Distinguished Talent visas can now be lodged online

A new legislative instrument added last week enables distinguished talent visa applications to be lodged online through a webform on the Department of Home Affairs’ website. Two things are of interest with this: those wanting to lodge an online application will be disappointed as the link is currently broken; and that this sort of application is different to an Internet application, which is lodged through ImmiAccount.

The Distinguished Talent visa consists of two subclasses: the offshore Subclass – 124 Distinguished Talent visa and the onshore Subclass – 858 Distinguished Talent visa. The main difference is that onshore 858 visa applicants are entitled to a bridging visa to remain in Australia until a final decision has been made on their application. This duality is a throwback to a time when there were many mirrored visas based on where an applicant was at the time of application. The onshore Subclass 820/801 – Partner visas and offshore Subclass 309/100 – Partner visa is another obvious example.

This permanent visa holds the title of being the least granted visa in Australia’s skilled migration program, and with good reason. It is for people who are eminent in the top echelons of their field in either a profession, sport, the arts, or academia and research. It is also a visa for those who have provided specialised assistance to the Australian Government in matters of security.

Setting aside applicants who have provided specialised assistance to the Australian Government, the bar to be granted this visa is very high as primary visa applicants for a distinguished talent visa must have an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement, be still prominent in their discipline, would be an asset to the Australian community, and would have no difficulty in obtaining employment or be able to establish themselves independently in Australia in their field. They also must be nominated by an Australian citizen, permanent resident, eligible New Zealand citizen, or an Australian organisation who has a national reputation in relation to the subject matter. Those under 18 years old or at least 55 years old will also need to be of exceptional benefit to the Australian community.

What is the difference between an online application and an Internet application for an Australian visa?

The difference between an online application and an Internet application is that online applications still require the completion of the approved paper application form which is then uploaded to a webform, whereas the form in ImmiAccount is the approved form for an Internet application.

Home Affairs has been slowly migrating Australian visa and citizenship applications to the ImmiAccount platform, with some applications, such as a Subclass 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme visa and Subclass 187 – Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visas, only being able to apply with an Internet application through ImmiAccount.

The benefits of the ImmiAccount system over paper-based applications is the certainty of knowing that a valid application has been lodged as acknowledgment letters are sent within seconds. Paper-based applications require manual receipting at the specified processing centre. On the flipside, the downside is that applications cannot be made if ImmiAccount is down for maintenance and, particularly during busy periods, ImmiAccount has suffered from high-traffic related IT issues in the past. Due to this, there is a fail-safe system for some visas, such as the Subclass 482 -Temporary Skill Shortage visa, where application forms can be emailed to a specific email address if prior authorisation has been given.

There are not many visas that use a webform to submit applications. One that comes to mind is the Subclass 202 – Global Special Humanitarian visa. Perhaps with only 200 distinguished talent visas allocated for this program year, it may not make much financial sense to incorporate this visa into ImmiAccount.