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Immigration series | 6 countries that offer talent visas

Skilled professionals, feted artistes and researchers can apply for talent visas to work in institutions abroad. Here's what you need to know about applying.

August 05, 2021 / 07:59 PM IST
Representational image

Representational image


A talent visa, as the name suggests, may be offered to highly skilled professionals, distinguished athletes and artistes, and people with advanced degrees in select fields. Currently, six countries offer such a visa pathway to Indian nationals. These are:

1. Australia: Global Talent Visa Program

The Global Talent Visa program is available under two categories: The Global Talent Stream and The Distinguished Talent Stream.

The Global Talent Stream: Introduced in November 2019, The Global Talent Stream is for highly skilled professionals and PhD graduates with international distinction in one of the 10 future-focused fields targeted by the Australian government: agri-food and agriculture technology; energy; health industries; defence; advanced manufacturing and space; circular economy; digitech (quantum information, advanced IT, data science, data analysis); infrastructure and entertainment; financial service and fintech; or education.

In 2021-22, there are 15,000 spots available under Australia’s Global Talent Visa program.

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The Distinguished Talent Stream: For internationally recognised athletes, artists and academics/researchers. This program has only around 200 places each year. This program is further divided into two subclasses:

  • 858: Applicants must be in Australia when this visa is decided

  • 124: Be outside Australia when this visa is granted


Key requirements for Distinguished Talent Subclass 124 Visa:

  • Must have an exceptional and outstanding achievement in one of the following areas: a sport, the arts, academia and research.

  • Should be nominated by an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, eligible New Zealand citizen, or Australian organisation with a national reputation in the applicant’s area of talent.

  • Know functional English. If not, there will be additional charges.

  • If the applicant is under 18 years old or above age 55 at the time of applying, they must be of exceptional benefit to the Australian community.


Processing time:

  • Distinguished Talent Pathway: 17-20 months

  • Global Talent Pathway: 65 to 88 days.


Key benefits:

  • Work and study in Australia

  • Stay in Australia permanently

  • Have access to government benefits such as Medicare

  • Sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence in Australia

  • Apply for Australian citizenship, if eligible


Also read: 9 countries that offer citizenship-by-investment

2. USA: O-1 Visa

The special non-resident O-1 visa type is categorised as:

  • O-1A: For individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry).

  • O-1B: For individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in a motion picture or television industry.


Key Requirements for USA O-1 Visa:

Applicants must provide sufficient evidence of fulfilling at least three of the following conditions:

  • Having received national or international awards or prizes of excellence in their field.

  • Being a member of an association whose membership requires outstanding achievement, judged by nationally or internationally recognised experts in the respective disciplines.

  • Having their work featured in professional or high-profile trade publications or mainstream media.

  • Having served in some capacity as a judge of others in the same (or closely related) field. This could either be individual or as part of a judging panel.

  • Having had articles published in professional or notable trade publications.

  • Having made original scientific, academic, or business contributions of major significance in their field.

  • Having served in a leading or critical capacity in a highly regarded organisation or establishment.

  • Commanding high salary or remuneration for their services.

  • Other relevant evidence of exceptional expertise that does not fit any of the above criteria.


Validity:

  • Usually valid for up to three years. However, if it is granted to cover a specific event, production, or activity, the period may be less.

  • Extensions are available in one-year increments, and there is no limit on the number of extensions. However, the visa holder must show that they are continuing in the same position or activity for which the original visa was granted.


Processing time:

  • Takes about two to three months

  • You can opt for 15-day Premium Processing for a fee of USD 1,500


Key benefits:

  • Work legally in the US

  • O-visa holders and their families can travel in and out of the US, and stay for as long as the visa is valid.

  • A spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany the visa holder but cannot accept employment.


Also read: 62% increase in enquiries for investment migration programs from Indians in 2020: Nirbhay Handa of Henley & Partners

3. New Zealand: Talent Visas

The Skilled Migrant Category:

A points system, based on factors such as age, work experience, qualifications, and an offer of skilled employment, is used to decide applications. Applicants must also be aged 55 or under, and meet English language, health, and character requirements.

Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa:

This visa is for people who are looking for a pathway to live in New Zealand and who have a skill that is needed by a New Zealand-accredited employer. If you continue to work for that employer for two years, you’ll be able to apply to live in New Zealand permanently.

You cannot include a partner or dependent children in your work visa application, but they can apply for visas based on their relationship to you.

Key benefits:

  • Work in New Zealand for the accredited employer.

  • Apply for residence after two years of working for an accredited employer.

  • Stay up to 30 months.


Talent (Arts, Culture, Sports) Work Visa:

For people who have exceptional talent in the field of art, sport or culture. You’ll need the support of a New Zealand organisation that’s recognised for its excellence in your field of talent, and a sponsor, to apply.

With this visa, you cannot include a partner or dependent children in your work visa application, but they can apply for visas based on their relationship to you. You can include your partner and dependent children in your residence application after you've been actively engaged in your field of talent in New Zealand for two years.

Key benefits:

  • Apply for residence after two years of being actively engaged in your field of art, culture or sport in New Zealand.

  • Stay up to 30 months on a work visa, and then if the residence application is successful, stay indefinitely.


Long-Term Shortages List Occupations Visa:

Eligibility largely depends on the applicant’s skill set, whether or not the New Zealand employer is accredited, and whether or not the applicant meets the relevant policy criteria.

Fulfilling English-language criteria in addition to the health and character requirements is mandatory.

You will need to work and live in New Zealand for two years to be eligible to apply for residence.

The UK: Global Talent Visa

The Global Talent visa is a UK immigration category for talented and promising individuals in specific sectors. It replaced the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa in February 2020.

Key requirements:

You can apply for a Global UK Talent visa if you work in a qualifying field and have been endorsed:

  • As a recognised leader (exceptional talent)

  • As an emerging leader (exceptional promise)

  • Under the UK Research and Innovation endorsed funder option

  • You must also be from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland

  • Holders of certain prestigious prizes can apply for a visa without going through the initial endorsement stage. The list of eligible awards and further information is available on gov.uk


Who can endorse UK global talent visa applicants?

Applicants do not need to be sponsored by an employer; however, their application must be endorsed by one of the following designated ‘Competent Bodies’:

  • The Royal Society, for science and medicine

  • The Royal Academy of Engineering, for engineering

  • The British Academy, for humanities

  • Tech Nation, for digital technology

  • Arts Council England, for arts and culture

  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), for research applicants

  • British Fashion Council, for fashion

  • Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), for architecture

  • Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), for film and television


Key benefits:

  • Work for an employer, as a director of a company or be self-employed

  • Change jobs without telling the Home Office

  • Do voluntary work

  • Travel abroad and return to the UK

  • Bring family members with you

  • Apply to stay for between 1-5 years. You only have to pay the healthcare surcharge for the amount of time you choose to stay.

  • Apply to extend your visa as many times as you like. Each extension can last 1-5 years.


With the Global Talent Visa, you can’t:

  • Get public funds

  • Work as a doctor or dentist in training

  • Work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach


France: Researcher-talent Passport

The Researcher-talent Passport is a long-stay visa that allows you to pursue a doctorate, conduct research or teach in France. It may be renewed in the form of a multi-year residency permit.

Key requirements:

  • Reserved for doctoral students, researchers and professors-researchers.


Key benefits:

  • With a multi-entry Researcher-talent Passport valid for one year, you can travel freely within the Schengen area during the first three months following your entry in France. Beyond that, you will have to have your residency permit to travel outside of France.

  • You can freely hold the position that was specified in the hosting agreement, without the prior consent of the Regional Department of Competition, Consumption, Work and Employment.

  • The spouse of a doctoral student or researcher who holds a Family talent Passport long-stay visa, may also work in France.

  • Family members may also request renewal of their Family talent Passport long-stay visa to obtain a multi-year residency permit under the same conditions.


China: Talent R Visa

Known as the 1,000 Talent Plan of Foreign Experts, or the National Recruitment Program of Global Experts, Chinese Talent Visa (namely, the R Visa) is issued to eligible foreign applicants who are highly skilled and have "specialised qualities".

Key requirements:

The plan is aimed at foreign professionals with doctorates who meet the following requirements:

  • Non-ethnic Chinese (i.e. there must be no Chinese heritage in the person’s family, with ‘Chinese heritage’ defined as genetic links to natives of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan)

  • Under 65 years old

  • Not working in the humanities or social sciences

  • Obtained their doctorate overseas (i.e. outside China)

  • Have accomplished achievements in professional fields recognised internationally, including Nobel Prize winners, scholars from the Academy of Science or Academy of Engineering in foreign countries, professors and vice professors taking a position in the world’s top 200 universities, etc.

  • Invited by the Chinese government (Ministry of Organisation; Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security or State Administration of Foreign Experts)


Key benefits:

  • Each foreign talent in a long-term program will receive a 1-million-yuan (1 Yuan = 11.49 INR) subsidy from the Chinese government.

  • Foreign talents undertaking scientific research can apply for a 3-5-million-yuan research fund.

  • Special funds are offered to the talents, to subsidise their pension and health insurance.

  • If the foreign talents need to enter and leave China multiple times a year, they can obtain a multiple-entry visa with a validity of five years, with each stay in China lasting up to 180 days.

  • Apply for a work visa or a residence permit with two to five years’ validity.

  • Applicant, their spouse and their children under 18 can obtain the Permanent Residence Permit for Foreigners within 50 days of applying for it.

  • Members of the 1,000 Talents Program get medical care facilities, and their spouses and any children under 18 can enjoy the same healthcare, social insurance and pension coverage as native Chinese citizens even if they are unemployed.
Preeti Verma Lal is a Goa-based freelance writer/photographer.

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