Subclass 124 / 858: Distinguished Talent Visa


Distinguished Talent visas, Subclasses 124 and 858, provide permanent residency to globally renowned individuals with a proven and continuing record of outstanding achievement in an eligible field. Relevant disciplines include sports, arts, professions, academia and research.

As the standard relates to “exceptional” or “outstanding” achievement, the threshold for eligibility is stringent. Only highly prominent, accomplished and renowned individuals will qualify for these visas. Furthermore, the process requires that the applicants be endorsed by an Australian citizen, permanent resident, eligible New Zealand citizen or organisation with an international reputation in the relevant area.

Where an applicant is outside of Australia the applicants may apply for a Subclass 124 visa, and onshore applicants must apply for Subclass 858 visas whilst holding visas other than:

  • Business (Short Stay) visa (subclass 456)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601)
  • eVisitor (subclass 651)
  • Maritime Crew Visa (subclass 988)
  • Special purpose visa
  • Superyacht Crew visa (subclass 488)
  • Temporary Work visa (subclass 400)
  • Tourist visa (subclass 676)
  • Visitor visa (subclass 600)
    Other than the location at the time of application, the criteria are largely indifferent between these 2 subclasses.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for either of these visas, the applicant must:

  • Be of benefit to the Australian community, whether economic, social, cultural, academic, artistic or sports;
  • Have the ability to establish himself or herself in Australia;
  • Be internationally recognised with a record of achievement;
  • Be nominated;
  • Be aged between 18 and 54 inclusive, unless exemptions apply; and
  • Have functional English.

Record of Achievement

Relevant fields include sports, arts, professions, academia and research. To be exceptional in the field, the level of achievement should be sustained, and ranked at the top internationally or recognised in a number of countries, including Australia.

The Department will likely conduct research on the applicant’s standing within the field and will make reference to a wide variety of factors in order to determine a level of prominence. For example, the Department, when evaluating the application of a sportsperson, will consider factors such as:

  • National and international rankings
  • Competition and tournament results
  • Statements from international sporting bodies
  • Sporting scholarships received

Media articles attesting to the applicant’s achievements
In addition to the above, applicants may qualify for these subclasses where they have aided Australia in matters of intelligence and national security. This requires a recommendation by senior intelligence officials.

Ongoing Prominence

The applicant must continue to be prominent in the field, and pure reliance on past achievements is not sufficient for this visa to be granted. For this reason, retirees, particularly in relation to sports stars, will not qualify for these visas.

Essentially, the application will be assessed with reference to the current prominence and the prospects for continued achievement in the relevant field.

Benefit to the Australian community

Your presence in Australia must be likely to benefit Australia as a whole. This benefit may be economic, social or cultural. This also means that if your field is of a nature not generally acceptable in Australia, you will likely fail on this ground.

The benefit to Australia must be real and not purely based on conjecture. The precise nature of the benefit will be dependent on your field of expertise. For example, a sportsperson might be expected to raise the standard of competition domestically, or a prominent academic may increase Australia’s reputation within a particular field of study.

Able to Establish Oneself

The Department must be satisfied that the applicant is able to find work, or become independently established, in the relevant field in Australia. This requires a detailed plan as to how the applicant intends to continue in the area of achievement once the visa is granted and will support himself or herself through the related activities. This may take the form of a job offer, self-employment, grant or sponsorship.

It is noted that income from work outside the area of achievement cannot be included in the application for this visa.

Nomination

For the application to be valid, the applicant must be nominated by:

    • Australian citizen;
    • Australian permanent resident;
    • Australian organisation; or
    • Eligible New Zealand citizen.
      However, the person or organisation providing the nomination must have a national-level reputation in the same field as the nominee and applicant. When in doubt, the credentials of the nominator will be investigated by the Department, often via consultation with a peak national body associated with the area of achievement.

Age Requirements

In most cases, applicants must be between 18 and 54 years of age. There are however exemptions whereby people below the age of 18 or above the age of 54 may be eligible for these visas.

If the applicant is under 18 years of age, he or she will face significant difficulty in demonstrating a sustained level of exceptional achievement, particularly in an academic or professional setting. If a sportsperson, the Department’s policy generally requires the applicant to be ranked in the top 5 for the same group internationally. Other situations may be arguable, however the threshold for underage applicants is quite stringent. In any case, exceptional benefit must be demonstrated to be beyond mere benefit to the Australian community to be eligible for Distinguished Talent visas.

If the applicant is 55 years old or more, he or she will also need to prove continuing exceptional benefit to the Australian community beyond the benefit generally required of other Distinguished Talent visa applicants in the eligible age group. This benefit must be immediately realised as well as be ongoing. Retired or retiring persons will not be suitable applicants for this subclass.

Public Interest Criteria

4001, 4002, 4003, 4004, 4005, 4009, 4010, 4021, 4019 (if applicable), 4017 and 4018 (if applicable).

Special Return Criteria – only applicable to Subclass 124

5001, 5002 and 5010

Visa Conditions

Subclass 124

If the applicant is outside Australia, first entry must be before a date specified by the grant.

Visa Condition 8502 may be imposed whereby the visa holder must not enter Australia before the entry to Australia of a person specified in the visa.

Subclass 858

There are no conditions associated with this subclass.

Application Charges

  • Base application charge: $4,110
  • Additional applicant charge for an applicant who is at least 18: $2,055
  • Additional applicant charge for an applicant who is less than 18: $1,030