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What is a talent visa? Which countries issue talent visas?

Nargiz Shiraliyeva Nargiz Shiraliyeva 12 August 2020
823 view 9 min. read

We all heard about the most common visa types, such as tourist, work, student visas, and we can guess the travel purposes behind each of them. But did you know that some countries also issue special visa types for people with different skills and talents? You can predict from the name that these visas are given to people with some extraordinary talents, but what are those and which countries provide such opportunities? If you want to learn more, proceed with this article, and maybe if you are lucky enough, you might find a visa type matching your talent.

The USA (O-1 Visa)

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The USA has a special non-resident O-1 visa type within 2 directions which you can find below.

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.

What Are the USA O-1 Visa Requirements?

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To qualify for an O-1 visa, the applicant must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.

Applicants must be able to provide sufficient evidence for at least 3 of the following conditions:

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

• Being a member of associations whose membership requires outstanding achievement, judged by nationally or internationally recognized experts in the respective discipline.

• Their work has been featured in professional or high-profile trade publications or mainstream media.

• The applicant has 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.

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

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

• Have served in a leading or critical capacity for highly regarded organizations or establishments.

• Command a high salary or remuneration for their services.

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

How Long Can You Stay in the USA with the O-1 Visa?

Well, the O-1 visa is usually valid for up to 3 years. However, if it is granted to cover a specific event, production, or activity, the period may be less. Extensions are available in 1-year increments, and there is no limit on extensions. However, the visa holder must show that they are continuing with the same position or activity for which the original visa was granted.

Australia (Distinguished Talent Visa)

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Australia has the Distinguished Talent visa with 2 subclasses (858 and 124). To apply for subclass 858 an applicant must be inside Australia when this visa is decided, that's why we will stop on the Distinguished Talent Subclass 124 visa.

Distinguished Talent Subclass 124 Visa Requirements:

• Be outside Australia when this visa is granted

• Have an internationally recognized record of exceptional and outstanding achievement in one of the following areas (and still be prominent in the area): a profession. a sport, the arts, academia and research

• Be nominated by an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, eligible New Zealand citizen, or Australian organization with a national reputation in relation to your area of talent

• Have functional English, or you will need to pay an extra charge

• You can be any age to apply for this visa. If you are under 18 years old or you are aged 55 years or older when you apply, you must be of exceptional benefit to the Australian community.

With this visa, you can:

• Work and study in Australia

• Stay in Australia permanently

• Sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence in Australia

• Apply for Australian citizenship, if eligible

UK (Global Talent Visa)

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The Global Talent visa is a UK immigration category for talented and promising individuals in specific sectors wishing to work in the UK. Under the program, individuals who are leaders in the fields of science, engineering, digital technology, arts and culture are able to enter and work in the United Kingdom on a path to permanent residence.

What Are the UK Global Talent Visa Requirements?

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

• As a recognized 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

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

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These designated bodies must vouch to the UK Home Office that the migrant is exceptionally talented in his field of expertise. If the endorsement is granted, the final immigration decision rests with the UK Home Office.

With the Global Talent Visa, you can:

• 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

New Zealand (Talent Visa)

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If you have the skills, qualifications or experience that New Zealand needs, you may be able to apply for a resident visa under the Skilled Migrant Category. The Skilled Migrant Category is a points system based on factors such as age, work experience, qualifications, and an offer of skilled employment. You must also be aged 55 or under, and meet English language, health, and character requirements. Under the Skilled Migrant Category, you will be granted a resident visa once your resident visa is approved.

For those who do not want to apply for the Skilled Migrant Category or are not eligible, another pathway to apply for residency is to apply under one of the work to residence categories below:

1.  Talent Visa (Accredited Employers)

2.  Talent Visa (Arts, Sports and Culture)

3.  Long Term Shortages List occupations Visa

To be eligible to apply for a residence from work visa, you will need to work and live in New Zealand for two years until you are eligible for applying for residence. Principal applicants need to meet all the relevant policy criteria including that they have met the conditions of their visa, will continue to work in New Zealand, and meet any English language criteria in addition to the health and character requirements. Eligibility in most cases will depend on your skills set, whether or not your New Zealand employer is accredited and whether or not you meet the relevant policy criteria.

Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa

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This visa is for people who are looking for a pathway to live in New Zealand and who have a skill that’s needed by a New Zealand accredited employer. If an accredited employer offers you full-time work, you’ll be able to get a visa to work there. If you continue to work for that employer for 2 years, you’ll be able to apply to live in New Zealand permanently.

With this visa, you can:

• Work in New Zealand for the accredited employer who offers you work.

• Apply for residence after 2 years of working for an accredited employer.

• Stay up to 30 months.

With this visa, you can’t:

• Include a partner or dependent children in your work visa application, but they can apply for visas based on their relationship to you.

Talent (Arts, Culture, Sports) Work Visa

This visa is for people who have exceptional talent in the field of art, sport or culture and are looking for a pathway to residence in New Zealand. You’ll need the support of a New Zealand organization that’s recognized for its excellence in your field of talent, and a sponsor, to apply. After being actively engaged in your field in New Zealand for 2 years, you may be eligible for residence.

With this visa, you can:

• Start your pathway to residence in New Zealand by being actively engaged in your field of art, culture or sport in New Zealand for up to 30 months.

• Apply for residence after 2 years of being actively engaged in your field of art, culture or sport in New Zealand, which if granted, will allow you to live and work in New Zealand indefinitely.

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

With this visa, you can’t:

• 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 2 years.

China (Talent R Visa)

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There is a scheme set up by the Chinese government to encourage high-end foreign talents to relocate to China to work on long-term or short-term programs across the country, in management or research positions. It is 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 with the highly skilled and specialized qualities that are urgently needed due to a short supply among Chinese.

What Are the China Talent R Visa 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 been selected to join China’s talents introduction programs accredited by talents management authorities, such as the Program for the Introduction of Renowned Overseas Professors, 1,000 Talents Plan, 100 Talents Plan, and CAS Hundred Talents Project.

• Have accomplished achievements in professional fields recognized internationally, including Nobel Prize winners, scholars from 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.

• Capable of taking market-oriented positions in enterprises encouraged by the government, including senior management staff in China’s state-owned enterprises, Fortune Global 500 Enterprises, etc.

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

What Are the Benefits of China Talent R Visa?

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• Each foreign talent in a long-term program will receive a 1-million-yuan subsidy from the Chinese government.

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

• Special funds are offered to the talents to subsidize 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.

• If the foreign talents need to work in China or stay in China in the long term, they can apply for a working visa or a residence permit with two to five years’ validity.

• Foreign talents in the 1,000 Talent Plan receive the majority of the yearly quota of Chinese Permanent Residence Permits (aka Chinese Green Cards). They, 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 enjoy favourable medical care policies, 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.

How to choose?

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Many people think it is impossible to get a visa to live and work in another country. However, as we covered in this article, in reality, many countries welcome immigrants with specific skills and talents offering visa and residency to fill a particular demand.

The key point is to remember that these countries-lists with required talents constantly change which means that if you have a talent matching one of these visa types, you should act as fast as possible and build a suitable background for your visa application. We covered the most popular talent visas, so you can know where to start your research on this topic. If your talent is not on the list, don't get upset! We suggest checking requirements periodically as the country of your choice may expand the list by adding your skill or profession at any time.

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Nargiz Shiraliyeva
Nargiz Shiraliyeva Wanderlust. Booklover.

Nargiz was born in Russia where she grew up until the age of 12 before moving to Baku, Azerbaijan. At different life stages she lived in Turkey and Serbia. As of 2020, she has been to 38 cities in 11 countries. AIESEC Azerbaijan Alumna. She is fond of participating at youth projects and making friends with people from all around the world. Her biggest dream is to visit all the continents and as many countries as possible. Following her passion to travel, she joined the team of a “Trawell Group” company.  

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