- Fast-track permanent residency for Indian international student through Australia’s Global Talent visa
- GTI is the fastest pathway to permanent residency in Australia
- Akram Ahmad has completed his doctorate degree in public health from the University of Sydney
Dr Ahmad, whose research profile is rated among the world’s top 5 per cent of scientists on ResearchGate – a global professional network for scientists and researchers—received his visa grant on 26 May. He said that while this year might be daunting for most people, it has brought him abundant good news.
Raised in an impoverished family, Dr Ahmad’s journey from a small town in Uttar Pradesh in north India to a sought-after public health researcher in Sydney, is an inspiring tale of how a man in rural India took charge of his destiny and shaped his future.
Studying at a public school in a small town named Sahaswan, the then 15-year-old Akram nurtured a dream of acquiring a foreign education and pursuing a career in medical sciences.
“At a very young age, I knew I wanted to become a scientist, study at a top foreign university and live outside India. The journey started after I completed my bachelors and postgraduate degrees in pharmacy from Uttar Pradesh and started looking for jobs,” Dr Ahmad told SBS Punjabi.
“I worked in India for a few months and then moved to Malaysia, where I continued my research in infectious diseases for four years. But my heart was set on pursuing a PhD from a top university anywhere in the world,” he said.
Akram Ahmad with his parents at their family home in Uttar Pradesh, India. Source: Supplied by Akram Ahmad
Dr Ahmad didn’t have to wait for long.
Now armed with years of research experience in public health, he secured a seat at the prestigious University of Sydney to pursue his doctorate in medical sciences.
“I arrived in Australia in November 2017. The aim was to apply for a talent visa in the US as Australia had not introduced the Global Talent visa at the time. But soon, my prayers were answered when the government launched the GTI program in 2019,” the 33-year-old said.
Global Talent Independent Program:
Launched in November 2019, the Global Talent Independent Program is designed to attract highly-skilled individuals in chosen sectors to help grow Australian innovation and its tech economy.
In late 2020, the government expanded the fledgling program from 5,000 to 15,000 places for the current financial year and have, of late, sliced it down to 11,000 places for 2021-22, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.
The program aims to target the best brains from around the world in these key future-focused sectors:
- Agri-food and ag-tech
- Health industries
- Defence, advanced manufacturing and space
- Circular economy
- Infrastructure and tourism
- Financial services and FinTech
'Demand will increase when Australia reopens international borders'
Rupert Grayston, CEO, Australian Computer Society (ACS). Source: Supplied by ACS
To be eligible for the GTI program, applicants must demonstrate the potential to earn a salary at or above the income threshold of $153,600 each year and have their application supported by a nominator of national reputation in the same field.
Rupert Grayston, CEO at the Australian Computer Society (ACS), which provides nominations for GTI applicants in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, told SBS Punjabi that while most visas are being granted to onshore applicants, things will rapidly improve once the Australian government decides to open international borders.
“We will expect the international border closure status to change in the next 12 months, let’s say, and certainly there will be an indication at some point as to when that likely timing is. We expect that as soon as the market hears of a plan for borders to open, we expect a lot of applicants offshore to want to get on the conveyor (belt) to get started because they know it takes some time to get into the visa system,” Mr Grayston said.
Applicants who believe they meet the program parameters, are required to submit an using the Global Talent Form and are also required to find a nominator.
If the EOI is successful, the applicant receives a unique identifier and will be able to apply online whether they are in or outside Australia at the time of application.
Outside of Australia, the Department of Home Affairs has stationed its Global Talent Officers in London, San Francisco, Singapore and Washington DC to promote the program and attract the best and brightest talent to Australia.
Dream come true
Ahmad Akram; snapshot of Mr Akram's GTI visa grant. Source: Supplied by Akram Ahmad
Giving an insight into his journey so far, Dr Akram said he was initially hesitant to apply for this exclusive pathway, but in August 2020, he decided to take the plunge.
“When I saw my fellow scholars getting their grants, it encouraged me, and I submitted my expression of interest in August 2020. I took time to collate all my documents, got references from my professors and employers along with details of my research at the University of Sydney and copies of research excerpts that have been published in over 100 international journals worldwide,” he told SBS Punjabi.
“I completed my PhD, got a job as a clinical trials coordinator with a private firm in Sydney and then got my permanent residency — all in a span of one month. Now that I look back at the young Akram in Sahaswan who had big dreams, I feel I have achieved everything I set out for,” he added.
GTI open to onshore and offshore applicants
Melbourne-based migration agent Saurabh Smar said the GTI program is becoming a sought-after option for PhD students from the Indian Subcontinent.
“A lot of people are looking at this visa with interest. While it’s the fastest pathway to permanent residency and has no age or language criteria, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. The department (Home Affairs) is looking for highly-skilled candidates who are not only experts in one of the 10 select sectors, but those who can provide evidence of their qualification and global experience with patents and international publications,” he said.
Mr Smar added that while the response to this visa from offshore candidates is relatively lukewarm due to COVID-related travel restrictions, they can still get a foot in the door if they meet its parameters.
“There is no stopping offshore candidates from applying for this visa because if you are highly-skilled and are successful in getting the grant, this pathway gives you direct permanent residency, which means you can enter Australia without the need of a travel exemption,” he elaborated.
According to Department of Home Affairs data, the current average processing time for subclass 858 for the Global Talent Independent (GTI) program is 90 days.
Click on the player above to listen to the interview in Punjabi.
Disclaimer: This content is for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others.
Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.
SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at