Gifted Actress is Refused Distinguished Talent Visa for Lack of ‘International Recognition’

In Gecaite (Migration) [2019] AATA 940, a visa applicant applied for review of a decision to refuse to grant a Distinguished Talent (Subclass 858) visa on the grounds of the applicant’s claim that she has an internationally recognised record of exception and outstanding achievement in theatre production.


Background of the Applicant Whose Refused Distinguished Talent Visa Was Refused


The applicant is a US national who, after her secondary education, attended Mason Gross School of Arts at Rutgers University and graduated with a Bachelor of Theatre, Majoring in Acting.  Following graduation, the applicant worked as an actress and writer in New York. 

The applicant later arrived in Australia in 2016 to advance her career as a director and writer and has since had a number of acting roles in theatre and short film.  The applicant has also established a production company, producing her own plays in small theatres and arts festivals.


Relevant Legislation to Meet the Distinguished Talent Visa Subclass 858 Criterion


In order to meet the relevant criterion for a Distinguished Talent visa, an applicant must have had an internationally recognised record of exception and outstanding achievement in his or her field at the time of application:

Clause 858.212(2)

The applicant:

(a) has an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement in one of the following areas:

(i) a profession;

(ii) a sport;

(iii) the arts;

(iv) academia and research; and
(b) is still prominent in the area; and

(c) would be an asset to the Australian community; and

(d) would have no difficulty in obtaining employment, or in becoming established independently, in Australia in the area; and

(e) produces a completed approval form 1000.

(f) If the applicant has not turned 18, or is at least 55 years old, at the time of application-would be of exceptional benefit to the Australian community.


AAT’s Considerations of the Applicant’s Distinguished Talent Visa Appeal


The AAT heard evidence from Phoebe Taylor, an actress of 15 years and Ryan Stewart, an actor and co-founder a production company alongside the applicant.

The Tribunal accepted that the applicant’s record is indicative of a gifted artist and her achievements in the theatre and short films in Australia have received critical acclaim. Her own works have been well received at a number of arts festivals.

However, the applicant’s achievements, although impressive and even unusual and out of the ordinary, have primarily been achieved in Australia and not overseas. The performance reviews provided by the applicant were published in Australian arts based publications and there is no evidence before the Tribunal of any international recognition for her achievements.


AAT’s Decision of the Applicant’s Distinguish Talent Visa Appeal


The Tribunal was not satisfied that at the time of application, the applicant had an international record of exceptional and outstanding talent.  Accordingly, the Tribunal affirmed the decision not to grant the applicant a Subclass 858 visa.


Key Takeaways

  • Applicants should be at in the top echelon of their field, although they need not be a ‘national living treasure’

  • An achievement that attracts national acclaim is not considered as ‘internationally recognised’ unless that achievement is in a field practised in other countries

  • In order to satisfy ‘international recognition’, the applicants’ achievements must be realised beyond Australia and local proximity


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