From 23 March 2013 the government intends to introduce significant changes to the Visitor and Medical Treatment visas. These changes are subject to the approval of the Governor-General in Council. Please refer to the media release for further information.
The most significant change is that work activities are no longer permitted on any business visitor visa, and the new Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) Visa (Subclass 400) is now the required visa for highly skilled work assignments of up to six weeks in duration.
From 23 March 2013, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship will no longer be accepting new applications for the following visa categories:
- Tourist Visa (subclass 676)
- Sponsored Family Visitor Visa (subclass 679)
- Business (Short Stay) Visa (subclass 456)
- Sponsored Business Visitor (Short Stay) Visa (subclass 459)
- Medical Treatment (Short Stay) Visa (subclass 675)
- Medical Treatment (Long Stay) Visa (subclass 685)
- Electronic Travel Authority (Visitor) (subclass 976)
- Electronic Travel Authority (Business – Short Validity) (subclass 977)
- Electronic Travel Authority (Business – Long Validity) (subclass 956).
From 23 March 2013, visa applicants will be required to apply for:
- Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) Visa (subclass 400)
- Visitor Visa (subclass 600)
- Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) (subclass 601)
- Medical Treatment Visa (subclass 602)
- eVisitor Visa (subclass 651).
Under the new regime, visa Subclasses 600, 601 and 651 will allow the foreign national to enter Australia for the purpose of tourism or to undertake business-visitor activities.
Business-visitor activities may include attending a conference, negotiation or exploratory business visits.
Introduction of Temporary work (short stay activity) Subclass 400 Visa
The introduction of the Subclass 400 visa will allow highly skilled work assignments of up to 6 weeks in duration. In exceptional circumstances, this may be increased to 12 weeks. Work assignments are any business activity that falls outside of attending a conference, negotiation or exploratory business visit.
The Subclass 400 visa will be manually assessed by a case officer, the applicant must be outside of Australia to apply and the paper application will be submitted to the closest Australian embassy/consulate.
Applicants for a Subclass 400 visa will need to evidence the following:
- the work or event participation is short-term and not ongoing (usually less than 6 weeks, but in exceptional circumstances may be extended to 12 weeks)
- that they will be in Australia to conduct the work or activity
- appropriate background for the proposed Australian activity
- sufficient funds for the proposed stay in Australia
- invitation/support of the proposed Australian employer or event organiser
- confirmation that no study will occur which will lead to a formal qualification
- that they satisfy health and character requirements.
Entertainers and support staff of entertainers are excluded from using the Subclass 400 visa. Tradespersons are also excluded from this visa. The Subclass 400 visa is intended only for professionals working in short-term highly specialised roles, which cannot be sourced from within the local labour market.
We anticipate that the processing time for a Subclass 400 visa will be approximately 2 weeks from the date of lodgement. However, processing time will vary depending on factors such as individual circumstance and the Australian embassy/consulate assessing the application.
With this in mind, businesses will need to ensure that plenty of lead time is given, in order for the visa applicants to prepare and lodge the visa application to the relevant Australian Embassy/Consulate.
It will no longer be possible to travel to Australia within 24-48 hours to undertake urgent highly-skilled work. Previously, these people may have been permitted to enter on an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA).
Expat continues to monitor this development closely and we will provide additional information as legislation is released.