March 29, 2013

Following the recent announcement from Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) that several high-volume visitor visa categories would be repealed and consolidated, the department has published the process guidelines and document requirements for the new visas.

Although many of the process details and document requirements are fairly routine, there are several important factors to note.

These changes are scheduled to go into effect immediately.

Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) (Subclass 400) Visa

PURPOSE: The new Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) (Subclass 400) visa will allow foreign nationals to engage in “short-term, non-ongoing, highly specialized work,” without requiring the host sponsor to apply for a longer-term Subclass 457 visa.

Examples of types of covered work are: installation and implementation of equipment/technology sold outside Australia as part of a sales/service contract; short-term visits to follow up customer satisfaction; one-off training of Australian client end-users or to provide intra-company training; or short-term, non-ongoing internal or external audits.

VALIDITY and CONDITIONS OF STAY: Please note that any work activity exceeding three consecutive months, or work that is not of a nature permitted for this visa category, will require a traditional Subclass 457 work visa.

Generally, the Subclass 400 visa will be valid for six weeks; however, consulates have the discretion to issue the duration of stay to three consecutive months.

While a “fresh” Subclass 400 visa can be re-issued without any mandatory waiting period, the DIAC reserves the right to review the parameters of the assignment and determine whether the visa is being used appropriately and the intention of the company is genuine.

All foreign nationals qualifying for this category will be required to submit their application to their nearest Australian consular post prior to travel to Australia.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS: Documentation requirements and processing times may vary amongst Australian consular posts. The DIAC has issued a general guide as follows:

  1. Original signed application form – Form 1400: Application for a Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) Visa;
  2. Certified copies of passport identification page(s);
  3. One passport-style photograph;
  4. Certified copy of national identity card – if applicable;
  5. Certified copy of birth certificate – for accompanying minor children (under the age of 18 years) only;
  6. Copy of marriage certificate or independent evidence of a de facto relationship – for accompanying spouse only;
  7. Certified copy of evidence of name change – only if the applicant’s name has changed; and
  8. Company letter of invitation (from the Australian company) – depending on the specific activities in which the employee will engage, the letter should include the employee’s job duties while in Australia, details of the proposed position, how long the employee is scheduled to remain in Australia, and why the employee is needed for the project or the temporary assignment.

An applicant’s nationality (“high risk/low risk” nationalities) will determine processing times at various consular posts. Uncontested processing times may range from one business day to one month. Risk assessment is based if an employee is eligible for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). A list of ETA eligible nationalities can be found at the DIAC website here: http://www.immi.gov.au/immigration/eta-eligible-passports.htm

It is important to note that the Australian authorities are requiring several of the above-listed documents to be certified copies. Depending on the employee’s personal details, as well as the country issuing these documents, procuring these documents may add additional, perhaps significant, preparation time.

Visitor Visa (Subclass 600) and ETA (Subclass 601) Visas

Visitor Visa (Subclass 600) and the ETA (Subclass 601) visas differ slightly in their allowable activities. The primary difference is determined by an applicant’s citizenship being eligible to apply for an ETA.

The DIAC has narrowed the definition of “allowable business visitor” to primarily allow only “discussion-style” type of activities. The following examples are not exhaustive list of all the allowable activities, but are meant to provide general guidance: general business meetings or employment inquiries; contract negotiations; home-finding visits; attending professional conferences or seminars an unpaid attendee or speaker or activities carried out as part of an official government-to-government visit.

Activities beyond those listed above should be reviewed with an Australian immigration supplier to confirm the applicant does not require some form of work authorization.

Depending on the employee’s nationality and ETA (Subclass 601) eligibility, processing times may vary from one business day to six weeks.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

Companies, assignees and business travelers are advised that the immediate implementation of these new temporary visa categories require proper assessment of the employee’s citizenship, intended activities and duration of stay in Australia.

Times to assemble and process Subclass 400 visa applications may affect a company’s ability to quickly mobilize employees to enter Australia to assist clients or colleagues.

Companies with long-term, extended warranties providing clients repeat servicing of equipment or technology, extended post-sales service or performing consistent training or auditing services are advised to strategize with their Australian immigration supplier in connection with the potential impact of the “short-term, non-ongoing” requirement of the Subclass 400 visa.

Companies with long-term client servicing contracts may wish to consistently rotate qualified employees to avoid applying for successive application for business visitor and Subclass 400 visas and ETA’s.

Caveat Lector | Warning to ReaderĀ 

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by SooHyung Smit, Coordinator, Knowledge Management. Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | KGNM Correspondent Office Australia to provide you this update.

Information contained in this Global Brief is prepared using information obtained from various media outlets, government publications and our KGNM network of immigration professionals. Written permission from the copyright owner and any other rights holders must be obtained for any reuse of any content posted or published by Pro-Link GLOBAL that extends beyond fair use or other statutory exemptions. Furthermore, responsibility for the determination of the copyright status and securing permission rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. Interested parties are welcome to contact the Knowledge Management Department (km@pro-linkglobal.com) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.