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Proposed Changes To Various Temporary Activity Visas

The contents of this article are correct as at 21 September 2016.

The Government has just announced proposed changes to the Temporary Activity Visa framework, scheduled to come into effect on 19 November 2016.

Some of the changes will concern your organisation.

This new framework is intended to make the process of applying for certain temporary visas (discussed below) or sponsoring applicants simpler for business, industry and individuals. The proposed changes will affect the following types of short term visitors:

  • Researchers
  • Visiting academics
  • Highly specialised visitors
  • Invited participants
  • Exchange
  • Occupational trainees
  • Sports people

The proposed changes include:

  • Creating a new sponsor class to replace six existing sponsor classes
  • Removing some sponsorship and nomination requirements for specific short stay activities
  • Introducing the ability to lodge applications online

Some key aspects relating to the changes are addressed below.

What visa subclasses will be affected

There are a number of temporary activity visas that will be repealed and replaced with new visa subclasses, while others will be restructured, as a consequence of the proposed changes.

The following five visas will be repealed and replaced with new visa subclasses:

  • Temporary Work (Long Stay Activity) (subclass 401)
  • Training and Research (subclass 402)
  • Special Program (subclass 416)
  • Temporary Work (Entertainment) (subclass 420)
  • Superyacht Crew (subclass 488)

The following two visas will be restructured:

  • Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) (subclass 400)
  • Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass 403)

It is not anticipated at this point in time that any other visa subclasses will be affected by these
specific legislative changes.

The link below provides an overview of how the existing visas will be incorporated within the
proposed new temporary activity visa framework.


Temporary Activity Visa Framework Diagram

Essentially, the type of visa a visitor should apply for will depend on the purpose of their travel to
Australia. Further information about the proposed new or restructured visa subclasses is provided below.

Subclass 400 Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) Visa

This visa would be for people who want to come to Australia on a temporary basis to:
  • Undertake short-term, highly specialised, non-ongoing work
  • In limited circumstances, participate in an activity or work relating to Australia’s interests
The above activities are essentially similar to two (2) of the three (3) existing subclass 400 streams,
namely the Highly Specialised Work Stream and the Australia’s Interest Stream. It appears that the
existing third stream, i.e. the Invited Participant Stream, will form part of the new subclass 408 visa.

Similar to the current subclass 400, it does not appear that the proposed restructured subclass 400
will require sponsorship by an Australian organisation.

Subclass 407 Training Visa

This visa would be for people who want to come to Australia on a temporary basis to undertake
occupational training or participate in classroom based professional development activities.

An applicant for a subclass 407 Training visa, will require to be sponsored and nominated by the
Australian training organisation.

Subclass 408 Temporary Activity Visa

This visa would be for people who want to come to Australia on a temporary basis to undertake
activities that include:
  • Observe or participate as an academic in a research project
  • Participate in a non-ongoing cultural or social activities at the invitation of an Australian organisation
  • Work in the entertainment industry
  • Participate in high-level sports (including training)
  • Work in a skilled position under a staff exchange arrangement
  • Participate in a special programme to enhance international relations and cultural exchange
  • Undertake full-time religious work
  • Participate in an Australian government endorsed event
The subclass 408 visa:
  • Will not require a nomination
  • Will not require sponsorship if the visitor applies from outside Australia and their intended stay is less than 3 months
  • Will require sponsorship if the visitor applies from outside Australia and their intended stay is more than 3 months
  • Will require sponsorship if the visitor applies from inside Australia (regardless of the length of their intended stay) 

Subclass 403 Temporary Work (International Relations) Visa

This visa would be for people who want to come to Australia on a temporary basis to undertake
activities that include:

  • In relation to a bilateral agreement
  • To represent a foreign government or to teach a foreign language in an Australian school

Sponsorship under the new system

The existing sponsor classes (Long Stay Activity, Training and Research, Professional Development, Entertainment, Special Program) would be replaced by a single Temporary Activities sponsor class.

From 19 November 2016, Australian organisations would need to apply online for approval as a temporary activities sponsor if they want to sponsor a subclass 407 Training visa or subclass 408 Temporary Activity visa applicant that requires sponsorship. Paper applications would not be available.

Effect on existing sponsorships

If you were approved before 19 November 2016 as a long stay activity, training and research, professional development, entertainment or special program sponsor, you would be able to use this approval to sponsor a subclass 407 Training visa or subclass 408 Temporary Activity visa applicant (who is engaging in the relevant activity) during the transitional period or until your approval ceases (whatever is earlier).

From 19 May 2017 you would need to apply online for approval as a temporary activities sponsor if you want to sponsor a subclass 407 Training visa or Temporary Activity visa (subclass 408) applicant.

If you apply for approval before 19 November 2016 as a long stay activity, training and research, professional development, entertainment or special program sponsor, your application would continue to be assessed under the pre-19 November 2016 legislation. That is, the sponsorship would only be valid for new visa applications until 18 May 2017.

Nomination under the new system

Nominations would need to be lodged online. Paper applications would not be available.

Subclass 407 Training visa applications would need to be linked to a nomination that was lodged after 19 November 2016. A Subclass 407 Training visa application will not be able to be linked to a nomination lodged before 19 November 2016.

How will these changes affect lodged and pending applications

All existing nominations lodged before 19 November 2016 would need to be linked to an associated visa application that was lodged before 19 November 2016. These applications will be processed under pre-19 November 2016 legislation.

If you are a long stay activity, training and research, entertainment or special program sponsor and have applied or intend to apply to nominate an applicant for one of the associated visas before 19 November 2016, you would need to ensure that your nominated applicant applies for their visa before 19 November 2016. Otherwise the nomination cannot be used.

All applications for nominations that lodged before 19 November 2016 would be assessed and finalised under pre-19 November 2016 legislation.

If the applicant is unable to lodge the associated visa application before 19 November 2016, you will need to contact your processing office to withdraw any unfinalised nominations as they will not be used under the new proposed legislation.

Any nomination and/or visa applications lodged after 18 November 2016 will need to be made in accordance with the new proposed visa subclasses and legislation.

What are the possible advantages of the proposed changes

The benefits that are envisaged by the new changes are as follows:

  • A single sponsorship (temporary activities sponsor) would replace six existing sponsorship types, thus creating a more efficient and simpler system
  • The number of different visa subclasses has been reduced, so that understanding the framework as a whole is simpler
  • There may be a reduction in red tape by removing sponsorship and nomination requirements for specific short stay activities
  • Applicants would be able to lodge visa applications online through ImmiAccount, removing the need for printing and mailing
  • Faster processing outcomes

As more information about the changes are released, we will provide further updates. We will also provide an outline of the new scheme after it comes into effect on 19 November 2016.

If you have any queries regarding the proposed changes to Temporary Activity visas, please click this link to contact Visa Lawyers Australia.

 

 

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