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Changes to Short Term Work Visas

The contents of this article are correct as at 29 March 2013.

In March 2013 the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) made a number of significant changes to the range of short term work visas available.

The intention of these changes is to make a clear distinction between work and business visitor activities.

Under the old scheme, the ETA Business (subclass 956 and 977) visa, eVisitor (subclass 651) visa, and subclass 456 visa allowed overseas workers to enter Australia for short term business purposes and undertake non-repeat specialised work for up to 6 weeks.

What are the changes to short term work visas?

From Saturday 23 March 2013, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) ceased accepting new applications for the following short term work visas:

  • Business (short Stay) visa (Subclass 456)
  • Sponsored business visitor (short stay) visa (subclass 459)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (business – short validity) (subclass 977)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (business – long validity) (subclass 956)

Since then applicants seeking to travel to Australia for short term specialist work need to obtain the following:

  • Temporary work (short stay activity) visa (subclass 400)

Separately, new visas such as Visitor (subclass 600), the ETA (subclass 601), as well as the existing eVisitor (subclass 651), have a ‘no work’ condition but allow business visitor activities to be undertaken such as:

  • making a general business or employment enquiry
  • investigating, negotiating, entering into or reviewing a business contract
  • participating in a conference, trade fair or seminar (excluding situations where the person is being paid by an organiser for participation)

Temporary work (short stay activity) visa (subclass 400)

This new visa, which became effective from 23 March 2013, allows the visa holder to enter Australia and:

  • undertake short-term, highly specialised, and not repeat or ongoing work, or
  • participate in an event or events on a non-ongoing basis at the invitation of an Australian organisation.

In relation to highly specialised work, the person will need to demonstrate that they have specialised skills, knowledge or experience that can assist an Australian organisation or business and cannot reasonably be found in the Australian labour market.

Highly specialised work is usually work that either:

  • is done by persons with an occupation in ANZSCO Major Groups 1, 2 or 3; or
  • requires skills and knowledge that are specific to an international company, such as installing imported equipment, after-sales service or emergency repairs.

The subclass 400 visa application is paper based (it must be lodged using Form 1400 at an Australian embassy of High Commission or consulate overseas). The applicant must be outside Australia at time of application and visa grant. Family members may be included in the application.

The visa allows the holder to stay in Australia usually six weeks or less, but it can be up to three months in some cases.

Have the changes affected existing visa holders?

Holders of an ETA Business (subclass 956 and 977) visa, eVisitor (subclass 651) visa or 456 visa will not be affected by the changes and continue to have the same rights and conditions until their visas expire.

If you would like any assistance with a short term work visa application, please feel free to contact us.