A visa for those wishing to work in Australia for a short period of time in a highly specialised job has been extended from three months to six months.
The Temporary Work Short Stay activity Visa (Subclass 400) is a dedicated visa for those seeking to enter and stay in Australia for non-ongoing short-term highly specialised work.
It usually lasts for three months, but from the 23 November 2014 it will enable the holder to stay in the country for short term work for up to six months.
This visa is often used by those who would have previously applied for Business visitor visas and ETAs for limited work opportunities.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) said that the change has been introduced to make these visas much more flexible for businesses.
It is likely to be welcomed by businesses that need specialists at short notice for discrete short term periods.
Stays longer than three months will need a strong business case to show that employment conditions satisfy Australian workplace standards and that the activities will not adversely impact Australian workers.
Businesses will need to provide evidence about the nature and importance of a project, evidence that specialist skills are required, evidence of contractual obligations, details of the number of Australians to be employed on the project and the time available to train an Australian to do the proposed work.
‘We understand that the new policy also specifically envisions that a subclass 400 visa might be held by a specialist who is on standby to travel to Australia at short notice to respond to an urgent issue such as a fire or a major incident,’ said a spokesman for KPMG which gives visa advice to businesses.
The firm says that employers who might want to use this visa need to make sure they are aware of the limits attached. ‘Although the Australian government has committed to reducing red tape, we have seen an increased level of monitoring and compliance of late which supports the government’s strong commitment to maintain integrity,’ the spokesman pointed out.
‘Therefore, while employers might benefit from the new flexibility, it is important to be aware of the limits that apply to specialists seeking to enter and work on these visas. Where work is ongoing the subclass 457 visa will remain the appropriate choice,’ he added.
It comes at a time when checking at the Australian border is at a high. In the financial year 2013/2014, the number of people turned back at increased by 25% to 3,073. The number of sponsors sanctioned increased from 217 to 365 and the number of sponsors monitored increased from 1,857 to 2,223.
KPMG also pointed out that employers using the subclass 400 visa to meet short term skill needs should be mindful that these employees may be liable to Australian income tax.