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Short Term Work and Business Activity - understanding the key differences

Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) grants approximately 500,000 visitor visas per month. China, United States and United Kingdom consistently remain the top three users of the Australia’s visitor visa programme, making up almost a quarter of all visitor visa grants.

The simplicity in the process of applying for a visitor visa makes this visa very attractive for many foreign nationals interested in entering Australia generally for a period of up to three months. Nonetheless, visitor visas carry a number of limitations which should be recognised from the beginning and prior to travel, to determine whether this visa is appropriate. This assessment should be done on a case by case basis. Whether a visitor visa is appropriate will depend on the proposed activities an individual will be conducting in Australia.

Business travellers will be able to undertake the following business related activities:

  • making general business or employment enquiries;

  • investigating, negotiating, signing or reviewing a business contract;

  • activities carried out as part of an official government-to-government visit;

  • participating in conferences, trade fairs or seminars, as long as you are not being paid by the organisers for your participation.

Unfortunately the definition of what constitutes as a business activity continues to puzzle many business travellers. In some instances a business activity inevitably becomes “work” which in Australia is defined as “any activity that would normally attract remuneration”. The broad definition of the term work is the key factor in making it difficult for many to understand the difference between the two terms or to know when there is a clear breach of visitor visa conditions.

Key factors to consider if an activity is work includes receiving payment and ultimately producing an output which would ordinarily attract payment.

Where there is a need to perform work whilst in Australia, there are options available outside employer sponsored migration, this includes the Subclass 400 Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) visa. This is a short term work visa which does not require sponsorship by an employer. This visa allows an individual to travel to Australia for a period of up to six months to perform highly specialised and non-ongoing work. A great alternative to sponsorship and potential solution where business activities fall outside the definition listed above.

Understanding key differences between work and business activities is vital. As mentioned previously, Australia proudly welcomes 500,000 visitors per month. The mammoth task of hosting half a million visitors’ poses a number of compliance related challenges. Specifically the need for greater scrutiny on arrival to ensure that foreign nationals entering Australia hold an appropriate visa which is consistent with their purpose of stay. Failure to arrive on an appropriate visa can result in immediate cancellation and deportation, which is never ideal for the visitor.

SCA Connect provides free online visa assessments for prospective applicants wanting to travel to Australia. To complete an online assessment on your eligibility for an Australian visa, please click here.

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