Doing Business in Australia 2013: Immigration

“Australia has a range of temporary and permanent visas for people wishing to come to Australia for business purposes.”

Temporary residency

Short term business visits

For short term business visits, the following options 
are available:

  • business Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) short and long validity (subclasses 956 and 977) – for passport holders from a number of countries and regions
  • eVisitor (subclass 651) – for passport holders from the European Union and a number of other European countries
  • APEC Business Travel Card
  • business (Short Stay) visa (subclass 456) - for business people who are not eligible to apply for an ETA or an eVisitor, and
  • sponsored Business Visitor (Short Stay) visa (subclass 459) - for business people who have an approved sponsor in Australia.

For each of the above visas, the purpose of entry must be conducting business on behalf of an overseas business as opposed to employment by an Australian business. Activities included in the meaning of conducting business are:

  • attending a conference or training session
  • negotiating business deals or contracts
  • exploring business options
  • business meetings.

There is a very limited scope for working on a short-term project requiring a high level of skill. Meeting this requirement requires specific advice.

These visas allow for potentially multiple entries  with stays of up to 3 months on each visit.

Long term business visit

For foreign employees of companies in Australia or offshore who are required to work temporarily in Australia, the relevant visa is a Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa (457 visa). The 457 visa is for:

  • personnel for companies operating in Australia who have a temporary skill shortage
  • personnel from offshore companies seeking to establish, or help to establish, a business operation in Australia, participate in joint ventures, or fulfil a contract awarded to an offshore company, or
  • personnel coming under a labour agreement.

The position to be filled by the overseas worker must be for an occupation which is approved under the 457 visa program. The approved occupations fall within the occupations of managers, professionals, technicians and trade workers, community and personal service workers, clerical and administrative workers, sales workers and labourers. Sponsors who want to employ an overseas worker in an occupation which is not approved under the 457 visa program must do so under a labour agreement.

The 457 visa allows a stay of between one day and four years. To be granted a 457 visa, the visa applicant must demonstrate, among other things, that:

  • they have the skills, qualifications, experience and an employment background which match those required for the position
  • they meet the English language proficiency requirement (unless they are exempt)
  • if required to do so, have the relevant licensing and registration required to perform the nominated position.

Permanent residency

The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) allows Australian employers to sponsor highly skilled workers for a permanent visa to work in Australia. The nominated position must correspond to an approved occupation for the purposes of the ENS. The employees can be either:

  • highly skilled workers from overseas, or
  • highly skilled temporary residents (ie 457 visa holders) currently in Australia. 

This ENS allows the employee and any dependent family members included in their visa application to live as permanent residents in Australia.

The ENS consists of three streams:

  • the Direct Entry stream is for applicants who are untested in the Australian labour market, or have not held a 457 visa for at least 2 years with their nominating employer or who are applying directly from outside Australia
  • the Temporary Residence Transition stream is for 457 visa holders who have worked for their employer for at least 2 years in the nominated occupation and the employer wants to offer them a permanent position in that same occupation, and
  • the Agreement stream is for applicants who are being sponsored by an employer through a tailored and negotiated labour agreement or regional migration agreement.