Establishing a business in Australia may require non-Australians to travel to Australia to assist in the setup process, or to work for an extended period of time. Depending on the employment conditions, businesses will often need to navigate the different visas types to find a visa that meets their specific needs.

There are 3 primary options to meet these situations:

  1. The Temporary Skills Shortage (Subclass 482) visa;
  2. The Temporary Work Activity (Subclass 400) visa; and
  3. Business Visitor Activity visasVisitor (Subclass 600 ) visa – alongside eVisitor ( Subclass 651) visa / Electronic Travel Authority (Subclass 601) visa.

It should be noted that these visas are not options leading to permanent residency; employment-based permanent visas should be considered separately.

The Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa (Subclass 482)

What is it?

The TSS Visa is the primary work visa with a three-pronged framework. Specifically, the employer sponsors the visa holder to work for the sponsoring employer in a nominated occupation. There are certain requirements that must be fulfilled with each stage of the application – you can find out more about it here.

When would you apply for it?

Where you cannot find an appropriately skilled Australian or permanent resident to fill an occupation for the foreseeable future.

The TSS Visa is valid for up to 4 years, depending on the position offered and how it relates to occupations on the Skilled Occupations List (SOL):

  • The Medium to Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL): Up to 4 years with continuous renewal available
  • The Short Term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL): Up to 2 years. It can only be renewed once onshore.

In comparison to the other visas on this list, the TSS is more appropriate for longer-term work which requires sustained contributions from foreign employees.

How long would it take to obtain?

Across all the different streams, the application usually takes anywhere from 20-54 days to process. To expedite this process, it is advisable to have all relevant documentation ready, as the tripartite process can take some time to navigate.

The Temporary Work Activity visa (Subclass 400)

What is it?

This visa allows for individuals to come to Australia and undertake non-ongoing, highly specialised work for a shorter duration of time. Individuals are also able to bring their family, provided they meet certain requirements and do not work in Australia.

When would you apply for it?

This visa is particularly suitable where employers (mostly outside of the entertainment industry) require specialised skills, knowledge or experience for highly specialised, short-term work that is not generally available in the Australian market,

Where you operate internationally, consider any relevant company-specific skills or expertise that your foreign employees can bring to setting up the business or engaging in any projects. You will need to provide evidence to support this claim.

This visa is more appropriate where you have certain projects that can be completed within 6 months, BUT the project is not more than 6 months away from the time of the application (as you must arrive in Australia within 6 months of the grant date). There are single or multiple entry options.

How long would it take to obtain?

The processing turnaround for this visa is relatively quick in most circumstances – it typically takes 14-21 days, subject to any variations.

For a more comprehensive outline of what this visa entails, click here.

Business Visitor Activity visas

What is it?

These are visas permitting ‘business visitor activities’, and are similar in their scope of application.

The Visitor (Subclass 600) visa is more typically known as a tourist visa, but the specific stream of ‘business visitor activities’ is particularly relevant.

The eVisitor (Subclass 651) allows citizens of specific European countries to come to Australia for tourism or ‘business visitor’ activities. The full list of countries can be found here.

The ETA (Subclass 601) operates under a similar model but is relevant for nationals from the US, Canada, and a variety of Asian countries (Brunei-Darrusalam, Hong Kong [SAR PRC], Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea).

When would you apply for it?

You would apply for this visa if you were taking part in ‘business visitor activities’, which can include:

  • Making general business/employment inquiries
  • Investigating, negotiating, signing or reviewing a business contract; and
  • Taking part in a conference, trade fair or seminar (Note: you cannot be paid by the relevant organisers to participate).

This visa is not appropriate where you are providing work for, or services to a business/organisation, or selling goods or services to the public. None of the above visas permit work.

How long would it take to obtain?

Processing time varies, The Department has indicated the vast majority of applications for a Visitor Visa, will take 12-18 days. However, they are typically processed by the Australian Embassy/Consulate/High Commission that is responsible for the country the applicant is residing in.

Conversely, eVisitor visas are mostly processed within 1 day. There are no estimated processing times for the ETA visa.

By: Hammond Taylor

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