There are several visa options for people who are seeking to undertake visits to Australia for business purposes, such as Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601), eVisitor (subclass 651), or Visitor Visa (subclass 600) under the Business visitor streams. However, the activities permitted under these visas are limited. Performing work on these visas constitutes a breach of the visa conditions and could result in penalties.
As a general rule, business visitors are not permitted to work in Australia. Applicants may undertake a restricted range of activities referred to as ‘Business Visitor Activities’.
What is considered a ‘Business Visitor Activity”?
The purpose of the business visitor activity criteria is to prevent visitors from entering the Australian labor market or undertaking work while on visitor visas.
The Department of Home Affairs considers “Business Visitor Activities” any of the following undertaken by the business visitor:
- making a general business or employment enquiry;
- investigating, negotiating, entering into, or reviewing a business contract;
- an activity carried out as part of an official government-to-government visit;
- participation in a conference, trade fair, or seminar in Australia unless the person is being paid by an organiser for participation
In accordance with the Department’s Policy, it would also be acceptable for business visitors to travel to Australia to perform any of the following activities:
- take part in a conference, trade fair, or seminar (unless being paid to do so);
- make general business or employment enquiries, or attend business meetings;
- investigate, negotiate, enter into, or review a business contract;
- conduct activities as part of an official government visit.
However, the following activities are excluded and therefore, not considered “Business Visitor Activities”:
- an activity that is, or includes, undertaking work for, or supplying services to, an organisation or other person based in Australia;
- an activity that is, or includes, the sale of goods or services directly to the general public
Breach of Business Visitor conditions
Business visitors should ensure not to work in Australia on a Business Visitor visa. Breach of this policy may result in their visa being cancelled, removal or deportation from Australia, and a bar on future visas.
Employers who permit Business Visitors to undertake work in Australia may be found in breach of Australian migration laws. Penalties may include an illegal worker warning notification, civil or criminal penalties for company directors and executive officers.
Other visa options
If a business is looking to bring an overseas employee to work on a particular project in Australia for a short time, a Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) ( subclass 400) visa could be an attractive option.
The subclass 400 visa allows highly specialised workers to work in Australia for a short time (3 or 6 months). This visa must be applied outside of Australia and is designed only for non-ongoing work. Applicants should have highly specialised skills, knowledge or experience to undertake work for an Australian established business.
If a business expects the employee to work on a particular long-term project, other visa options should be considered such as a Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa.
If you require further information or advice, please book a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers here.