Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) Visa (Subclass 400)

Maybe your business is opening up its first store in Australia and you need someone experienced from your team overseas to manage the opening. Maybe there is a special project that you have that requires very specific skills, and the best person for the job is overseas. They definitely are not a fit with the Temporary Work (Skilled) 457 visa or the Temporary Activity 400 visa. How do you get them here?

The Temporary Work (Short Stay Specialist) visa (subclass 400) is your golden ticket. A 400 visa holder is able to stay and work in Australia for up to 6 months, if the following requirements are met:

  • Need for applicant to be in Australia
  • Applicant is a genuine temporary entrant
  • Applicant is has means to support the stay in Australia
  • Applicant meets health and character requirements

The 400 visa has two streams, and depending on the stream, further requirements apply:

  • Highly specialised work stream
  • Australia’s interest stream


Need for applicant to be in Australia

Demonstrating why the applicant needs to be in Australia considers both if the applicant has the attributes and/or background that is relevant to the proposed activity/work, as well as that the applicant is physically needed in Australia to participate in the proposed activity/work.

Factors that contribute to this, naturally include the applicant’s current occupation and skill level, field of study or area of expertise, and how many times the applicant may have undertaken similar work. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) also takes into consideration if the applicant is sufficiently proficient in English so as to perform the proposed activity/work, age, qualifications and employment history.


Genuine temporary entrant

An application is assessed as a whole in determining if an applicant will be a genuine temporary applicant, but consideration is given as to if the applicant has complied substantially to any previous substantive visa he might have held in Australia and if the applicant is likely to comply to the conditions attached to the 400 visa.


Adequate means of support

Evidence needs to be provided that demonstrates that the applicant will be able to support themselves in their time in Australia. This could come in the official letters in which the applicant’s salary and/or allowance is detailed, or if there has been an agreement for the applicant’s travel or accommodation expenses to be covered.

If the DIBP has doubts with the evidence provided, they may request for further information such as the applicant’s bank statement, if any government support, loans or credit card funds exists, written communications from people in Australia who may be offering support with expenses.


Highly specialised work stream

This stream is for applicants who are to undertake work that is highly specialised. The applicant would have highly specialised skills, knowledge or experience that could assist an Australian business, and whose skill set is not reasonably found in the Australian labour market. These may include ANZSCO Major Groups 1 – 3; managers, professional, technicians and trade workers. Other highly specialised workers are also able to apply if requirements are met.

To demonstrate this, one might provide:

  • Statements by the prospective employer
  • An assessment by the relevant peak industry body
  • Evidence from a large reputable employment agency

Further information, if applicable, on the project should be included. Details such as the size and duration of the project, project schedule and number of Australians that will be employed on the project, or projection of the number of future positions for Australians that the project is expected to create.

If the activity/work to be perform in Australia requires registration or licensing, the DIBP may on discretion, request for evidence of registration or licensing, or that the applicant will meet registration or licensing requirements.

Study and training restrictions and entertainment industry restrictions may apply, depending on the circumstances for which the applicant is applying for the 400 visa.


Overseas technology

In a situation where the applicant is trained in good or services that was developed by an overseas company and those goods or services are being introduced or are in the Australian market, it needs to be that the knowledge or skills related to that good or service is difficult to obtain from the Australian workforce.

Examples of eligible scenarios that would require the skills of an overseas worker would be:

  • The applicant is trained in equipment that has been recently imported, for installation or maintenance
  • If there are contractual obligations relating to the installation or servicing of a piece of equipment
  • The applicant is a specialised engineer advising on a particular procedure or produce which is not in use in Australia
  • The applicant is a training professional and is supporting the introduction of new products, concepts or methods to the Australian workforce or the opening of an international business in Australia
  • An internal auditor of an international company that needs to audit the Australian subsidiary against company specific control standards


Not reasonably available in Australia

Another situation in which the applicant may be eligible is if their skills are available in the Australian workforce but are difficult to obtain. This could be because the number of people with the skills required are not substantial and are all already in employment.

Evidence must of course be provided to show that efforts have been made to procure skilled workers from the Australian labour market.


Work is non-ongoing

The applicant’s participation in the proposed activity or work should be completed under a single period of 6 months and cannot have been given an expectation of, or made arrangements to stay on in Australia after the expiry of their visa, to continue in the work.

Applicants who have a history of frequent entry into Australia will face more scrutiny, regardless of what visa types they have been coming into Australia on. It is of even more concern if the stays have been for long periods.


Longer term stays/large group applications

Applications where a longer duration of work is being requested or there are large group applications for a single project will be looked at more closely. Generally it is expected that a stay of 3 months is sufficient. Requests for longer periods allows for a validity of up to 6 months.

In general, senior executives (such as CEOs and vice presidents) of multinational corporations (MNCs) who are based overseas with management oversight of Australian subsidiaries and are passport holders of eligible ETA/eVisitor countries with similar work and pay conditions to Australia, are considered a low risk are more likely to be granted a 6 month stay period without further requests for information.

Given that the nature of the proposed activity/work may be very varied, there is no one rule fits all. If you are applying for a longer stay visa or making large group applications, bear in mind to carefully document how the proposed activity/work might be of benefit to Australia, and/or why it is necessary for the applicant to be in Australia, and/or any evidence on why it is not likely that the an overseas specialist will need to continually return. An example would be that the current applicant is entering Australia to train Australian workers.


Employment conditions

Applicants who are passport holders of eligible ETA/eVisitor countries with similar work and pay conditions to Australia are unlikely to call attention and the DIBP is unlikely to enquire further into employment conditions.

If the DIBP is looking into the employment conditions of the applicant, it is expected that the applicant’s remuneration and work conditions are to be accordance with Australian standards. If such information is not available, ANZSCO Major Groups 1-3 occupations (Managers, Professionals, Technicians and Trades Workers) should meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT).


Australia’s Interest Stream

Don’t fit in the highly specialised work stream? The 400 visa is still possible if the proposed activity/work has compelling circumstances that would affect Australia’s interests. This is the only additional criteria for the Australia’s interest stream.

Unlike the highly specialised work stream, the Australia’s interest stream has far less restrictions. There is no requirement that work is non-going, nor that there will be no adverse consequences for the employment of training of Australian citizens or permanent residents. No study and training restrictions or entertainment industry restrictions apply.

Examples compelling circumstances:

  • The applicant is required to assist in a disaster or emergency
  • Australia’s relationship with a foreign government would be damaged if the applicant is not granted the visa
  • Australia would miss out on a significant benefit that the person could contribute to Australia’s business, economic, cultural or other development
  • The applicant has a special skill that is highly sought after in Australia
  • Australia’s trade or business opportunities would be adversely affected

There are many possible circumstances under which one might be eligible, and the kind of evidence that should be provided in an application is very dependent on individual circumstances. It is therefore very important to understand what the DIBP takes into account in assessing a 400 visa application as as to submit a strong application.