Opinion: Business travel visas - checklist for employers

by External27 Nov 2015
Business travel visa requirements can be complicated. Sarah Thapa provides a handy guide.

Business travel is one of the most common types of mobility but in our experience it is one of the least understood areas of immigration. Having an awareness of the dos and don’ts of employing, managing and supervising overseas workers is key to managing the significant legal risks to the company and the employee

Type of visa needed

There are a number of visas available for a non-citizen of Australia to enter, remain and work in Australia:
  • Subclass 600 Visa (Business Stream) – this is the standard business visitor visa. It can be granted for up to 90 days, and prohibits visitors from engaging in substantive work other than defined business activities.
  • Subclass 400 Visa – this visa is for project-based work or to attend an event. The work must be short-term, highly specialised and non-ongoing in nature. Generally it is granted for a period of 3 months.  If a strong business justification is provided, the Subclass 400 Visa can be issued for up to 6 months.
  • Subclass 457 Visa – this is the work visa for intra-company transferees to perform long term work assignments for up to 4 years. This visa requires employer sponsorship.  It may also be possible for employees to apply for permanent residence. Dependents of the main applicant are granted full work rights.
Key questions to ask the business in order to determine the appropriate visa type:
  • What is the business purpose of the travel?
  • How long does the person need to stay in Australia?
  • What tasks will be performed?
  • When will the employee need to enter Australia?
Do's and don'ts for employers

mployers are encouraged to:
  • Ensure that the person remains on the correct visa at all times.
  • Ensure that the person complies strictly with any conditions on the visa.
  • Monitor the tasks performed by the employee to ensure they are consistent with the visa grant. Any work outside of this scope may be a breach of the visa conditions.
  • Be aware of the minimum salary thresholds (currently $53,900pa for Subclass 400 and 457 visas) and ensure the terms of employment comply with Australian workplace laws.
  • Ensure awareness of immigration rules by key personnel including visa holders, their supervisors, and persons responsible for recruitment or on-boarding employees.
For employers to avoid any legal risk to the business or the employee:
  • Never allow a person to work in breach of their visa
  • Never help someone obtain a visa using false information
  • Never give immigration advice when you are not a registered migration agent. This includes using knowledge that you have about immigration rules to assist a colleague to obtain a visa.
Failure to comply with the visa conditions can result in the visa being cancelled, removal of the visa holder from Australia, and the person may be prevented from obtaining another visa in future. There are also serious consequences for the company, including fines, loss of sponsorship rights and in some cases for the individuals working in the business such as criminal convictions, fines or imprisonment.

About the author
Sarah Thapa is the managing director of The Migration Agency, a specialist visa and immigration services firm for business and employees. The firm’s focus is on improving the delivery of immigration services to help businesses access international talent more efficiently. With a flat operating model and cloud-base systems, clients get direct access to highly experienced, immigration specialists in a highly flexible and cost-effective service delivery format. www.themigrationagency.com.au