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Changes to Australia’s Visitor Visa Program

25.03.2013 02:13 Age: 4 yrs

On 23 March 2013, a series of significant changes to Australia’s Visitor Visa structure were implemented.


The recent changes to the Visitor Visa program come as part of the Australian Government's overall commitment to simplify and deregulate Australia’s immigration program.

The reforms reduce the number of Visitor Visa subclasses from nine to five, and are intended to facilitate a clearer distinction between work and business visa obligations and entitlements. They also aim to standardise eligibility requirements across Australia’s Visitor visa program.

What has changed?

The reforms to the Visitor Visa program mean that most of the previous Visitor Visa subclasses are no longer available for new applications. Instead, they have been replaced with a new series of visa subclasses.

From 23 March 2013, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship is no longer accepting applications for the following visas:

  • Tourist visa (subclass 676)
  • Sponsored family visitor visa (subclass 679)
  • Business (short Stay) visa (Subclass 456)
  • Sponsored business visitor (short stay) visa (subclass 459)
  • Medical Treatment (short stay) visa (subclass 675)
  • Medical Treatment (long stay) visa (subclass 685)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (visitor) (subclass 976)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (business – short validity) (subclass 977)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (business – long validity) (subclass 956).

Applicants for an Australian visitor visa now need to apply under one of the following five new Visitor Visa Subclasses:

  • Temporary work (short stay activity) visa (subclass 400)
  • Visitor visa (subclass 600)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601)
  • Medical Treatment visa (subclass 602)
  • eVisitor (subclass 651) 


What are the details of the new Visitor visa subclasses?

The purposes and entitlements of the new Visitor Visa subclasses are as follows:

Temporary work (short stay activity) visa (subclass 400)

The Temporary work (short stay activity) visa (subclass 400) is intended to replace the previous Business Visitor visa (subclasses 456 and 459) and Business Visitor ETA (subclasses 956 and 977).

This visa permits the holder to come to Australia on a temporary basis to:

  • do short-term work that is highly specialised and is non-ongoing
  • participate in a specific event in Australia as an invited participant by an Australian organisation.

Generally, this visa is valid for a period of up to 6 weeks, but applicants can apply for a validity period of up to 3 months in special circumstances.

Visitor visa (subclass 600)

The new Visitor Visa (subclass 600) visa replaces a range of previous visas, including Tourist visa subclasses 676 and 679.

This visa permits the holder to travel to Australia for tourist purposes or business visitor activities.

Tourism purposes may include holidays, recreation or visiting family or friends.

Business visitor activities may include attending a conference, a business negotiation, or exploring business options.

This visa is generally valid for a period of between 3 and 12 months.

Note that a holder of this visa cannot undertake work for or provide services to a business or organisation in Australia. Applicants intending to undertake short-term work in Australia will need to apply for the new Temporary work (short stay activity) visa (subclass 400).

Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601)

The new Electronic Travel Authority visa (subclass 601) is intended to replace the ETA visas (subclass 976, 977 and 956).

Note that only persons holding a valid passport from certain approved countries (mainly Europe, North America and North East Asia) are eligible to apply for an ETA visa.

Similar to the Visitor visa (subclass 600), the ETA (subclass 601) visa permits the holder to travel to Australia for tourist purposes or business visitor activities. Tourism purposes may include holidays, recreation or visiting family or friends. Business visitor activities may include attending a conference, a business negotiation, or exploring business options.

Note that a holder of this visa cannot undertake work for or provide services to a business or organisation in Australia. Applicants intending to undertake short-term work in Australia will need to apply for the new Temporary work (short stay activity) visa (subclass 400).

The new ETA (subclass 601) visa is available either through travel agents, airlines or through the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.

Medical Treatment visa (subclass 602)

The new Medical Treatment visa (subclass 602) is intended to replace the current Medical Treatment visas (subclasses 675 and 685).

This visa permits the holder to travel to Australia for medical treatment or medical consultation. It is a temporary visa, and is generally valid for a period of up to 3 months.

eVisitor (subclass 651)

The eVisitor visa (subclass 651) is already in existence. Note that only persons holding a valid passport from certain approved European countries are eligible to apply for this visa.

The eVisitor visa allows the holder to travel to Australia for tourist purposes or business visitor activities. Tourism purposes may include holidays, recreation or visiting family or friends. Business visitor activities may include attending a conference, a business negotiation, or exploring business options.

This visa generally holds a validity period of between 3 and 12 months. This visa is free of charge and is applied for via the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.

You cannot work for or provide services to a business or organisation in Australia or sell goods or services to the public on an eVisitor visa.  If you are intending to carry out short-term work in Australia you should apply for the new Temporary work (short stay activity) visa (subclass 400).


How do these changes affect new applicants?

It is important to remember that these reforms only effect the structure of Australia’s Visitor Visa program. They do not effect an applicant’s eligibility for an Australian Visitor visa, nor the entitlements enjoyed by holders of Australian Visitor visas.  

If you are considering applying for an Australian Visitor visa, and you would like to know more about these changes and how they affect the application process, please contact Haag Walker Lawyers for professional and friendly assistance.

 

 


 
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