Supplying Australian Events: Immigration Focus

The visa requirements for companies providing goods and services to Australia are outlined for MEI readers by ASG Immigration’s George W Lake.

Australia – a country, a continent, an island! This extraordinary and unique land mass is roughly the size of the United States, minus Alaska. However, with a population that has only recently hit the 23m mark it contains less than 10% of the US’ inhabitants! Being an island ‘girt by sea’ Australia has one of the most sophisticated and effective electronic traveller entry and exit tracking control systems in the world.

The next few years will see Australia hosting several major international sporting events. In 2015 it will co-host the Cricket World Cup with New Zealand, in 2017 Australia will host the Rugby League World Cup (which will also be co-hosted with New Zealand) and in 2018 it will host the Commonwealth Games. In addition to international visitors coming to watch these major events and experience Australia’s unique culture, there are many visitors arriving for the purpose of temporarily supplying goods or services to the spectators, event participants, journalists and others.

Australia’s Visa Requirements

The requirement to obtain a visit visa before travelling to Australia will be determined by a person’s nationality. This is most often a question of reciprocity. The eVisitor visa (Subclass 651) is available to all citizens of the EU as well as several other Schengen Area affiliated countries*. The eVisitor visa (Subclass 651) is free for those eligible and allows the bearer to stay in Australia for periods of up to three months at a time for the purpose of tourism or business (but not work).

The ETA (Subclass 601) is available to both citizens that are eligible for eVisitor visas (Subclass 651) as well as citizens of some other countries** which also allow Australian citizen’s to enter them for free, whilst having some sort of service fee. ETAs have no application charge but do charge a AU$20 service charge. ETAs permit the bearer to travel to Australia as often as they like during a period of up to 12 months and, subject to the clearance of an Immigration Officer on arrival, stay for up to three months on each visit. As with the eVisitor visa (Subclass 651), they allow the bearer to enter for the purpose of tourism or business (but not work).

All other nationals (except for those of New Zealand who do not need to apply for a visa prior to entering Australia) who wish to visit Australia as tourists can apply for the Visitor Visa (subclass 600). These visas cost AU$115 and permits the holder to stay in Australia for a period of up to three months. Holders of this visa may also study or engage in training or (genuine) unpaid voluntary work incidental to their main purpose in Australia, Tourism. Holders of this visa may not engage in productive work.


Both the eVisitor visa (Subclass 651) and the ETA allow the holder to engage in business activities, such as contract negotiations and meetings, whilst in Australia. Those looking to work in Australia must follow a different route depending on their circumstances.

Australian Visas for Work and Business

An important visa category to consider is the recently introduced Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa (subclass 400). Introduced in March this visa is for those who may wish to participate in an event or events on a non-ongoing basis at the invitation of an Australian organization or to do short-term, highly specialized, non-ongoing work. The Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa (subclass 400) allows holders to stay and carry out the permitted work activities in Australia for six weeks, although the maximum stay allowed to carry out this short-term work, on an exceptional basis, is three months. An application for a Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa (subclass 400) costs AU$145. Considering the short duration of the upcoming sporting events in Australia, this visa category may be most appropriate for those wishing to supply a good or service which has a strong link to one of these international games.

Those coming to Australia for a longer period of time can apply for a Temporary Work (skilled) visa (subclass 457). In order to apply for such a visa, the applicant must be nominated by an approved business in Australia to work in an occupation that has been approved by the Australian government as a skilled occupation. An applicant must be able to meet the skill requirements for the nominated occupation and be able to demonstrate ‘vocational’ English, by meeting the required standard in the IELTS test (average 5.0 in each of the four bands of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening). An English test exemption is available for anyone holding a passport from the UK, USA, Ireland, New Zealand or Canada, or whose base salary will be at least $96,400. The 457 visa can cost from $1,230 to several thousand dollars, depending on family size, and the applicant’s location and visa history.

Those without a potential Australian employer who wish to work in Australia still have a route available which allows them to come to Australia to work. The Skilled – Independent (Migrant) Visa (subclass 189) allows for appropriately qualified foreigners to migrate to and work in Australia if they can pass a points based test. This visa allows for the holder to gain permanent residency and is suited to those who want to have a long-term presence in Australia.

It is quite possible that the Australian Department of Immigration & Citizenship (“DIAC”) will create a special streamlined visa for travellers coming to attend or participate in the major events listed at the beginning of this article. This was done when Sydney were the hosts of the 2000 Olympics. At this point in time DIAC has not announced any specific arrangements.

Needless to say, companies wishing to supply a service or goods at a major event in Australia who are not closely associated with an organising or government body are advised to commence planning their immigration arrangements well in advance. Those requiring a visa should apply at least six to eight weeks in advance of the intended travel date.

*Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Vatican City.

** Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, British National (Overseas) passport holders, Japan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and the United States.

This article is not intended to be a complete statement of the law relating to the subject matter. Advice should always be taken on specific matters and no responsibility can be accepted by ASG Immigration Limited for action taken based on the content of this article.

Additional information