Immigration and Australia

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The visa requirements for companies providing goods and services to Australian major events are outlined for MEI readers by ASG Immigration's Cameron Stone.

Australia has long been recognised as a country that holds successful large–scale sporting events. Regular international sporting fixtures include the Formula One Grand Prix, the Australian Open tennis and the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Past events have included the Olympics in 1956 (Melbourne) and 2000 (Sydney), the Commonwealth Games in 2006, and the FINA World Swimming Championships in 2007. Major annual 'non–sporting' events include the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the 'Womadelaide' world music festival held in Adelaide and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. In addition to international visitors coming to watch these major events, there are many visitors arriving for the purpose of temporarily supplying goods or services to the spectators, event participants, journalists and others. General visa requirements for large–scale eventsEntry requirements for people providing goods and services at major events can vary significantly for different countries. Work permission is generally required if a person is to work in a foreign country, however short periods of work can sometimes be allowed on Visit (non–work) visas. It is also the case that special arrangements are sometimes made for large–scale events. Australia's visa requirements Apart from New Zealand nationals, who are granted entry permission into Australia at the border, it is the general rule that all other nationalities are required to obtain permission before they enter Australia, regardless of the length or purpose of stay. However something similar to a visa–national system (which many countries have) is in place for visitors, with nationals of certain countries such as the US, the UK, and most European countries enjoying more streamlined visa application procedures. For nationals of these countries, most Visit visas are approved on–line within a few seconds. A visa label is not required as evidence of the existence of the visa as the visa grant is recorded electronically. For 'visa–nationals' a paper visa application with supporting documentation is usually required. Australia is similar to many other countries in that – as a general principle – Business Visit visa holders are not allowed to work. Holders of Business Visit visas are allowed to attend business meetings, conferences and other activities related to new business opportunities. Short periods of work may be allowed, however, where the work is non–ongoing (i. e. for a short period) and highly specialised. Business Visit visas allow stays of up to three months. Work Permits are generally required if a foreign national intends to work and these allow for periods of temporary work of up to four years. Like certain other countries, the employer must first apply to be eligible to 'sponsor' an employee. A specific position and corresponding salary is then 'nominated' for a particular person, who applies for a visa to enter Australia in order to commence work in that position. In addition to the standard work permit arrangements discussed above, Australia also has several temporary residence visa categories which involve the sponsoring of persons entering for special purposes, including the 'Entertainment', 'Religious Worker' and 'Sport' visas. The Sport visa applies generally to persons such as competitors and coaches involved in events of longer duration, or one or more sporting seasons. This visa does not apply to service suppliers. In terms of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), Australia is a signatory country and has streamlined arrangements in place for persons applying for a visa to enter Australia for the purpose of negotiating and/or entering into a contract for the purpose of supplying a service in Australia for a stay of up to 12 months (actual service provision is not permitted). Australia is also a member of the Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card scheme, which facilitates business entry for nationals of member countries by removing the requirement to apply for a Business Visit visa. Holders of APEC cards also enjoy fast–track arrival and departure procedures at airports. Other APEC Business Travel Card scheme members are: Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China and Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam. Australia's visa requirements for suppliers for large–scale events Australia's visa arrangements for events do not alter significantly, with standard short–term entry visa categories being generally appropriate for entry for participants and sportspersons and visitors coming to see events. However the visa application process can be streamlined and facilitated for athletes and competing teams and support staff where there is large scale event–related entry, such as with the 2006 Commonwealth Games and the 2007 FINA World Swimming Championships. Visa arrangements for businesses supplying goods or services at major events are also essentially the same as that discussed above for short–term entry (where entry may be allowed if the work is highly specialised and non–ongoing) but standard work permit arrangements would most likely apply for most businesses. Visa applications for persons supplying goods or services to bodies closely related to the running of an event, for example directly supplying services to an event organising body, would most likely be facilitated. Overall, 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. Cameron Stone works for ASG Immigration Limited in London and advises on global immigration as their International Specialist. He is a qualified Australian immigration adviser (MARN 0853023) and can be contacted on 44 20 7299 3330 or via e–mail at cameron@asgvisa. com. 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.

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