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Temporary Work (International Relations) Visa – Subclass 403

What is this Visa?

The Temporary Work (International Relations) visa – subclass 403 is intended to facilitate the entry of persons to work or undertake an activity in Australia that serves Australia’s international relations interests, including:

  • persons entering under a bilateral government agreement between Australia and another country

  • representatives of foreign government agencies without official status in Australia

  • foreign language teachers who are to be employed in Australia by their government

  • domestic workers to be employed in a private capacity in Australia by diplomatic or consular representatives and certain representatives of international organisations

  • persons accorded privileges and immunities under the International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1963 or the Overseas Missions (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1995

  • persons participating in the Seasonal Worker Program working in agricultural and accommodation industries in Australia and

  • persons participating in the Pacific Labour Scheme, working in low and semi-skilled non-seasonal work in rural and regional Australia.

The subclass 403 visa comprises 6 streams:

+What is Stream 1 — Government Agreement

The Government Agreement stream provides for the entry of persons who satisfy the terms and conditions of a certain bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth (or an Australian State/Territory government) and the government of another country. The agreement should be at least in part about facilitating the temporary entry of persons to Australia.

+ What is Stream 2 — Foreign Government Agency

The Foreign Government Agency stream provides for the entry of representatives of foreign government agencies who will not be given official status in Australia by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and foreign language teachers who are to be employed in Australia by a foreign government as a language teacher in an Australian school.

+ What is Stream 3 — Domestic Worker (Diplomatic or Consular)

The Domestic Worker stream provides for the entry of domestic workers who will be employed in a private capacity by diplomatic or consular representatives or representatives of certain international organisations (Diplomatic visa (subclass 995) holders posted to Australia who have been officially accredited by DFAT. These include, for example, United Nations (UN) bodies and other international bodies recognised by Australia. Applicants must have the approval of DFAT. This stream does not allow secondary applicants. Service staff (for example drivers, cooks, cleaners and gardeners) employed by the diplomatic or consular missions or an office of an international organisation should apply for the Diplomatic (TF995) visa.

+ What is Stream 4 — Privileges and Immunities

The Privileges and Immunities stream provides for the entry of persons:

  • to whom privileges and immunities have been or will be accorded under the International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1963 or the Overseas Missions (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1995 and
  • whom the Australian Foreign Minister has recommended in writing should be granted a visa.

These persons typically include representatives of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Trade and Economic Office and the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office but may include others.

+ What is Stream 5 — Seasonal Worker Program (SWP)

The Seasonal Worker Program provides for the entry of persons under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Australian Government and the governments of participating countries to work in agricultural and accommodation industries in Australia.

The main objective of the Seasonal Worker Program is for seasonal workers to contribute to the economic development of their home country through skills transfers and remittances, while assisting Australian employers in selected industries who cannot source local labour. This program is limited to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The leading agency for the Seasonal Worker Program is the Department of Jobs and Small Business (DJSB). This stream does not allow secondary applicants.

+ What is Stream 6 — Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS)

The Pacific Labour Scheme provides for the entry of persons under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Australian Government and the governments of participating countries in the Pacific to work in non-seasonal low and semi skilled occupations in rural and regional Australia. The Pacific Labour Scheme supports Australia’s commitment to ‘step up’ our engagement in the Pacific strengthening the region’s economic resilience by increasing opportunities for labour mobility and to satisfy unmet demand in the Australian labour market. The Pacific Labour Scheme will:

  • focus on sectors in Australia with projected job growth which match Pacific island skill sets;
  • be employer-sponsored and require labour market testing to ensure Australians have priority for local jobs; and
  • contain protections to safeguard against worker exploitation.

DFAT is the lead agency for the Pacific Labour Scheme, and all visa holders and employers require DFAT endorsement in order to participate in the Pacific Labour Scheme.

This stream does not allow secondary applicants.


What is the Application Process?

There are 2 stages involved in the application processes:

stage 1: SPONSORSHIP APPLICATION

+ Streams that do not require Sponsorship

Visa applicants in the Government Agreement, Foreign Government Agreement, Domestic Worker and Privileges and Immunities streams are not sponsored. Rather, the applicant must be able to demonstrate that they have the support, as relevant, of the following:

  • for the Government Agreement stream — the government signatories to the relevant agreement
  • for the Foreign Government Agency stream — the foreign government agency and in the case of language teachers, the relevant state/territory education authority or the Australian school where the teacher will be employed and
  • for the Domestic Worker stream — the Australian Foreign Minister (usually in the form of a diplomatic cable or letter of support from DFAT’s Protocol Branch) and Privileges and Immunities stream — the Australian Foreign Minister (usually in the form of a diplomatic cable or letter of support from DFAT’s Protocol Branch).

Visa applicants in the Privileges and Immunities stream do not require support or sponsorship. The Australian Foreign Minister is required to provide a written recommendation.

+ Streams that require Sponsorship

Visa applicants applying under the following streams must be sponsored by an approved temporary activities sponsor:

  • Seasonal Worker Program
  • Pacific Labour Scheme (additionally Sponsors must be endorsed by DFAT)

Requirements for approval as Sponsor are found at Temporary Activities Sponsor (hyperlink back to 407 Sponsorship Stage)

Employ Seasonal Worker Program

Australian organisations wishing to participate in the Seasonal Worker Program convey their interest to DJSB via an Expression of Interest (EOI). The EOI is an application for assessment by DJSB to become an approved employer.

As the lead agency for the SWP, DJSB assesses the eligibility of organisations to participate in the SWP according to their requirements. As part of the EOI process this department (Temporary Specialist Visa Section) provides DJSB with information on the following criteria:

  • the organisation has good immigration practices and there is no adverse information known to the department about the organisation, or persons associated with the organisation, and
  • the organisation meets the requirements and structure of an ‘Australian organisation’ that is lawfully operating in Australia (r 2.60(c) and r 2.57).

An integrity check of the business and its managers and or directors is conducted, and details are verified about the business registrations, management and organisation structure. If an integrity check results in adverse information, the department will provide written advice to DJSB.

Organisations that meet DJSB’s requirements will enter into a Deed of Agreement with DJSB. Approved organisations are then required to apply for approval as a temporary activity sponsor with the department.

Further information including the EOI application template for the SWP are available from the DJSB webpage: Information for employers on how to recruit seasonal workers.

 

stage 2: visa APPLICATION

In all 6 streams the visa applicants must:

  • meet health and character requirements.

  • maintain adequate health insurance during the period of their intended stay in Australia.

  • meet genuine temporary entrant (GTE) requirements.

  • possess adequate means to support themselves during the period of their intended stay in Australia.

If the applicant is in Australia at the time of application, if they are holding a visa, it cannot be a subclass 403 visa (Domestic Worker (Diplomatic or Consular) stream, subclass 771 and special purpose visa. If they do not hold a visa, they will be required to meet Schedule 3 requirements. The following streams are exempted from this requirement:

  • Stream 3 — Domestic Worker (Diplomatic or Consular)

  • Stream 5 — Seasonal Worker Program (SWP)

  • Stream 6 — Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS)

+ 1. What is Stream 1 — Government Agreement?

This stream allows persons to enter Australia under the terms of a bilateral agreement between Australia and another country. Government agreements can cover a diverse range of activities; the agreement could be, for example, between the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and its equivalent in France for the exchange of appropriately qualified scientists to undertake particular research. The requirements are as follows:

  1. The applicant will be engaged in work, or an activity, in Australia in accordance with the terms and conditions of a relevant agreement.
  2. The applicant meets the requirements of the relevant agreement and an Australian signatory agrees to the applicant’s stay in Australia.
  3. The foreign signatory agrees to the applicant’s stay in Australia. If the foreign signatory is not the national government of the relevant foreign country, the national government of the foreign country does not oppose the applicant’s stay in Australia.
  4. In some cases, the Department may request the applicant provide a letter from an Australian signatory stating the applicant’s employment will be in accordance with Australian laws.
  5. The employment or engagement of the applicant would be of benefit to Australia.

+ 2. What is Stream 2 — Foreign Government Agency?

This stream requires that the applicant be a person who seeks to enter Australia to be employed as a representative of a foreign government agency that does not enjoy official status in Australia, and would not, as a representative of that kind, enjoy official status in Australia, or as a foreign language teacher intending to work in an Australian school but as an employee of a foreign government.

The employment or engagement of the applicant would be of benefit to Australia. The application has the support, in writing, of the foreign government agency.

+ 3. What is Stream 3 — Domestic Worker (Diplomatic or Consular)?

This stream does not allow secondary applicants. It is for temporary stay of domestic workers who intend to be employed full time and exclusively in the household of a Diplomatic visa (TF-995) holder who is an accredited diplomat or consular officer in Australia.

  1. The applicant must be at least 18 years old.
  2. If the applicant is in Australia, they must be holding the same visa and under the same stream. If they don’t have a visa, then they are required to meet Schedule 3 requirements.
  3. The applicant is to be employed or engaged in Australia in accordance with the standards for wages and working conditions provided for under relevant Australian legislation and awards.
  4. The applicant must have the written support of the Foreign Minister. Diplomatic and consular staff who wish to bring private domestic employees to Australia are required to send a request by diplomatic note to DFAT’s Protocol Branch or the nearest Australian diplomatic mission or consular post overseas. DFAT’s Protocol Branch then provides confirmation to the relevant mission, post or foreign ministry whether the employer is entitled to bring a private domestic worker from abroad.

It is departmental policy that all applicants are to be interviewed. Offshore applicants must be interviewed by an officer prior to visa grant to assess the situation into which they will be entering. As the domestic worker’s employers enjoy diplomatic immunity (that is, they cannot face criminal charges), the officers are required to take all steps prior to the grant of the applicant’s visa to ensure the applicants are entering a situation that is generally acceptable in Australia. Interviews will be conducted in-person or by video conference (applicant to attend the nearest Australian mission).

+ What is Stream 4 — Privileges and Immunities?

The main requirements are:

  • The applicant is a person to whom privileges and immunities are, or are expected to be, accorded to the applicant under the International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1963 or the Overseas Missions (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1995.
  • The application has the support, in writing, of the Foreign Minister.

+ What is Stream 5 — Seasonal Worker Program (SWP)?

This stream is for persons who have been invited by a temporary activities sponsor to participate in a program of seasonal work, where the organisation has been approved by the Department of Jobs and Small Business.

Agreements must be in place to enable the citizens who are residents of these countries to participate in the program. Under policy, and in accordance with the agreements, citizens of participating countries who reside in another country will not be considered for inclusion in the program. Participating governments:

  • enter into the agreement with a view to maintaining the integrity of the program by providing a labour force that complies with all relevant laws and requirements of the program and
  • commit to ensuring that only eligible workers submit visa applications by establishing pre-selection and screening processes that uphold the principles and integrity of the program.

[P Sch2.403-4-9-3]4.9.3 Letter of invitation

SWP stream visa applicants are required to demonstrate that an approved sponsor has agreed, in writing to be their sponsor (clause 403.261(a)). This is usually achieved by providing a copy of their letter of invitation from their approved temporary activities sponsor using the sponsor’s letterhead. The following information should be included in the letter:

The leading agency for the Seasonal Worker Program is the Department of Jobs and Small Business (DJSB).

This stream does not allow secondary applicants.

+ What is Stream 6 — Pacific Labour Scheme?

The Pacific Labour Scheme provides for the entry of persons under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Australian Government and the governments of participating countries in the Pacific to work in non-seasonal low and semi skilled occupations in rural and regional Australia.


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What Questions Do Migration Agents Ask Our Accredited Specialists

  1. Under what business structure, can a job placement company, apply to be a sponsor with the sole purpose of charging a fee to visa applicants? And is there a method which would allow the sponsor to place the visa applicant with another unrelated business?

  2. How can employers charge a payment to the visa applicants in exchange to sponsor, without being caught under the immigration offence ‘cash for visa’?

  3. How many types of visas (including streams), can a Temporary Activities Sponsor benefit from, in sponsoring more candidates? And are there any difference in the sponsorship obligation?

  4. Can a visa applicant pay for costs related to the visa applicant? or must the Sponsor pay for all costs? How do I explain & educate my client, a large company who does not wish to pay for any costs for the sponsorship because the Director feels that the visa applicant has more to benefit than the company.

  5. In what circumstances will a visa applicant lose their right to appeal a refusal?