Fact sheet – Helping skilled and business people

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The Australian Government is committed to helping highly skilled individuals and successful business people to settle permanently in Australia.

We have introduced specific initiatives designed to stream-line processes for Australian businesses to help recruit overseas staff when vacancies cannot be filled by the local labour market, and to help non-Australian citizens conduct or establish business in Australia.

These measures recognise that Australian businesses must have access to skills, ideas, contacts and technology from overseas to be successful in today's increasingly global economy. They may need to recruit overseas staff with qualifications and relevant work experience to meet specific skill shortages in Australia.

There are also benefits for Australia in attracting experienced overseas business people to either establish or join businesses in Australia, bringing with them investments, new ideas and the prospect of creating new jobs.

Skilled migrants for permanent residence

There are a number of categories in the skilled stream to enable successful business people and highly skilled and qualified workers to migrate to Australia. These include:

  • Skilled – Independent: for skilled workers who are not sponsored by a state/territory, employer or family member.

  • Skilled – Nominated Sponsored: for skilled workers who are nominated by a state or territory government.

  • Skilled – Regional Sponsored: for skilled workers who are nominated by a state/territory government or an eligible relative to live and work in a specified designated area of Australia.

  • Business Migration: under the Business Innovation and Investment visa programme, people with backgrounds as business owners or investors can be nominated by a state or territory government for a provisional (temporary) visa in the first instance. After satisfactory evidence of a specified level of business or investment activity in Australia, business innovation and investment (provisional) visa holders can apply for permanent residence.

    High-calibre business migrants or entrepreneurs with venture capital funding, nominated by a state or territory government, may obtain up-front direct permanent residence under the business talent (permanent) category.
    Fact sheet – Business Innovation and Investment programme

  • Employer nomination: people nominated or sponsored by employers through schemes such as the Employer Nomination Scheme and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.
    Fact sheet – State Specific Regional Migration

Temporary entry short-stay

We have have established a range of services providing streamlined entry to Australia for business people applying for either short or long-term temporary stay.

The Business Visitor stream of the Visitor visa (subclass 600) allows business people to make a short visit to Australia for business visitor purposes. Business visitor purposes may include attending a conference, negotiation or an exploratory business visit. It may be issued for either single entry or for multiple entry. Business visitor purposes does not include work. If you are intending to carry out short-term, non-ongoing highly specialised work in Australia you should apply for the Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa (subclass 400).

The Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) allows tourists and business visitors to obtain visas for Australia for up to three months at the time they make their travel arrangements. It is available to passport holders from a number of countries and regions. On most occasions an ETA is issued as multiple entry and valid for 12 months from the date of grant. The ETA system is accessible by travel agencies and airlines in a number of countries. ETAs can also be applied for over the internet.
See: Fact sheet – The Electronic Travel Authority

The eVisitor allows visitors to travel to Australia for tourist or business visitor purposes for up to three months. It is available to passport holders from the European Union and a number of other European countries. It is multiple entry and valid for 12 months from the date of grant. You can apply for an eVisitor over the internet, but you must be outside Australia.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card provides business people with simplified entry to a number of economies of the APEC forum. Holders must be passport-holders of one of the participating economies—currently Australia, Brunei, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

APEC cardholders enjoy streamlined business visitor entry to participating economies to explore business opportunities, attend meetings and/or conduct trade and investment activities.

The Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) (subclass 400) visa allows business people to carry out short-term, highly specialised non-going work or to participate in non-ongoing cultural or social activities at the invitation of an organisation in Australia. It does not require sponsorship, but depending on the person's purpose of stay in Australia, applicants must be able to demonstrate:

  • they have the support of the proposed organisation for which they will be undertaking work in Australia
  • or that they have been invited to attend an event by an Australian organisation which is responsible for, or has a formal role in preparing for or conducting an event.

The subclass 400 visa allows for up to a three month stay in Australia.

Temporary long-stay visa options

The Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa is designed to enable employers to address labour shortages by bringing in genuinely skilled workers where they cannot find an appropriately skilled Australian worker.

The subclass 457 visa is the most commonly used programme for employers to sponsor overseas workers to work in Australia on a temporary basis.

The subclass 457 visa allows skilled people to work in Australia for an approved employer for a period of one day to four years. The prospective employer must first apply to become a standard business sponsor. Once an approved sponsor, the employer nominates the position to be filled by the overseas worker. The position must relate to an eligible occupation and the overseas worker must work in the position for which they were nominated.

A labour agreement is a formal arrangement negotiated between the Australian Government, represented by this department and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) and an employer. Labour agreements enable Australian employers to recruit a specified number of workers from overseas in response to identified labour market shortages.

Labour agreements operate in an environment of enhancing the employment prospects for Australians by including commitments to provide improved training for Australians. Employees may come to Australia on either a temporary or a permanent basis. Agreements are normally negotiated for a period of two to three years.

Business services

The department provides superior client service to business clients to ensure the Australian commercial environment continues to benefit from the entry of business migrants.

The department operates effective services for business clients, including:

  • A Skilled Migration Policy Branch and an Education, Tourism and International Arrangements Branch in its Canberra headquarters to ensure that the needs of business are taken into account in developing the department's business entry policies and procedures
  • Three centres of excellence in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth offices which offer a comprehensive and streamlined service for business people
  • Business skills processing centres located in Hong Kong and Perth for provisional business visa applicants or those applying for business talent visas outside Australia, and Adelaide for permanent business visa applicants, providing timely and consistent assessment of all applications for business migration processing in Australia.

Access to retirement savings

Eligible temporary residents can access their retirement savings (superannuation) upon permanent departure from Australia. For more information on accessing this money visit the Australian Taxation Office's website under 'Temporary residents'.