Business travel is one of the least understood areas of immigration.
A recent PwC survey confirmed business travel is one of the most common types of mobility, yet it is one of the least supported in terms of policies and compliance procedures to manage it. Most company surveyed admitted that short term business travel needs more attention.
Type of visa needed
There are several visas available for non-citizens of Australia to enter, remain and work in Australia:
- Subclass 600 Visa (Business Stream) – this is the standard business visitor visa. It can be granted for up to 90 days, and prohibits visitors from engaging in substantive work other than defined business activities.
- Subclass 400 Visa – this visa is for project-based work or to attend an event. The work must be short-term, highly specialised and non-ongoing in nature. Generally it is granted for a period of three months. If a strong business justification is provided, the Subclass 400 Visa can be issued for up to six months.
- Subclass 457 Visa – this is the work visa for intra-company transferees to perform long term work assignments for up to four years. This visa requires employer sponsorship. It may also be possible for employees to apply for permanent residence. Dependents of the main applicant are granted full work rights.
Key questions to ask to determine the appropriate visa type:
- What is the business purpose of the travel?
- How long does the person need to stay in Australia?
- What tasks will be performed?
- When will the employee need to enter Australia?
Dos and don’ts for employers
Employers are encouraged to:
- ensure a person remains on the correct visa at all times
- ensure a person complies strictly with any conditions on the visa
- ensure tasks performed are consistent with the visa grant. Any work outside of this scope may be a breach of the visa conditions
- be aware of the minimum salary thresholds (presently $53,900 a year for Subclass 400 and 457 visas) and ensure the terms of employment comply with Australian workplace laws.
- Ensure awareness of immigration rules by key personnel including visa holders, their supervisors, and persons responsible for recruitment or onboarding employees.
To avoid legal risk to the business or the employee:
- never allow a person to work in breach of their visa
- never help someone obtain a visa using false information
- never give immigration advice when you are not a registered migration agent. This includes using knowledge that you have about immigration rules to assist a colleague to obtain a visa.
Failing to comply with the visa conditions can result in the visa being cancelled, removal of the visa holder from Australia, and the person may be prevented from obtaining another visa in future.
There are also serious consequences for the company, including fines and loss of sponsorship rights. For some individuals working in the business, there may be criminal convictions, fines or imprisonment.
NOTE: this article was originally published on NSW Business Chamber Workplace Info, 13 November 2015. URL: http://workplaceinfo.com.au/hr-management/analysis/are-you-complying-with-business-travel-rules