408 Temporary Activity Visa

Subclass 408 is a temporary visa that allows individuals to carry out specific types of work on a short-term basis. This visa does not require nomination, but for applicants who seek to stay longer than 3 months on this visa, the Australian employers need to be approved as temporary activity sponsors. The prescribed types of work include:

  1. Invited Participation in an event
  2. Sport
  3. Religious Work
  4. Domestic Work (Executive)
  5. Superyacht Crew
  6. Research
  7. Staff Exchange
  8. “Special Program”
  9. Entertainment
  10. Australian Government Endorsed Event

Different criteria apply depending on the types of work to be undertaken. The aforementioned permissible work has been expounded upon hereunder. 

All applicants must maintain adequate health insurance for the duration of their stay and have adequate means of support to fund their Australian travels. 

COVID-19 Pandemic Visa

Under the “Australian government endorsed event stream,” the Australian government has implemented concessional visa eligibility in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These transitional arrangements define certain classes of people as “participating” in a “Covid-19 event” and allows them to apply for Subclass 408 if the applicable criteria is met.

Subclass 408 visas of this variety are available to the following broad classes of applicant:

  • Certain event response workers
  • Persons unable to depart Australia
  • Certain aged care workers
  • Certain critical sector workers
  • “Seasonal Worker Program” participants 

Certain Event Response Workers

Pursuant to LIN (21/021), applicants may qualify where:

  • they are employed full-time, as essential staff of an overseas business that;
    • is relocating to Australia; and
    • will assist Australia’s response to the pandemic; and
  • they will assist with the establishment of the business’s operation in Australia; and
  • makes their application between 27 February 2021 and 20 june 2022; and 
  • Has not previously been granted a visa in accordance with these arrangements. 

Persons Unable to Depart Australia

Pursuant to LIN (21/021), applicants may qualify where:

  • they are in Australia; and
  • are unable to depart Australia due to the pandemic; and
  • either:
    • holds a substantive visa expiring within the next 28 days; or
    • held a substantive visa which ceased within the last 28 days; and
  • do not qualify for any other kind of substantive visa.

Proof of inability to depart is generally understood to be a requirement under these criteria, and thus this option should not be used as a blanket means of visa extension. 

Certain Aged Care Workers

Pursuant to LIN (20/229), applicants may qualify where:

  • they are in Australia; and
  • are unable to depart Australia due to the pandemic; and
  • either:
    • holds a substantive visa prohibiting work in Australia; or
    • holds a substantive visa expiring within the next 90 days; or
    • held a substantive visa which ceased within the last 28 days; and
  • has received an offer of employment from a Commonwealth-funded aged care service.

Certain Critical Sector Workers

Pursuant to LIN (20/229), applicants may qualify where:

  • they are in Australia; and
  • are unable to depart Australia due to the pandemic; and
  • either:
    • hold a substantive visa expiring within the next 90 days; or
    • held a substantive visa which ceased within the last 28 days; and
  • is employed or has received an offer of employment in one of the following sectors:
    • aged care sector; or
    • agriculture sector; or
    • child care sector; or
    • disability care sector; or
    • food processing sector; or
    • health care sector; and
  • does not qualify for any other kind of substantive visa

This pathway is the broadest of the available arrangements. Note that inability to depart remains a criterion under these arrangements.

Seasonal Worker Program Participants

Pursuant to LIN (20/229), applicants may qualify where:

  • they hold a Subclass 403 visa in the Seasonal Worker Program stream that is:
    • expiring within the next 90 days; or
    • expired within the last 28 days; and
  • are employed or have been offered employment by an approved employer.

Note that these arrangements are only available to participants of the Seasonal Worker Program. This program permits citizens of East Timor, and the Pacific region to undertake seasonal employment with approved Australian employers, in specific industries, located in designated locations. 

Frequently Asked Questions – COVID Visa Lawyers

How long will my COVID visa take to process?

The Department of Home Affairs does not provide projected processing times for Subclass 408 visa applied for pursuant to the COVID-19 event. Between October and December of 2020, 8387 COVID-19 event applications were received. In the same period, 5767 visas were issued under these arrangements.

As such, it is estimated that most COVID-19 Subclass 408 applications are finalised within 4 months. This is of course based on a limited sample size and will fluctuate based on future demand and the individual complexity of each application.

My visa was refused or canceled, can I now apply for the COVID-19 Visa?

The COVID arrangements do not exempt applicants from the general Subclass 408 requirements. If you have been refused a visa, or have had your visa canceled whilst within Australia, you will likely not be able to make a valid application under the COVID arrangements. Applicants subject to a bar under Section 48 of the Migration Act 1958 will be prevented from applying for most subclasses of visa, unless first departing Australia. 

The pandemic is bad in my home country. Is this grounds for the COVID-19 Visa?

There is no concessional eligibility based on the pandemic situation in your home country. Unless you are an event response worker or Seasonal Worker Program participant, you are expected to return to your home country if able.

Further, most cohorts eligible under the COVID-19 visa concessions must not be eligible for an alternative visa subclass. 

It is the expectation of the Department of Home Affairs that migrants depart Australia if they do not qualify for a visa and are able to return home. There is no exception to this expectation merely due to the COVID health crisis in your country of citizenship.  

Can I work on the COVID-19 visa?

Generally speaking, the COVID-19 visa arrangements will permit work only if you apply as a critical sector worker. Persons applying merely due to inability to depart will generally not be permitted to work. 

How long will my visa be issued for, and how many can I have?

The Department of Home Affairs has indicated that critical workers will be issued their visa for up to 12 months, with other applicants receiving up to 3 months. Whilst there is no hard limit on the number of Subclass 408 visas that can be granted to you, you must ensure that you continue to meet the visa criteria with each consecutive application.

Invited Participant Stream

This stream allows up to 3 months stay if you have been invited to participate in a community-based event. This stream generally requires an invitation by an approved Austraian “Temporary Activity Sponsor.”

The event may include a range of social or cultural activities, including religious, sporting, academic and artistic activities. Only the participants who are contributing to the event are eligible to apply, and mere attendants should explore other visa options, such as Subclass 600 tourist visas. 

Sport Stream

This stream permits national-level sportspeople, namely players, coaches, instructors, judges and adjudicators, to participate in national-level competition and training with Australian athletes. It requires endorsement from a peak sporting body in Australia. The threshold in satisfying national-level competition is strict, thus organisations competing in sub-national competition should be directed to consider alternatives of subclasses 400 or 482.

The applicable criteria to elite players, coaches instructors or adjudicators include:

  • Applicant will take part in an Australian sporting organisation;
  • Applicant is invited by the said organisation;
  • There is a formal agreement between the parties to undertake a role for a definite period;
  • Applicant is endorsed by a national sporting body.

The applicable criteria to sports trainees include:

  • Applicant is to be trained by an Australian sporting organisation;
  • Applicant is a sportsperson or adjudicator competing at the national level, endorsed by a peak sports body or demonstrates potential to compete at a national level;
  • The sponsoring sporting organisation has an international reputation.

Religious Worker Stream

This stream is for qualified religious workers who are sponsored to perform full time religious work at a religious institution in Australia. Applicants must demonstrate that they have appropriate training, experience and qualifications to undertake the proposed religious work. There can be secondary applicants, and subclass 408 visas can be granted up to 2 years.

Those yet to undertake formal religious training are directed to pursue alternative visas, such as the Subclass 407 visa if seeking entry to Australia for training purposes.

Domestic Worker for Executives Stream  

This stream is exclusively for persons employed as domestic workers for the residences of senior executives of overseas organisations or foreign government agencies. This is a concession made by the Australian government, as domestic workers are generally not issued temporary residency visas.  

Only experienced domestic workers over the age of 18 are eligible to apply, and the visa can be granted for up to 2 years.

Superyacht Crew Stream  

Applicants may apply for this stream as crew members of a superyacht to stay in Australia for a period up to 12 months. To be eligible, the crew members must be at least 18 years old, and the captain, owner or operator must be a temporary activity sponsor.

A superyacht is defined as a high value luxury sailing ship or motor vessel which is:

  1. 24 metres or longer in length;
  2. Not carrying cargo; and
  3. Used for sport or pleasure.

Research Stream  

The stream is open to:

  • Accomplished academics invited to participate in a research project by an Australian tertiary or research institute; and
  • Students or recent graduates seeking to undertake a research activity at an Australian tertiary or research institution.

The eligible activities must be aimed at contributing to a research project or undertake research activities at request of an Australian tertiary or research institution.

It is important that the research project is related to the field of the applicant. Furthermore, there can be secondary applicants, and subclass 408 visas can be granted up to 2 years in this stream.

Staff Exchange Stream  

Where a reciprocal staff exchange program is in place between an Australian entity and a foreign entity, the foreign worker may be entitled to apply with his or her family members for a Subclass 408 visa to stay in Australia for up to 2 years. This stream is restricted to full time and skilled positions.

The legislative intention for Subclass 408 visas is to facilitate the exchange program, and is not to act as a substitute for the Subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage visa. 

Special Program Stream  

This stream permits applicants to participate in one of the 4 approved special programs:

  • School language assistants program, or “SLAP”
  • School to school interchange program, or “SSIP”
  • Approved cultural exchange program
  • Cultural enrichment or community benefit program with an approved organisation or organisations. 

This stream is aimed at activities which provide for cultural exchange or community benefit. The special program stream is not intended for activities primarily aimed at study, workplace-based training or employment, for which subclasses 500, 407 and 482 are better suited respectively.

What is a School to School Interchange Program?

Generally speaking, SSIP arrangements involve reciprocal arrangements between a school in Australia and an overseas school, whereby each may invite from the other a student, generally one transitioning from secondary school to tertiary education, to act as an assistant at the other institution for up to 12 months. Such arrangements may informally be known as a “gap year” by the participating institution.   

What is a School Language Assistant Program?

A SLAP permits a young overseas prospective teaching professional to remain in Australia to obtain initial experience in assisting qualified Australian language teachers in language and cultural matters. 

Participants are expected to possess less than a years experience and to merely support a full-time qualified Australian language teacher. 

Much like a SSIP, it is generally anticipated that this program runs for no more than 12 months in duration. 

Entertainment Stream  

This activity type is available to persons intending to undertake work within Australia’s entertainment industry. The entertainment channels can be film, television or live productions as a performer, production or support staff. This stream is further divided into a number of sub-streams, including:

  • Performing in film or television production subsidised by Government;
  • Performing in film or television production not subsidised by Government;
  • Performing in productions not related to film or television;
  • Production roles other than as a performer;
  • Support staff for profit;
  • Nonprofit engagements;
  • Documentary program or commercial for overseas market.

There can be secondary applicants, and subclass 408 visas can be granted up to 2 years in this stream.

It should be noted that journalists should consider subclasses 482 or 400 in the alternative, as Subclass 408 is usually deemed inappropriate under the Department’s guidelines.

Australian Government Endorsed Event Stream  

This stream allows individuals to come to Australia to participate in events which are endorsed by the Australian Government. The list of endorsed events is subject to constant changes, and will generally cover events of national importance, such as international sporting events.

In this stream, subclass 408 visas will usually be arranged by a government agency, or another national or international body involved with the relevant event.

The so-called “COVID visa” is a Subclass 408 visa applied under the Australian Government Endorsed Event stream.

Application Charges  

Subclass 408 visa application fees are as follows:

  • Base application charge: $310
  • Additional applicant charge for an applicant who is at least 18: $310
  • Additional applicant charge for an applicant who is under 18: $80

It is to be noted that no application fee needs to be paid by persons who are sponsored by certain government and non-profit organisations, or are to participate in particular government-endorsed events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic event. In other instances, a reduced concessional fee applies to persons who are sponsored by specified industry entities.

Visa Conditions

Due to the broad range of instances where the Subclass 408 is appropriate, the specific conditions applicable to each visa will depend on the circumstances of the applicant and the steam under which the visa was applied for. In some cases, these conditions can further vary between applications within the same stream. A summary of these conditions is outlined below. 

In relation to the main applicant, the following must be imposed:

8107: Approved employment only.

8303: The holder must not become involved in activities disruptive to, or violence threatening harm to, the Australian community or a group within the Australian community.

In relation to the main applicant who are entertainers, the following must be imposed:

8109: The holder must not change details of times and places of engagements specified in the application to be undertaken in Australia during the visa period, without the prior permission in writing of the Secretary.

In relation to the main applicant, the following may be imposed:

8106: The holder must engage in work in Australia only if the work is relevant to the conduct of the business, or performance of the tasks, specified in the visa application.

8114: The holder must not work in Australia otherwise than as a member of the crew of a superyacht.

8301: After entry to Australia, the holder must satisfy relevant public interest criteria before the visa ceases.

8501: The holder must maintain adequate arrangements for health insurance while the holder is in Australia.

8502: The holder of the visa must not enter Australia before the entry to Australia of a person specified in the visa.

8503: The holder will not, after entering Australia, be entitled to be granted a substantive visa, other than a protection visa, while the holder remains in Australia.

8516: The holder must continue to be a person who would satisfy the primary or secondary criteria, as the case requires, for the grant of the visa.

8525: The holder must leave Australia by a specified means of transport on a specified day or within a specified period.

8526: The holder must notify the Secretary in writing, not earlier than 7 days before the day the visa ceases to be in effect, and not later than that day, of the holder’s place of residence in Australia by posting the notification to the Central Office of Immigration in the Australian Capital Territory.

In relation to a secondary applicant, the following must be imposed:

8303: The holder must not become involved in activities disruptive to, or violence threatening harm to, the Australian community or a group within the Australian community.

In relation to a secondary applicant, the following may be imposed:

8106: The holder must engage in work in Australia only if the work is relevant to the conduct of the business, or performance of the tasks, specified in the visa application.

8301: After entry to Australia, the holder must satisfy relevant public interest criteria before the visa ceases.

8501: The holder must maintain adequate arrangements for health insurance while the holder is in Australia.

8502: The holder of the visa must not enter Australia before the entry to Australia of a person specified in the visa

8503: The holder will not, after entering Australia, be entitled to be granted a substantive visa, other than a protection visa, while the holder remains in Australia.

8516: The holder must continue to be a person who would satisfy the primary or secondary criteria, as the case requires, for the grant of the visa.

8522: The holder must leave Australia not later than the time of departure of the person who has satisfied the primary criteria and of whose family unit the holder is a member.

8525: The holder must leave Australia by a specified means of transport on a specified day or within a specified period.

8526: The holder must notify the Secretary in writing, not earlier than 7 days before the day the visa ceases to be in effect, and not later than that day, of the holder’s place of residence in Australia by posting the notification to the Central Office of Immigration in the Australian Capital Territory.

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