Do you really need a work visa to Australia? Or are you just undertaking "Business Visitor Activities"? - Hannan Tew Immigration Lawyers (2023)

Business VisitorTSSVisitor

By Mihan Hannan15 February, 2019May 31st, 2023No Comments7 min read

With the complexity of obtaining work authorisation in Australia, many businesses often look to a variety of temporary visas which permit “business visitor activities” (but not work authorisation) to send foreign employees into Australia. These visas are generally simple to prepare and fast to process, and includes the:

Two key questions arise from this:

  1. What are the business visitor activities; and
  2. If you are a business visitor, which visa is appropriate for you?

1. Business Visitor Activities

The term business visitor activity is defined in regulation 1.03 of the Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) (Regulations) to include:

  • making general business or employment enquiries;
  • investigating, negotiating, entering into or reviewing a business contract;
  • activities relating to official government to government visits; and
  • participation in a conference, trade fair or seminar unless there is payment for participation.

This definition expressly excludes:

(Video) Australia work visa types

  • working for or supplying services to an organisation or person in Australia; and
  • supplying services or direct selling goods to the public (retail).

Department policy summarises the above by noting that: “by way of example, an executive board member may attend a meeting on a business visitor visa provided they do not undertake work duties on behalf of an Australian business.” Right, fair enough.

Ok, so what do the permissible activities actually mean?

Fortunately, Department policy provides more guidance on the actual elements of the permissible activities.

(a) Making general business or employment enquiries

In relation to general business or employment the activity is restricted to making inquiries.

These include activities such as:

  • identifying new business or employment opportunities;
  • purchasing goods from Australia;
  • establishing contact with Australian based people or organisations involved in the prospective employment or business;
  • attending business meetings including at an affiliated business in Australia but not if the visa holder is providing services to that business;
  • fact finding;
  • identifying new business or employment opportunities;
  • visiting an Australian company that provides goods or services to their visitor’s business offshore to conduct quality assurance activities or ensure that certain required standards are met; and
  • attending a job interview.

That is, any of those specific business enquiries, or a range of those enquiries are expressly permitted by Department policy without work authorisation. It would be useful for individuals seeking to establish business interests in Australia.

(b) Contract related activities

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Investigating, negotiating, entering into, or reviewing a business contract means that the activity needs to be in relation to an actual or prospective contract relating to business rather than personal matters.

Contract related activities include:

  • investigating or negotiating business contracts or trade agreements;
  • signing contracts for sale of goods or services;
  • review a contractual arrangement;
  • providing legal advice on behalf of the overseas company involved in business contract negotiations relating to the contract and not providing legal advice/services to the general public or a business based in Australia;
  • buying real estate in Australia to add to a business investment portfolio;
  • visiting an Australian company that produces goods for their business to conduct quality assurance activities or ensure that certain required standards are met (contractual review); and
  • a lawyer providing legal advice related to a contract to a person not based in Australia.

Again, these explicitly permitted activities support the Department’s position that those who are seeking to establish work in Australia (through contracts in this instance) do not require work authorisation.

(c) Official government visits

In relation to government to government visits, activities that are part of the official visit and do not involve activities specified in below are acceptable.

Examples include attending:

  • government to government meetings;
  • international government conferences; and
  • government-employed representatives undertaking inspections for the purpose of meeting bilateral obligations.

Visits may be at all levels of government but must involve a government representative overseas visiting a government representative in Australia and the visit must be recognised by their respective government agencies.

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(d) Conferences, trade fairs and seminars

Under Department policy, participation in conferences, trade fairs and seminars on an unpaid basis is permitted under the definition.

However, if the activity at a trade fair for example involved the sale of goods direct to the general public, the that activitywould be prohibited under the expressly excluded activities.

Further, if a participant was paid by the organiser of a conference, trade fair or seminar to attend or appear then this would constitute undertaking work or supplying services and is not permitted under the definition of business visitor activity. Individuals wishing to undertake this type of paid activity should apply for a Subclass 400Short Stay Activity visa.

Which activities are clearly not business visitor activities?

The following activities are expressly excluded in the definition of a business visitor activity:

  • from working for or supplying services to an organisation or person in Australia
  • from supplying services or direct selling goods to the public (retail) or
  • from entering the Australian labour market or the retail trade.

Althoughthe sale of goods or services to business (that is, wholesale) is permitted as a business enquiry or contract related activity, the sale of goods and services directly to the Australian public is also prohibited under the exclusions in the definition. The practical operation is that it would prevent a company representative at a car show, for example, from participating in the sale of any of their company’s vehicles to a member of the public. They are permitted to sell their product to a company or organisation on a trade basis. They are also allowed to provide general information about the product to a company representative or a member of the public making inquiries.

In general, examples of activities that are not permitted are:

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  • engaging in employment in Australia;
  • performing highly specialised work even if there is a contractual arrangement; the visa holder cannot undertake work activities thatthe visa does not allow;
  • making direct sales or supplying services to the general public;
  • providing training, system development, and/or post-sale implementation/support/maintenance;
  • delivering a presentation at a conference (or series of conferences) as part of a pre-negotiated contract that provides a material benefit to the visitor such as a professional motivation speaker;
  • retail activities– making direct sales of goods or services to the Australian general public. This includes selling goods at a trade fair to the public;
  • domestic staff (for example, nanny) wanting to accompany their employer on a holiday to Australia to undertake their normal household duties;
  • an artist selling paintingsthat are being promoted at a local gallery; and
  • an overseas lawyer participating in contract negotiations and providing unrelated legal advice (for example, regarding a criminal matter) to a client – the first part is considered a business visitor activity,whereas the second part is work.

2. Who is eligible for which visa?

If you are an individual who will only be undertaking business visitor activities in Australia, which visa is most appropriate for you? The eligibility regarding the short-term non-work visas depend on the country of passport. The below table provides a general summary:

ETA (Subclass 601)

(Usually processed < 1 day | Apply through here)

eVisitor (Subclass 651)

(Usually processed < 1 day | Apply through Immi Account)

Visitor (Subclass 600)

(Usually processed within 1-2 months | Apply through Immi Account)




Brunei – Darussalam





Germany Greece

Hong Kong (SAR PRC)












Republic of San Marino


South Korea




The Netherlands

United Kingdom – British Citizen

United Kingdom – British National (Overseas)

United States

Vaticvan City







Czech Republic

















The Netherlands





Republic of San Marino

Slovak Republic





United Kingdom – British Citizen

Vatican City

All other nationalities

Any questions?

If you need to travel to Australia for business, or believe you might need work authorisation, speak to us in the first instance to put your mind at ease. A quick chat early on might lead to a much more cost effective and time saving choice, or protect you from being detained in Australia for work without proper authorisation. Contact us by email at [emailprotected] or phone +61 3 9016 0484 to obtain further guidance.

(Video) 10 Things You Need to Know About The Australia 457 Visa - Work Visa Lawyers


Do I need a visa for a business trip to Australia? ›

Americans traveling to Australia for business and/or leisure must hold a valid U.S. passport and either a visa or an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA).

Can I look for a job in Australia with a tourist visa? ›

Candidates with a tourist visas cannot work in Australia. Anyone who doesn't follow the conditions and gets caught faces severe consequences. However, in some situations, a visitor visa holder cannot extend or convert his/her visa to another type of visa, whether student, work, or another visa subclass.

Who can work in Australia without a visa? ›

​Only Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand citizens holding Special Category (subclass 444) visas have no conditions placed on working in Australia. Other visas carry conditions on working such as Student and Working Holiday Maker visas.

Can you go to Australia on a tourist visa while waiting for your working visa? ›

​​​​​If you are waiting for the decision on a substantive or permanent visa and want to see family or holiday, you may be able to apply for another visa to enter Australia. If granted a visa, you must comply with all visa conditions and Australian laws.

Do US citizens need visa to visit Australia? ›

You must have a valid U.S. passport and a visa or an approved Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) to enter Australia. Most U.S. passport holders traveling to Australia for tourism or business purposes for less than 90 days can obtain an ETA.

What the difference between business and tourist visa to Australia? ›

Tourism includes holidays, recreation and visiting family and/or friends. It is valid for 1 year for multiple journeys of up to 3 months. Business ETA – The Business ETA applies to business purposes only. Business purposes may include attending a conference, negotiation or an exploratory business visit.

What is the easiest way to get a work visa in Australia? ›

You can apply for most visas online on the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website via ImmiAccount. If your visa requires an official invitation to apply, you can submit an EOI on SkillSelect.

Can I apply for a work visa in Australia without a job? ›

You don't need to have a Job offer for this Visa. You can apply with your documents, degree, and if you have any experience. A job offer or offer letter is not necessary to apply for a 476 visa. Once you arrive in Australia you can start searching for Jobs.

How much bank balance is required for Australia Tourist Visa? ›

To apply for an Australia Visitor Visa, you need to prove that you can fund your travel to and from Australia, along with accommodation. Generally, you will need to include bank statements for the past 3 months with a closing balance of at least $5,000 AUD per applicant.

Can US citizens work in Australia? ›

The Working Holiday Visa is a temporary visa available to U.S. citizens aged 18 to 30, and allows them to work and travel in Australia for up to 12 months. The Skilled Work Visa is a visa for U.S. citizens who have been sponsored by an Australian employer, and allows them to work and live in Australia permanently.

How long can you stay in Australia without a work visa? ›

Stay in Australia for up to three months where required, and in limited or exceptional circumstances, up to six months.

How to get a job in Australia from USA? ›

Here's how to get started on making your dream of living and working in Australia as an American a reality:
  1. Research the culture and cost of living. ...
  2. Determine what kind of visa you'll need. ...
  3. Look for potential employers in Australia. ...
  4. Apply for jobs that are a good fit. ...
  5. Prepare as much as possible for the move.
Jan 31, 2023

How long does an Australian working visa take to come through? ›

Most applications will be processed within 14 days. Check the latest processing times for the Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) and the Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) on the Home Affairs website. Can I leave and re-enter Australia during a working holiday? Yes.

How long does it take for Australia visa to be approved? ›

Getting your visa can take up to 24 hours, so you should give the application process at least a day to be completed. We recommend applying at least a couple of days before your intended travel date to avoid issues. Remember, visitors are not allowed to apply for their ETA from Australia.

How long does it take to get a working Tourist Visa Australia? ›

How long does it take to process an Australian Working Holiday Visa? Applications are typically processed within 14 – 40 days. Exactly how much time your application will take depends on a number of factors – such as your personal circumstances and the time of year you apply (summer is the busiest time of year).

How hard is it for an American to move to Australia? ›

Immigrant acceptance

Many Americans choose to move to Australia because it's one of the most welcoming countries to immigrants. Not only are the Australian people incredibly friendly, but the country offers an extensive range of visa options, with most allowing access to resident visas.

How much does an Australian visa cost? ›

How Much Does an Australia Visa Cost?
Visa TypeFee (in AUD)Fee if you apply from within Australia (in AUD)
Tourist Visa- subclass 600 (Frequent traveller stream not included)145370
Frequent Traveller Stream- subclass 6001,085N/A
Medical Treatment Visa-subclass 602Free of charge320
Transit Visa-subclass 771Free of chargeN/A
45 more rows

How much money do I need to enter Australia? ›

It is not a secret that some travellers who don't have $5000 in cash simply get their parents or a friend to transfer funds temporarily, for the purposes of meeting the visa application requirements, before transferring it back.

What is a business visa versus work visa? ›

Business visas generally only allow holders to participate in tasks that are not considered work or gainful employment, while work permits grant holders the ability to perform services that would be considered productive work in the host location.

How much does it cost to get a business visa for Australia? ›

Australia visa fees: AUD 150 or approx. INR 8000 for each applicant.

Which visitor visa is best for Australia? ›

Electronic Travel Authority visa (subclass 601)

This visa allows you to visit Australia as many times as you want, for up to a year, and stay for three months each visit. This visa is available to passport holders from a number of countries and regions, who live outside Australia.

Is it tough to get work visa in Australia? ›

If you want to work in Australia, however, you'll need to apply for and be granted a working visa before you can even consider moving down under. Although it's not an overly difficult process, there are a lot of steps you have to follow in order to apply for a working visa.

What is the most common work visa in Australia? ›

There are several types of Australian work visas available, but the most popular work visas include the following:
  • Global Talent Visa- subclass 858. ...
  • Employer Nomination Scheme Visa- subclass 186. ...
  • Permanent Skilled Regional Visa- subclass 191. ...
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Visa- subclass 187.

Is it hard to get visa for Australia? ›

Yes, it is easy to get an Australian tourist visa. But you have to meet the necessary requirements. What is the validity of the Australia tourist visa? The validity of the Australia tourist visa is one year (maximum).

Can an American move to Australia without job? ›

Family Sponsorship Visa

Under this program, you can move to Australia without a job if you have a family member who is a permanent resident or Australian citizen. You can use this option if your spouse, sibling, parent, or other close relative is willing to sponsor your PR visa.

Do I get a job or visa first for Australia? ›

To seek employment in Australia, you must apply for and get a valid Australian work visa that has work rights. You can get a temporary or permanent skilled visa. Once you get the visa, Australian laws will protect you at the workplace, and you can enjoy basic rights.

Can you move to Australia with no job? ›

Can I still immigrate to Australia if I don't have a skilled occupation or an occupation that is in demand? The answer is yes! This post will discuss the possibilities and paths for these two profiles: No academic qualification/ work experience.

What is proof of sufficient funds for visa Australia? ›

There are two options for meeting this requirement: Provide bank statements, evidence of grants or scholarships.

How much money do you need to prove for Australian visa? ›

You should have copies of your bank account showing you have adequate funds to support yourself (usually the equivalent of AUD $5000), as well as a return air ticket or extra funds to be able to pay for your journey home.

How long does it take to get Australia 600 visa? ›

600 Visa Processing Times
Stream75% of applications processed90% of applications processed
Tourist20 days33 days
Business Visitor9 days20 days
Frequent Traveller5 days18 days
Sponsored Family50 days70 days
1 more row

Is living in USA better than Australia? ›

Australia and the USA are both developed countries with great living standards. Both have a high-quality education system and career opportunities. Australia provides the facility of Medicare for medical services. While the USA also offers healthcare services but at high costs.

Can a retired US citizen move to Australia? ›

​​​Retirement visa pathway. The Australian Government has created a pathway to permanent residency for eligible retirees. This pathway provides options to long-term residents who have contributed to, and are well established in, the community.

How expensive is Australia compared to the US? ›

But how expensive is it? Australia currently has the 12th highest cost of living in the world, with the USA and UK well behind at 21 and 23rd place respectively. The overall cost of living in Australia is 9% higher than the USA, but 10% cheaper than London.

What is the best way to get a job in Australia? ›

How to find a job in Australia
  1. Research your market. Some roles and skills are in high demand in Australia, and others less so. ...
  2. Sort out your visa. ...
  3. Speak the lingo and learn about the culture. ...
  4. Tailor your resume and cover letter. ...
  5. Know your technology. ...
  6. Be prepared to take a step back. ...
  7. Understand how to apply.

What is the cost of living in Australia? ›

Summary of cost of living in Australia: A family of four estimated monthly costs are 3,959.8$ (5,782.5A$) without rent. A single person estimated monthly costs are 1,119.7$ (1,635.1A$) without rent. Cost of living in Australia is, on average, 4.0% higher than in United States.

Can I just apply for a job in Australia? ›

If you'd like to work in Australia you'll need the appropriate visa. As previously mentioned those aged between 18 and 30 can get a temporary visa called the Working Holiday visa, which allows you to travel and work in the country for up to two years.

Why does Australian visa take so long? ›

Why Are Australian Visas Taking So Long? There are many reasons why your visa might take longer than the expected processing time: Increased visa application volume: A spike in the number of visa applications can lead to longer processing times, as there may be a backlog of applications.

What do I need to travel to Australia for business? ›

Business visitor documents
  • an invitation from a host organisation.
  • conference registration details.
  • a letter from your employer stating why you are visiting.
  • your plans for your stay and details of your Australian business contacts.
  • proof of your current employment and professional qualifications.
Mar 7, 2023

Do you need a visa to travel for business? ›

A foreign national traveling to the United States to conduct temporary business needs a visitor visa (B-1) unless qualifying for entry under the Visa Waiver Program.

Are business visitors allowed Australia? ›

Business people intending to travel to Australia for a short business visit (for example, going to a conference, negotiation or meeting) but not intending to work in Australia, can apply for the Business Visitor stream of the Visitor visa (subclass 600).

How much do you need for a business visa in Australia? ›

must have at least 3 million business turnover for at least 2 years out of the last 4 years. willing to invest a minimum of 1.5 million AUD (higher investment amount required for popular states like NSW and VIC)

How long does it take to get a business visa for Australia? ›

You can submit the Australia Business Visa online, and the processing time is approximately 10 – 15 days.

How much money do you need to enter Australia? ›

It is not a secret that some travellers who don't have $5000 in cash simply get their parents or a friend to transfer funds temporarily, for the purposes of meeting the visa application requirements, before transferring it back.

What documents do I need for work and travel Australia? ›

The Working Holiday visa application requires identity documents such as your passport and financial evidence that proves you have the funds to stay in Australia, usually AUD $5,000. You'll need to meet certain health and character requirements, and you may also be asked to provide a police certificate.

What is the difference between a work visa and a business visa? ›

Business visas generally only allow holders to participate in tasks that are not considered work or gainful employment, while work permits grant holders the ability to perform services that would be considered productive work in the host location.

What is the difference between business and visit visa? ›

In general, 'tourist' visas are issued specifically for the purpose of travel for pleasure, while a 'business' visa generally permits a traveler to engage in normal business-related activities.

What is the difference between business visa and visit visa? ›

A tourist visa is issued for the purpose of visiting a country for leisure or sightseeing activities. They allow the visa holder to stay in the country for a limited period. Business visas on the other hand are issued to help travelers engage in business related activities. They too have a limited validity.

How long can you stay in Australia as a visitor? ›

The Visitor visa allows you to visit Australia, either for tourism or business purposes. It is open to all nationalities. Generally, a period of stay of up to three months is granted, but up to 12 months may be granted in certain circumstances.

What is the benefit of visitor visa in Australia? ›

With this visa you can stay in Australia for up to 3, 6, or 12 months. Usually, you're granted a permitted stay of 3 months. The Australia Visitor Visa will be digitally linked to your passport. We recommend travelers apply at least four months before their intended trip to Australia.

What is a business visitor visa? ›

B-1 Visitors for “Business”

The B-1 visa permits persons to come to the U.S. for short-term, temporary professional activities related to their employment abroad, for example: consulting with peers. participating in conferences or seminars.

What is golden visa Australia? ›

Australia's immigration system is objective and merit-based with predictable outcomes. Permanent residents must live in the country for at least two years in a five-year period or demonstrate significant ties in Australia to maintain their residence status (also known as the Australia golden visa).

How do I get a work visa for Australia? ›

Steps to apply for an Australia Work Visa
  1. Step 1: Get your Australia Skills Assessment.
  2. Step 2: Check your eligibility through Australia Immigration Points Calculator.
  3. Step 3: Choose the type of Australia Work visa.
  4. Step 4: Arrange the checklist of requirements and apply for the Australia Work visa.

How long can you stay in Australia on a business visa? ›

We can grant for up to 6 months (depending on the circumstances). Generally, for a stay period longer than 3 months, a strong business case must be provided with the application. You can't apply for this visa in Australia or stay longer by extending this visa.


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