Serve, labour and sponsor - Labour Agreement and Service Sellers temporary visas

Publish Date: Jul 16, 2012

Skilled overseas workers can be temporarily employed in Australia via sponsorship through a labour agreement or service seller visa. Both visas have certain conditions and requirements that must be fulfilled in order for a person to be able to work and live in the country which this piece will cover.

Skilled Workers Temporary visas

Holders of skilled temporary visas are able to:

  • bring any eligible secondary applications (such as a spouse or child) who are allowed to work and study in Australia;
  • exit and re-enter Australia without limitation.

However, holders of skilled temporary visas must adhere to the following conditions:

  • the person must not cease employment for more than 28 consecutive days, otherwise their visa will be terminated; and
  • the person must work in the occupation for which they were nominated and for the sponsor (however exemptions may apply).

Labour agreements

Labour agreements are formal arrangements between the Commonwealth and an Australian industry group or employer to recruit a specified number of skilled workers on a temporary basis over a number of years.

There are a number of requirements that must be fulfilled in obtaining a Labour Agreement and is done as follows:

  • an employer who is an Australian business or Australian Government agency must request access to a Labour Agreement and negotiates to employ overseas workers;
  • the Australian Government, represented by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship must assess and approve the agreement; and
  • employees must apply for a visa.

Labour agreements are generally effective for two to three years and the temporary visa is valid for stay in Australia and travel for between three months and four years. Additionally, temporary visas can be used for jobs that are not on the list of approved occupations that are attached to other visas – such as the subclass 457 visa or occupations that are not covered under the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).

Employees under Labour Agreements must be under 45 years of age at the time of the visa application, or alternatively, the employer must submit a request for waiver to the department.

Additionally, employees subject to Labour Agreements can:

  • only renew their visa if there is an existing Labour Agreement in place. A new nomination and visa application will also be required; and
  • can apply for another type of substantive visa if the employer ceases their employment.

Note: If an employee wishes to change employers, a new sponsorship or nomination and visa application will be required.

Service sellers

The service sellers visa is available for representatives of overseas suppliers of services who are negotiating, or entering into agreements to supply their services in Australia under the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS). The requirements for the service sellers visa are:

  • the overseas service supplier must prove it is actively engaged in business in Australia, through business activity plans or expanding their trade into Australia;
  • the service seller must propose how it will represent the supplier in Australia; and
  • the service seller must propose how they will be supporting themselves and any applicable dependents during their stay in Australia.

The service sellers visa also has a number of restrictions attached and is as follows:

  • the person can stay in Australia between 6-12 months;
  • the person can only sell or negotiate for services, not products;
  • the person does not need sponsorship or nomination;
  • the person must not be employed by a company based in Australia;
  • the person must be financially supported by the overseas company for their entire stay in Australia; and
  • the person must apply for a new visa if a renewal or change in employer occurs.

It is recommended that you speak to an immigration or employment lawyer to ensure that the correct visa is granted so you can avoid the risk of arriving in a foreign country, or for employers, sponsoring an overseas worker and realising the sponsorship is invalid and the worker’s status is illegal.

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