A basic outline of the Visiting Academic Visa

Publish Date: Oct 01, 2012

The Visiting Academic Visa (subclass 419) is for overseas professional academics to temporarily visit Australia. The purpose of the visit must be to observe or participate in a research project at an Australian tertiary or research institution that nominates, and sponsors the visiting academic.

The Visiting Academic Visa is quite onerous on the sponsor institution and the process can take up to three years, with the obligations associated with the visa lasting up to five years – which in certain circumstances, long after the academic has left the country.

Who is a ‘professional academic’ for the purposes of the Visa?

A professional academic under the terms of the visa cannot be an Australian, and must also have a significant record of achievement in their chosen field. Furthermore, they must not be involved in any teaching or lecturing in Australia, or receive any remuneration other than living and travel expenses.

How to become a Visiting Academic Sponsor

The Australian tertiary or research institution must apply to be an approved Visiting Academic Sponsor in order to be able to invite overseas academics. Part of the process is to nominate the position to be filled and whom to fill it.

To be approved as a Visiting Academic Sponsor, the organisation must be lawfully established and operating within Australia, while also having a good business record. An institution can include a body corporate or unincorporated body (other than an individual or a sole trader).

The obligations

The organisation must cooperate with the department’s monitoring requirements, and meet costs and other obligations as part of the program. 

This includes but not limited to:

  • Cooperate with inspectors: This obligation ends five years after the day on which the approved sponsorship ceases.
  • Keep and report records: This obligation ends two years after the approved sponsorship ceases, and there are no longer any sponsored applicants. The sponsor must provide certain information upon the occurrence of specific events (this will differ according to the class of sponsor to which the applicant belongs). The required information must be provided by registered post or email within 10 working days of the event occurring.
  • Not recover certain costs: The sponsor must not recover, or seek to recover, from the sponsored applicant, all or part of the costs (including migration agent or lawyer costs).
  • Pay costs incurred by the Commonwealth to locate and remove an unlawful non-citizen: A request must be made by written notice. The sponsor is liable to pay the difference between the actual costs incurred by the Commonwealth (up to a maximum of $10,000) and any amount already paid under the obligation. The sponsor must pay travel costs to enable the applicant to leave Australia. The obligation begins the day the sponsored applicant becomes an unlawful non-citizen, and ends five years after the person leaves the country. However, the sponsor is only liable for costs up to the time the person leaves Australia.

Possible sanctions

If the sponsor fails to satisfy a sponsorship obligation, one or more of the following actions may be taken:

  • banning the organisation from sponsoring more people or making future applications;
  • apply to a court for a civil penalty order of up to $33,000 for a corporation, and $6600 for each individual failing to conform to the requirements; or
  • issue an infringement notice of up to $6600 for a body corporate and $1320 for each individual failing to conform to the requirements.

Due to the stringent obligations, sanctions and future ramifications associated with the Visa, it is highly recommended that legal advice is sought to ensure all of the requirements of the sponsorship program are met.

Let us help you. Phone: +61 2 8268 4000 or Book a conference