Recent announcements on the Temporary Work (International Relations) (subclass 403) visa have confirmed that approximately 1,000 workers are currently in Australia under the Pacific Labour Scheme according to official Government statistics. The Federal Government has affirmed an extension of this visa subclass for an additional 12 months to ensure the continuation of essential services in Australia amidst the country’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The usual duration of stay for a subclass 403 visa in this particular stream is up to 9 months, however, applicants can now expect a grant period of almost 2 years due to the recent extension permitted by the Australian Government in efforts to facilitate our economic recovery. This initiative was designed to protect Australia’s seasonal work force and those contributing to the production of essential goods and services. Such measures will allow Australian growers and food supply chains to continue operating and meet the increased demand for fresh crops and produce, providing much needed relief for those in this industry.
The Seasonal Worker Programme enables applicants to assist Australia employers within the agriculture and accommodation industries to fill position that cannot otherwise be filled through the local labour force. This provides Australia with a reliable and revolving seasonal workforce designed to resolve labour shortages in critical sectors and meet seasonal demand. The recent amendments to this Programme will ensure that such sectors have the capacity and the resources necessary to meet agricultural demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite the 12-month extension, new applicants for this stream be outside of Australia at the time of application and decision and must be a citizen of and resident in a specified nation. These nations include:
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
Applicants under the Seasonal Worker Programme must continue to meet the criteria for this visa as would normally be required. This includes maintaining adequate arrangements for health insurance and demonstrating that you possess the financial capacity to support yourself during the period of intended stay in Australia.
The minimum age to apply is 21 assessed at the time of application and applicants must be invited by an Australia employer who is an approved Temporary Activities Sponsor. This means that the employer is an Australian organisation lawfully operating in Australia with the capacity to comply with their sponsorship obligations.
To establish an agreed sponsorship, applicants must provide a written letter of invitation from the sponsor confirming their agreement to sponsor the applicant for the position. This must be on the employer’s official company letterhead and include the following details:
- the name, date of birth and country of citizen of the visa applicant
- the location(s) of work
- intended date of arrival and departure
- period of total placement
- nominated industry
- accommodation arrangements
- any proposed training to be undertaken; and
- any wage/salary that will be paid.
Once granted, applicants must continue to be employed by the sponsor, work only in the industry covered by the visa, not work for themselves or an employer other than the approved sponsor and comply with all visa conditions and Australian laws. A subclass 403 visa under the Seasonal Worker Programme will be subject to a ‘no further stay’ condition, meaning the visa holder, after entering Australia, will not be granted a substantive visa other than a protection visa while they remain in Australia.
In effect, this prevents a subclass 403 holder from applying for another substantive visa while in Australia. This condition can be waived in certain circumstances so if you are currently in this position on a subclass 403 visa in the Seasonal Worker Program, it is recommended that you contact one of our registered migration agents to assist you in this process.
The visa will be granted with multiple entry allowing the visa holder to travel outside of Australia and return during the period of seasonal work. To confirm the conditions and work rights of your visa, you should conduct a VEVO search using the Department of Home Affairs website. The Seasonal Worker Program does not permit the inclusion of secondary applicants meaning no additional family members may be added to this application.
For more information on the Seasonal Worker Programme stream of the subclass 403 visa, please contact No Borders Migration on 07 3876 4000 or at [email protected].