In what only can be considered good news, the maximum grant and stay period for a subclass 400: Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa will be extended from 3 to 6 months. The scheduled commencement for this change is due on 23 November 2014, as listed in the Federal Instrument.
The Explanatory Statement states that the change is to provide greater flexibility for the visa after consultation with more than 70 stakeholders from a range of industries and represents an important amendment from when this visa was introduced in March 2013.
This means that for those people needing to be in Australia for “non-ongoing” work—the relevant event, activity or work is likely to be completed within a continuous period of six months or less—this visa will become the most appropriate. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will generally take a dim view of any further application requiring another 400 visa past this new six month barrier when it becomes operative, as they are with the current three month requirement.
Previously, for workers that needed to be in Australia for a project longer than three months, they would have needed to go through the application process for a 457 visa including any business sponsorship and nomination requirements. This could prove very difficult, if not impossible, for self-employed workers, or workers needed in Australia for a multinational project who have limited English language skills. Very fast processing times for 400 visas is another benefit in comparison to 457 visas. Of course, there are still many other requirements that need to be met for a 400 visa to be granted.
An excellent example of the restraining nature of this visa was witnessed during last summer’s cricket tour by the UK. Some of the UK press, due to this specific visa restriction, had to depart Australia before the tour was finished, as reported by the ABC News here. Given how the tour panned out, it may have been conveniently merciful for the affected journalists to leave Australia than witness further humiliation.