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Temporary Workers


There are a number of visas available for people wishing to work in Australia.


Working in Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry

From 31 March 2015, new visa arrangements came into effect for non-citizens other than permanent residents intending to work in Australia's offshore oil and gas industry.

People intending to work on resources installations should hold either a Temporary Work (Subclass 457) visa or a Temporary Work (Subclass 400) visa.

People who are participating in, or supporting, an offshore resources activity from a ship or specialist vessel will be granted a Special Purpose Visa (SPV) by operation of law.

The SPV comes into effect when the non-citizen, on a vessel, enters the permit or licence area where the offshore resources activity will be undertaken, and the vessel has been reported to the Department of Immigration.  Because an SPV is granted by operation of law, workers engaged on these vessels are not required to lodge a visa application or pay a visa application charge for the SPV.

Non-citizens who enter Australia on their way to or from an offshore resources activity will need a visa other than the SPV.  For example, a fly-in fly-out worker will need a valid visa to travel through the Australian mainland on their way to or from a permit or licence area.

Visas that can be held to travel to or from an offshore resources activity include the Visitor (Subclass 600) visa,the ETA (Subclass 601) or the eVisitor (Subclass 651) visa. These visas do not allow the holder to work in Australia.


Temporary Work (Subclass 400) visa

The Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) (Subclass 400) visa (Subclass 400 visa) is for persons seeking short-term entry to Australia to undertake non-ongoing highly specialised work or participate in non-ongoing cultural or social activities at the invitation of an organisation lawfully operating in Australia.


The Subclass 400 visa has three streams:


  1. Highly Specialised Work stream –  for persons undertaking highly specialised work in Australia in a non-ongoing role (see below).  This stream does not allow for short-term employment in an ongoing position, nor for performance of generic skilled duties that can be delivered by available Australian skilled workers with similar experience and qualifications.
  2. Invited Participant stream – for persons participating in one or more specified non-ongoing events at the invitation of an organisation lawfully operating in Australia, provided the person is not being paid by an Australian party to participate.
  3. Australia’s Interest stream – to enable persons who do not satisfy the requirements of either the Highly Specialised Work or Invited Participant stream and there are ‘compelling circumstances’ affecting Australia’s interest.


“Non-ongoing” in relation to a person’s proposed participation in an event, or a person’s proposed engagement in an activity or work, means participation or engagement in the following:


  •  event, activity or work is likely to be completed within continuous period of 3 months or less;
  • person has not been given an expectation of staying in Australia for a purpose relating to the event, activity or work, after the end of that period and has not made arrangements to stay in Australia, for a purpose relating to the event, activity or work, after the end of that period.


Temporary Work (Subclass 401) visa

The Temporary Work (Long Stay Activity) (Subclass 401) visa is for people who want to come to Australia on a temporary basis under one of the four streams under this visa.

Exchange stream:  work in a skilled position under a reciprocal staff exchange arrangement to: 

  • give participants an opportunity to experience another culture 
  • enhance international relations 
  • broaden participants’ experience and knowledge.

Sport stream: to improve the quality of sport in Australia through participation in high-level competition with Australian residents to: 

  • participate in a specific event or series of events as an individual or as part of a team or its support staff 
  • play, coach or instruct for an Australian sporting team or organisation under contractual arrangements 
  • judge or adjudicate a sporting competition or show. 

Religious Worker stream: to be a full-time religious worker, serving the religious objectives of a religious institution in Australia. 

Domestic Worker (Executive) stream: to work full time in the household of certain senior foreign executives. 

This is a temporary visa.  Applicants can be in or outside Australia when they apply for this visa.

Before applicants can apply for this visa:

  • an organisation must become an approved sponsor 
  • an approved sponsor must nominate them for a particular position
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