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My employer rushed me out here on short notice so I'm currently in Australia on a 3 month ETA Business Visa (Subclass 601). I'm wondering if anyone has any idea if I'm using the right visa as I'm not employed by an Australian company - i.e., I don't get paid by directly by the company I'm consulting for, they pay my overseas company, who pay me my normal salary.

I may have to come out here a few more times this year and don't want to get in trouble with border control if I re-enter after a short time in my home country or in another country (two weeks).

My employer is going to get in touch with an immigration specialist soon hopefully, but in the mean time I wanted to find out about other people's opinions.

  • 1
    Why are people marking this for expats? It's clearly about short-term trqavel, even if work related. – CMaster Feb 9 '16 at 21:33
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No, the ETA subclass 601 is not the right visa for this purpose. To quote the Department of Border Protection and Immigration website:

Business visitor activities include:

  • making general business or employment enquiries
  • investigating, negotiating, signing or reviewing a business contract
  • activities carried out as part of an official government-to-government visit
  • participating in conferences, trade fairs or seminars, as long as you are not being paid by the organisers for your participation.

Business activities do not include short-term work. If you want to work in Australia, you can apply for a Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa (Subclass 400).

(Emphasis mine) Now some anecdotal evidence (see the answer by @pkaeding) suggests you can get away with this visa anyway. Enforcement of these things often varies by nation enforcing, and the ethnicity and class of the visitor (white people in expensive suits more likley to be waved through). However I know that in the UK trying to do this could cause you a lot of trouble, and that in the US sometimes you might get waved through with the answer "business", sometimes you might get asked more questions at the border, and then turned around.

If we look at the page for the aforementioned subclass 400:

​The Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa (subclass 400) is a temporary visa that lets you enter Australia to:

  • do short-term, highly specialised, non-ongoing work
  • participate in an event or events on a non-ongoing basis at the invitation of an Australian organisation.
  • in limited circumstances, participate in an activity or work relating to Australia’s interests.

Generally you can stay in Australia for up to three months where required, but depending on your work or activity a longer period of up to six months may be allowed in limited circumstances.

Which sounds like exactly what you want. The wording of the site implies its not too difficult to get, but who knows.

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Assuming you're actively working as opposed to (say) sitting in meetings or conducting negotiations, the answer is no, you're not.

One of the people I work with is in a situation extremely similar to yours -- visiting for 3 months, working but paid by overseas employer -- and our company's lawyers advised him that an ETA is insufficient, and they should apply for a Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa (subclass 400). The application is considerably less onerous than the 457 Long Stay visa, and while processing times are usually quoted as one month plus, but in practice it was granted in under a week. (Your mileage may vary, of course.)

The main catch of the 400 is that it's intended for stays of under 3 months, with a maximum of 6 months if you have a good justification. If you're planning on returning in the future to work again, the 457 may be the better option.

  • Hah. almost simultaneous same answers. – CMaster Feb 9 '16 at 9:48
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NOTE: It seems that I was mistaken, and you should read the comments below, and @CMaster's answer for more information. I'll leave this post up in the hope that it is informative to others.

I've been to Australia a couple of times under similar circumstances, and I used the Electronic Travel Authority Visa. It was very easy, and as far as I know, it is the ideal visa for short stays (up to 3 months at a time) where you are not working for an Australian company (it is okay to go for business purposes, as long as you are being paid by your company back home).

  • This answer is wrong. (Well I mean, the part about you doing it obviously isn't. THe part about it being the right visa is). To quote the very site you link: "Business activities do not include short-term work. If you want to work in Australia, you can apply for a Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa (Subclass 400)." – CMaster Feb 9 '16 at 9:33
  • I think the important thing is that I was not really 'working' in Australia, in that I was not performing work for an Australian company, and I was not being paid in Australia. I was there on business, but not for work, which sounds like the question that is being asked here.. – pkaeding Feb 9 '16 at 19:30
  • If you were acting as a consultant you were, in the eyes of the Australian immigration service, working. Who is paying you is not important. The only activities allowed on the eTA are listed above - negotiating contracts, making general enquiries, manning a trade fair or taking part in intergovermental meetings. We've seen numerous times on this site Qs from people who "was sure it was OK because they were being paid back home" getting it to trouble with immigration authorities in various countries. – CMaster Feb 9 '16 at 19:34

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