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Special Program visa (subclass 416) for the Seasonal Worker Program

Features

This visa aims to enhance international relations and cultural exchange by allowing persons to share cultural, social experiences, knowledge and skills in the Australian community through special programs of seasonal work.​

In addition to the Seasonal Worker Program, the Special Program visa (subclass 416) has another stream called Special programs.​

Requirements

You can apply for this visa if you have been invited by an approved Special Program sponsor to participate in the Seasonal Worker Program.

About this visa

The Special Program visa (subclass 416) is a temporary visa that allows you to participate in the Seasonal Worker Program.

You must be invited to participate in the program by an approved special program sponsor.

You must be outside Australia when you apply for the visa and to be granted the visa to participate in the program.

What this visa lets you do

Under the Seasonal Worker Program this visa lets you:

  • work in Australia usually for 14 weeks to six months (you cannot bring your family)
  • stay in Australia usually for up to seven months (depending on your work placement)
  • enter and leave Australia while your visa is valid
  • work for your sponsor:
    • anywhere in Australia if you work in horticulture
    • in limited locations in tourism (accommodation), sugar cane farming, cotton farming or aquaculture.

Before you apply

To participate in the Seasonal Worker Program, you must be recruited under the rules of your government and its agencies. You must also be invited by an approved special program sponsor.

Your government’s officials or your sponsor can help you with your visa application. Relevant government agencies are:

  • Timor-Leste: Secretariat of State of Vocational Training and Employment (SEFOPE)
  • Kiribati: Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Development (MLHRD)
  • Nauru: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Papua New Guinea: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade—PNG Seasonal Workers Taskforce (PNGSWT)
  • Samoa: Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet—Seasonal Worker Unit
  • Solomon Islands: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade—Labour Mobility Unit
  • Tonga: Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Tuvalu: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Tourism, Environment and Labor
  • Vanuatu: Vanuatu Department of Labour (DOL).

Your passport

You must hold a valid passport from an eligible country to apply for this visa. Your passport should also be valid for the entire period of your intended stay in Australia. If you plan to get a new passport, you should do so before applying for your visa. If you get a new passport after your visa has been granted, give the details of your new passport to one of our offices.

You can give us the information by email or by faxing a copy of the biodata or photo page of your new passport. If you lose your passport, or if it is stolen, you will need to get a new passport and then give us the details.

Cost

The visa application charges are listed in Fees and charges.

You might have to pay other costs, such as the costs of health assessments, police certificates, or any other certificates or tests. You are responsible for making the necessary arrangements.

Visa applicants

This information tells you what you need to do to apply for a Special Program visa (subclass 416).

Your application must be supported by an approved special program sponsor.

Who could get this visa

You might be able to get this visa if:

  • you meet health and character requirements
  • you have health insurance for the entire period you are in Australia.
  • you meet the following requirements of the Seasonal Worker Program:
    • be a citizen of and resident in Timor-Leste, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu or Vanuatu
    • be at least 21 years of age
    • intend to enter Australia temporarily for seasonal work and return to your home country after your employment ceases.

Health requirements

You must meet certain health requirements. The health examinations you need will depend on your personal circumstances, including your period of stay. country of citizenship, time spent in another country during the last five years and intended activities in Australia. The results are usually valid for 12 months.

If you are from Timor-Leste, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu or Vanuatu, you must have a chest x-ray and have the results assessed by a panel physician. You may wish to organise your health examinations upfront before lodging a visa application.

Health Insurance

You must have adequate health insurance unless you are covered by Medicare. You should ensure that your insurance will provide at least the level of coverage required for the purpose of your stay. Your health insurer could be in either Australia or your home country.

Attachment A in thehealth insurance standard template letter (138 kB RTF) is a guide to the level of health insurance we will accept as adequate.

Character requirements

You must meet certain character requirements. You must be prepared to provide a police certificate from each country you have lived in for 12 months or more during the past 10 years after you turned 16 years of age. Do not arrange for police certificates until we ask you to.

You must provide a certified English translation with all documents that are not in English.

Debts to the Australian Government

You must have no outstanding debts to the Australian Government or have arranged to repay any outstanding debts to the Australian Government before this visa can be granted.

How to apply

This information explains what you need to do to apply for a Special Program visa (subclass 416).

You must be outside Australia when you apply for this visa and when the visa is granted.

Prepare your documents

You must provide documents to prove the claims you make in your application. The documents you must provide are listed in the Document checklist (see Document checklist heading below).

Some documents could take some time to obtain. You should have all the required documents ready before you lodge your application to reduce any delays in processing.

The department will contact you if you need to provide more information.

Lodge your application by email, post or courier

Lodge your application by email to:

You can pay by credit card, bank cheque or money order made payable to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

More information

There is more information to help you prepare your application, such as certifying and translating documents into English, communicating with us, using a migration agent, authorising another person to receive information from us, and receiving assistance with your application.

Alternatively, you can submit an enquiry through: Hobart Special Program Processing Centre Enquiry Form.

After you apply

Wait for a decision

We have service standards relating to the time it takes to process applications for this visa. Processing times can be affected by the country you come from and other circumstances.

Do not make arrangements to travel to Australia until you are advised in writing that you have been granted a visa.

Provide more information

You can provide more information to us, at any time until a decision is made on the application. If you want to correct information you provided, use:

We could also ask you for more information. You will have to respond by a set date. After that date, we can make a decision about your application using the information that we have.

If another person gives us information that could result in you being refused a visa, we will usually give you the opportunity to comment on the information.

You might also be interviewed. If you are asked to attend an interview in person, bring your passport or other identification and any requested documents to the interview.

Report changes in circumstances

You must tell us if your circumstances change. This includes a new residential address, a new passport, or a pregnancy, birth, divorce, separation, marriage, de facto relationship or death in your family.

You can use the following forms:

If you do not provide us with the details of any new passport issued to you, you could experience significant delays at the airport and may be denied permission to board your plane.

Withdrawing your application

You can withdraw the application at any time before we make a decision about it. To do this, send us a letter or email to ask for the withdrawal. Your request must include your full name and date of birth. You should also include the number we gave you when you applied, if you know it – this could be a file reference number, client ID, or a Transaction Reference Number.

If you are 18 years of age or older, you must sign the letter of withdrawal or send a separate email or letter.

Visa decision

If the visa is granted, we will let you know:

  • when you can use the visa
  • the visa grant number
  • any conditions attached to the visa.

You will not have a visa label placed in your passport.

If the visa is not granted, we will let you know:

  • why the visa was refused
  • your review rights (if any).
  • the time limit for lodging an appeal.

Document checklist

You need to provide documents to support your application for this visa. We can make a decision using the information you provide when you lodge your application. It is in your interest to provide as much information as possible with your application.

Provide certified copies of original documents. Do not include original documents unless we specifically ask for them. Police certificates should be original documents. Documents not in English must be accompanied by accredited English translations.

Use this checklist to make sure your application is complete.

Forms

A completed application form

Charges

Pay the visa application charge.

Receiving assistance

  • If someone gives you advice or lodges your application for you, that person completes:
    • Form 956 Advice by a migration agent/exempt person of providing immigration assistance (135 kB PDF) (the agent or exempt person completes the form and you must sign it).
  • If you would like someone to receive correspondence from us on your behalf, that person completes:
    • Form 956a Appointment or withdrawal of an authorised recipient (120 kB PDF) (the recipient completes the form and you must sign it).

Your identity

  • Certified copies of the biographical pages of the current passports or travel documents of all people included in the application (these are the pages with the holder's photo and personal details and the issue/expiry dates).
  • Two recent passport-sized photographs (45 mm x 35 mm) of each person included in the application.
    • These photographs should be of the head and shoulders only against a plain background.
    • Print the name of the person on the back of each photograph.
  • If your name has changed: a certified copy of evidence of the name change.

Military service documents

  • If anyone included in the application has served in the armed forces of any country: certified copies of their military service record or discharge papers.

Health requirements

If you are from Timor-Leste, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu or Vanuatu: a chest x-ray and an assessment of the results by a panel doctor.

Health insurance

Evidence that you have health insurance, such as:

  • a statement in the Special Program sponsor’s invitation letter that health insurance has been arranged for you while you are in Australia; or
  • a cover note from a health insurance provider.

Sponsor Details

Evidence that the sponsorship application has been approved, such as the sponsorship application ID number or the sponsor approval letter.

Copy of your letter of invitation from an approved special program sponsor.

Visa holders

This information is for people who have already been granted a Special Program visa (subclass 416). It explains your rights and obligations.

You can use Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) for free to check your visa details and entitlements.

How long your visa lasts

Your visa will be granted until a specified date, usually it will be the length of your employment in Australia, plus additional time for you to travel to and from the place you are employed.

What this visa lets you do

Under the Seasonal Worker Program this visa lets you:

  • work in Australia usually for 14 weeks to six months (you cannot bring your family)
  • stay in Australia usually for up to seven months (depending on your work placement)
  • enter and leave Australia while your visa is valid
  • work for your sponsor:
    • anywhere in Australia if you work in horticulture
    • in limited locations in tourism (accommodation), sugar cane farming, cotton farming or aquaculture.

Your obligations

You must comply with all visa conditions and Australian laws.

If you hold this visa as a participant in the Seasonal Worker Program, you:

  • must continue to be employed by your sponsor
  • must only do the work in the industry covered by the visa
  • cannot work for yourself or anyone other than the sponsor
  • must maintain your health insurance while you are in Australia
  • cannot bring your family with you to Australia.

The ‘No further stay’ condition on your visa prevents you from applying for another substantive visa while in Australia, with the exception of a Protection visa.

Report changes in circumstances

Tell us if your circumstances change. This includes a new residential address, a new passport, or a pregnancy, birth or death in your family.

You can use the following forms:

Sponsors

This information is for an Australian organisation that wants to sponsor a person for a Special Program visa (subclass 416) under the Seasonal Worker Program.

Who can sponsor a seasonal worker

For the Seasonal Worker Program, the sponsor must be an approved employer recruiting seasonal workers for the horticulture program or trial in tourism (accommodation), aquaculture, sugarcane and cotton industries.

To be a sponsor, your organisation must be lawfully established and actively operating in Australia. In addition:

  • you must be an Australian organisation or government agency
  • there must be nothing adverse known about your organisation or it is reasonable to disregard any adverse information
  • if your organisation has previously sponsored overseas workers to Australia, you must have a satisfactory record of complying with Australian laws
  • you must have an approved Special Program Agreement with us.

Special program agreement

To become an approved employer, interested organisations must submit a Request for Expression of Interest (application) to become an Australian Approved Employer for the Seasonal Worker Program to the Department of Employment.

SeeInformation for employers on how to recruit seasonal workers (Department of Employment).

If approved by the Department of Employment, the organisation must enter into a special program agreement with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. The agreement sets out the details of the program, program terms and conditions, monitoring and reporting obligations, and provisions for program re-approval or revocation. All enquiries about special program agreements should be made to internationalarrangements@immi.gov.au.

After you apply

In some cases, you may be asked to provide additional information.

If your application is approved, the Department of Employment will notify you in writing and we will finalise a special program agreement with your organisation.

If your application is not approved, we will advise you in writing. The organisation must gain our approval for the special program agreement before a sponsorship application is lodged.

Applying to be a sponsor under the seasonal worker program

After we sign a special program agreement with the organisation, they will be invited to lodge a sponsorship application.

Prepare your documents

You need to provide documents to prove the claims you make in the application. These documents are listed in the Document checklist for sponsors.

Some of these documents could take some time to obtain. You should have them ready when you lodge your application to reduce any delays in processing

Lodge your application by post, courier or fax

Use the following form:

  • Form 1416S Application for approval as a Special Program Sponsor (167 kB PDF).

You must provide all relevant documents and pay the sponsorship application charge by credit card when you apply.

Lodge your application by email to hobart.pacific.workers@immi.gov.au.

Lodge your application by post, courier or fax to the Hobart office in Tasmania - attention Specialist Temporary Entry Centre.

Cost

The sponsor application charges are listed in Fees and charges.

After you apply

We will provide you with a sponsorship application ID number. We might also ask you to supply additional information.

If your application to be a sponsor is approved, we will send you a sponsorship approval letter by post or email.

If your application is not approved, we will send you a letter by post or email:

  • advising you of the decision
  • giving reasons for the decision
  • giving information about any review rights.

How long the sponsorship lasts

Sponsors might be approved for up to three years.

Sponsor obligations under the seasonal worker program

You must comply with following sponsorship obligations:

  • cooperate with inspectors
  • tell us when certain events occur
  • keep records
  • provide records and information to the Minister
  • not recover from, transfer or charge certain costs to another person
  • pay costs to locate and remove an unlawful non-citizen.

You are responsible for meeting all your obligations, even if you have someone else authorised to act on your behalf, including a migration agent.

In this section, a primary sponsored applicant is a person your organisation intends to employ as a seasonal worker under the Seasonal Worker Program.

Cooperate with inspectors

You must cooperate with inspectors appointed under the Migration Act 1958 (the Act) who are investigating whether:

  • a sponsorship obligation is being, or has been, complied with
  • you have hired an illegal worker
  • there are other circumstances in which we might take administrative action.

This obligation:

  • starts on the day the sponsorship is approved or work agreement commences
  • ends five years after the day the approved sponsorship ends or work agreement ceases.

Tell us when certain events occur

You must tell us in writing when certain events occur. Send the information by registered post or electronic mail to a specified address and within certain timeframes of the event occurring.

Events where a sponsor must provide information to us include:

  • the primary sponsored person is unable to meet the requirements of the program;
  • the primary sponsored person is unable to participate in the program;
  • the primary sponsored person ceases to participate in the program prior to the end of the program; and
  • the primary sponsored person fails to attend a program.

This obligation starts to apply on the day the standard business sponsorship is approved or the work agreement commences.

This obligation ends two years after:

  • your sponsorship or the work agreement ends, and
  • you are no longer sponsoring anyone.

Where to send a notice of an event or change

You must send details of these events to one of our offices in the state or territory in which the head office of your organisation is located.

Keep records

You must keep records to show how you have complied with your sponsorship obligations. All records must be in a reproducible format and some must be capable of verification by an independent person.

You must keep records of:

  • any notification that you were required to make to us
  • the date on which you notified us, and how and where you made the notification. 

This obligation starts on the day the sponsorship is approved.

The obligation ends two years after both of the following:

  • you are no longer an approved sponsor, and
  • you are no longer sponsoring anyone.

You do not need to keep any records for more than five years.

Provide records and information to the Minister

You must provide records or information, if they are requested by a departmental officer that goes to determining whether:

  • a sponsorship obligation is being or has been complied with, and
  • determining whether other circumstances, in which the Minister may take administrative action, exist or have existed, in the manner and timeframe requested by us.

We may ask you in writing to provide records or information which relate to your sponsorship obligations, and any other matters that relate to your sponsorship of visa holders. You must provide the records or information requested if it is a record or information that:

  • you are required to keep under Commonwealth, state or territory law
  • you have an obligation to keep as a sponsor.

This obligation starts to apply on the day the sponsorship is approved or work agreement commences.

This obligation ends two years after:

  • your sponsorship or work agreement ceases, and
  • you no longer have a sponsored visa holder.

Not recover, transfer or charge certain costs to another person

You must not take any action or seek to take any action that would result in the transfer or charging of costs (including migration agent costs) to another person, such as a sponsored visa holder or their sponsored family members this includes costs that relate to:

  • the recruitment of the person you sponsored
  • becoming or being a sponsor or former approved sponsor.

This obligation:

  • starts on the day the sponsorship is approved or the work agreement commences
  • ends on the following two events:
    • you cease to be an approved sponsor or party to a work agreement
    • you no longer have a sponsored visa holder.

Sponsors are also required to pay certain costs associated with becoming a sponsor and not pass these costs, in any form, onto another person. These include:

  • cost of sponsorship and nomination charges
  • migration agent costs associated with the lodgement of sponsorship and nomination applications
  • administrative costs and any sundry costs an employer incurs when they conduct recruitment exercises, including:
    • recruitment agent fees
    • migration agent fees
    • the cost of job advertising
    • screening of candidates, short listing, interviews and reference checks
    • salaries of recruitment or human resource staff
    • the cost of outsourcing background checks, police checks and psychological testing where they relate to an employer determining an applicant’s suitability for the position
    • training of new staff
    • responding to queries for prospective candidates, and advising unsuccessful applicants
    • travel costs for the sponsor to interview and/or meet the applicant either overseas or in Australia.

Pay costs to locate and remove an unlawful non-citizen

In the event a primary sponsored person (or any of their sponsored family members) becomes an unlawful non-citizen, you may be required to pay the costs incurred by the Commonwealth in locating and/or removing the primary or secondary sponsored persons from Australia.

This obligation starts on the day the person you sponsored becomes an unlawful non-citizen.

It ends five years after they leave Australia. This means that the Department of Immigation and Border Protection might, up to five years after the person you have sponsored has left Australia, give you a letter requiring payment of the costs that the Commonwealth paid to locate and remove the person you sponsored prior to their departure from Australia.

Monitoring of sponsors and visa holders

You must comply with your obligations as a sponsor. We monitor your compliance with the sponsorship obligations and whether your visa holders are upholding their visa conditions.

We monitor you while you are a sponsor and for up to five years after you cease being a sponsor. We do this routinely and in response to information provided to us, and in three main ways:

  • exchanging information with other Commonwealth, state and territory government agencies, including the Department of Employment, the Fair Work Ombudsman, and the Australian Taxation Office.
  • writing to you to ask for information in accordance with the obligation to provide records and information
  • site visits, usually to the sponsored business premises, with or without notice

Your compliance with the sponsorship obligations might be investigated by Immigration inspectors who have investigative powers under the Migration Act 1958. Failure to cooperate with inspectors is a breach of the sponsorship obligations.

Sanctions for not meeting your sponsor obligations

If you do not meet your obligations, we could take one or more of the following actions:

Administrative

  • you could be barred from sponsoring more people for a specified time
  • you could be barred from applying for approval to be a sponsor, in relation to this visa or another one
  • all of your existing approvals as a sponsor could be cancelled.

Enforceable undertaking

You could be invited to enter into an enforceable undertaking.  Enforceable undertakings require you to promise, in writing, to undertake to complete certain actions to demonstrate that the failures have been rectified and won’t happen again.

Civil

  • we can issue an infringement notice of up to AUD10200 for a body corporate and AUD2040 for an individual for each failure.
  • we can apply to a court for a civil penalty order of up to AUD51 000 for a corporation and AUD10200 for an individual for each failure.

Other circumstances in which administrative action might be taken

In addition, you could also have sanctions imposed if:

  • you provide false or misleading information to us or the Migration Review Tribunal
  • you no longer satisfy the criteria for approval as a sponsor or for variation of a term of that approval
  • you have been found by a court or competent authority to have contravened a Commonwealth, state or territory law
  • the person you have sponsored breaks a law relating to the licensing, registration or membership needed to work in the nominated position.
  • The types of actions that could be taken depend on whether the sponsor is a standard business sponsor or has made  a work agreement.

    If you have sponsored someone under a work  agreement, we could suspend or terminate it in accordance with the clauses of the particular work  agreement.

Document checklist for sponsors

You need to provide documents to support your application to become a sponsor. We could ask you for more information, but we can make a decision using the information you provide when you lodge the application. It is in your interest to provide as much information as possible with your application.

You must provide certified copies of original documents. Do not include original documents unless we specifically ask for them. Documents not in English must be accompanied by accredited English translations.

Use this checklist to make sure your application is complete.

Forms

A completed application form:

  • Form 1416S Application for approval as a Special Program Sponsor (167 kB PDF).

Charges

Receiving assistance

Financial status

  • Provide one of the following:
    • a letter of support from a chartered accountant, Certified Practising Accountant, Professional National Accountant, Fellow Professional National Accountant or reputable financial institution that clearly summarises the organisation’s ability to meet its financial responsibilities, or
    • other details of the organisation’s financial status, such as bank statements for the most recent six months; balance sheets / profit and loss statements / tax returns for the most recently concluded financial year; relevant extracts from the business plan showing cash flow projections; contracts; lease agreements; and statements concerning the source of any funds.
    If your organisation is operated under a trust structure, these documents must relate to the trust (to the trustee in their capacity as trustee).
    Your organisation is not required to provide evidence of its financial status if it is one of the following:
    • an Australian Commonwealth, state, territory or local government organisation, a government business enterprise or a statutory authority/agency
    • listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) and you have provided an ASX Code at Question 21
    • a foreign government agency operating in Australia
    • has more than 20 full-time employees, has satisfactorily sponsored temporary resident visa holders previously, and is listed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and you have provided an ABN and/or ACN/ARBN at questions 18, 19 and 20.

Operations in Australia

The following documents:

  • certificate of registration for tax purposes (ABN)
  • Business Names Extract (if operating under a trading name)
  • ASIC Historical Company Extract
  • ASIC Historical Director Data
  • relevant pages of the trust deed (pages listing parties in the franchise agreement and signature page).

If none of these is applicable to your organisation, provide some form of documentation that shows registration of your organisation with an Australian government authority.

If your organisation is a new or start-up business that has operated for less than 12 months: a combination of:

  • detailed business plan
  • contract of sale relating to the purchase of the business
  • lease agreement relating to business premises
  • evidence of lease or purchase of machinery, equipment, furniture etc.
  • contracts to supply services
  • evidence of employment of staff
  • Business Activity Statements for each complete quarter since the commencement of business
  • business bank statements covering the period of operation.

Compliance with Australian laws

Information relating to your employment arrangements over the past 12 months for any person who is not an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

Information relating to action that has been taken against the organisation by any Australian state or territory government agency in the preceding 12 months, even if it did not result in a criminal or civil penalty being imposed. This should include any breach notices or infringement notices issued to the organisation.

Special Program Agreement

A copy of the Special Program Agreement.

Other documents

A copy of the organisation’s structure chart.

Estimate the cost of your visa

Will the primary applicant be in Australia when the application is lodged?
* Price will be displayed in Australian dollars unless changed.
The Visa Pricing Estimator requires you to answer the questions as accurately as possible to provide you with an estimate for lodging a visa application. The estimator does not include the second instalment of the visa application charge which is payable for some visas. Please note this is an estimate for a visa application, if you have already lodged your application and you want to change/add applicants please refer to the Visa Pricing Table. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection Visa Pricing Estimator will give you an estimate of the charges you may need to pay to lodge a visa application. This is paid after you have made your application but before the visa can be granted. Read the department's full disclaimer. The Commonwealth of Australia does not guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of any material in the Visa Pricing Estimator.

Last reviewed Friday 28 March 2014

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