Religious Worker visa (subclass 428)

​This visa is closed to new applications.​

Features

This is a temporary visa for people who will be full-time religious workers in Australia.

Requirements

This visa is closed to new applications.

About this visa

The Religious Worker visa (subclass 428) is closed to new applications. You cannot apply for this visa.

You may wish to consider whether the Temporary Work (Long Stay Activity) visa (subclass 401) is appropriate for you.

Visa holders

This information is for people who have already been granted a Religious Worker visa (subclass 428). 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 is usually valid for the period of the nominated position, with a maximum period of two years.

What this visa lets you do

This visa lets you:

  • work full-time as a religious worker for your sponsoring religious institution
  • stay in Australia for the period of the nominated position, with a maximum stay of two years
  • bring your family with you to Australia (they can work and study)
  • leave and enter Australia as many times as you want while your visa is valid.

Your obligations

You and your family must:

  • comply with all visa conditions and Australian laws
  • maintain adequate arrangements for health insurance while in Australia
  • not be involved in activities disruptive to, or violence threatening harm to, the Australian community or a group within the Australian community.

Work in Australia

You must not:

  • stop working for the employer who sponsored you for this visa
  • engage in work or an activity that is inconsistent with your nominated position
  • work for another person or for yourself while also working for your sponsor.

If you stop working for your sponsor

If you stop working for your sponsor, you must:

  • be sponsored by another organisation to stay in Australia
  • apply for another visa
  • leave Australia before your visa expires.

Changing your sponsor

If you want to change your position or employer, you do not need to apply for a new visa (unless your visa is close to expiry).

Before you can start a position with a new organisation, you must be nominated by your proposed new sponsor and have that nomination approved first.

If your visa is close to expiry

If your visa is close to expiry, you will need to:

The new sponsoring organisation will need to apply for approval as a long stay activity sponsor if it is not already an approved religious worker sponsor or long stay activity sponsor.

If your visa is not close to expiry

If your visa is not close to expiry, to be able to work for the new organisation for the period remaining on your visa without having to apply for a new visa, you must:

  • be sponsored by the new organisation
  • have the new organisation lodge a Form 1378: Nomination for a temporary position (237 kB PDF).

Your family’s obligations

Your family cannot enter Australia before you. When your visa ends, your family must leave Australia with you.

They must:

  • intend to remain a member of your family unit
  • maintain adequate health insurance while they are in Australia.

Your family can work or study while their visa is valid.

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 approved sponsors of people on a Religious Worker visa (subclass 428). You cannot apply to sponsor applicants for this visa because it is no longer open to new applications.

When this sponsorship approval ends, if you want to sponsor anyone else as a religious worker, you will need to lodge a new sponsorship application for approval as a long stay activity sponsor which will allow you to sponsor applicants for the Temporary Work (Long Stay Activity) visa (subclass 401).

You can use Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO for Organisations) to check the visa details and entitlements of a person that you have sponsored.

How long the sponsorship lasts

Your sponsorship is valid for up to three years during which time you can sponsor religious workers for a Temporary Work (Long Stay Activity) visa (subclass 401).

If you want to sponsor anyone as a religious worker after your sponsorship ceases, you will need to apply to be approved as a long stay activity sponsor which will allow you to sponsor applicants for the Temporary Work (Long Stay Activity) visa (subclass 401).

If the person you intend to sponsor is the holder of a Religious Worker visa (subclass 428) which is still valid, you may be able to sponsor them on this visa for the remainder of its validity. You will need to nominate the person using the following form:

  • Form 1378 Nomination for a Temporary Position (237 kB PDF)

Nominations

Each occupation, program or activity which you nominated will have its approval cease on the earliest of:

  • the day on which we receive written notification of your withdrawal of the nomination
  • 12 months after the day on which the nomination is approved
  • 3 months after the day on which your approval as a sponsor ceases if the nomination approval is given to you
  • the day on which your approval as a sponsor is cancelled if the nomination approval is given to you
  • the day on which the visa was granted on the basis of the nomination.

Sponsor obligations

You must be able to 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
  • ensure the visa holder works in the nominated occupation, program or activity
  • secure an offer of a reasonable standard of accommodation 
  • pay travel costs to enable sponsored people to leave Australia

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

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 could 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.

Cooperating with inspectors can include (but is not limited to):

  • providing access to premises 
  • producing and providing documents within the requested timeframe  
  • not preventing  or attempting to prevent ,access to a person who has custody of, or access to, a record or documents 
  • providing officers with access to interview any person on their premises.

Keep records

You must keep records that show your compliance with your sponsorship obligations. All of the records must be kept in a reproducible format and some must be capable of verification by an independent person. Records that must be kept, in addition to records that must be kept under other Australian Government, and state or territory laws, include the following:

  • written requests for payment of outward travel costs for a sponsored visa holder or their family, including when the request was received 
  • how the outward travel costs were paid, how much was paid, for whom they were paid, and when they were paid.

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 the department.

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.

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 ceases to participate in the nominated activity;
  • the primary sponsored person fails to participate in the nominated activity;
  • a change to the information in the sponsor's application for approval as a sponsor, relating to the person's address and contact details; and
  • the sponsor has paid return travel costs to enable the sponsored persons to leave Australia.

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 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.

Ensure that the visa holder participates in the nominated occupation, program or activity

You must ensure that the person you have sponsored  participates only in the occupation, program or activity for which you nominated them. If you want to engage a visa holder for a different occupation, program or activity, you must lodge a new nomination application. This obligation starts on the day the person you have sponsored is granted a visa. If they already hold a visa when you nominate them, your obligation starts on the day the nomination is approved.

This obligation ends on the day (whichever is the earliest):

  • the sponsored visa holder has a nomination approved for another approved sponsor
  • the sponsored visa holder is granted another  substantive visa of a different type for which you sponsored them (unless that other visa is a bridging visa, criminal justice visa or enforcement visa) 
  • the sponsored visa holder has left Australia and  the relevant visa (and any subsequent bridging visa) is no longer in effect.

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 travel costs to enable sponsored people to leave Australia

You must pay reasonable and necessary travel costs to enable the sponsored person  and their sponsored family members to leave Australia. They must ask you in writing for you to pay the costs. We can also make a written request  on their behalf.

The costs will be considered reasonable and necessary if they include all of the following:

  • travel from the sponsored persons usual place of residence in Australia to their place of departure from Australia 
  • travel from Australia to the country (for which the sponsored visa holder holds a passport) and intends to travel to
  • economy class air travel or, where that is not available, a reasonable equivalent.

Travel costs must be paid within 30 days of receiving the request.

You will only be required to pay return travel costs once. If a sponsored person returns to Australia (whilst holding the visa for which you sponsored them) after you have paid their return travel costs, you will not be required to pay their return travel costs again.

This obligation starts on the day:

  • the visa is granted (if the sponsored person did not already hold a visa when your nomination of them was approved, or
  • your nomination is approved (if the person already held  a visa in this subclass when your nomination is approved).

This obligation ends on the day (whichever is the earliest):

  • another sponsor has their nomination application for the sponsored person approved
  • the person you sponsored is granted another visa other than a subclass 457 visa, a bridging visa, a criminal justice visa, or an enforcement visa
  • the person you sponsored has left Australia and the relevant visa (and any subsequent bridging visa) is no longer in effect.

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.

You may be liable to pay the Commonwealth the difference between the actual costs incurred by the Commonwealth (up to a maximum of AUD10 000) less any amount which may have already been paid under the obligation to pay travel costs to enable sponsored persons to leave Australia (see ‘Obligation to pay travel costs’ above).

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 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.

Secure an offer of a reasonable standard of accommodation

If you sponsor someone to work for you as a volunteer without a salary or wages or sponsor someone to participate in a professional development program, you must secure an offer of a reasonable standard of accommodation in Australia for them and any family they bring with them.

If the accommodation becomes unavailable, you must find alternative accommodation for them.

A ‘reasonable standard of accommodation’ means that the accommodation must:

  • meet all relevant state or territory and local government regulations regarding fire, health and safety
  • offer 24-hour access
  • provide meals or a self-catering kitchen
  • be clean and well-maintained
  • have a lounge area
  • have adequate laundry facilities or a laundry service
  • provide power for lighting, cooking and refrigeration
  • have an adequate ratio of guests to bathroom facilities
  • have uncrowded sleeping areas
  • provide appropriate gender segregated areas and bathroom facilities
  • allow adequate privacy and secure storage for personal items.

This obligation starts on the day:

  • your nomination of the sponsored person is approved, or
  • the day the visa is granted (if the person you have sponsored does not already hold this visa when you nominate them or nomination was not required for that visa type).

This obligation ends on the day (whichever is earliest):

  • another sponsor has their nomination application for the same person approved
  • the person you have sponsored is granted a further visa of a different type for which you sponsored them (unless that other visa is a bridging visa, criminal justice visa or enforcement visa) 
  • the person you have sponsored has left Australia and the visa (and any bridging visa) is no longer in effect.

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.

Success stories

Artem Grigorev

As a boy growing up in Moscow, Artem Grigorev and his parents decided the uncertainty about civil society and safety meant the then–teenager would need to leave Russia and be educated abroad.

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