Subclass 400:
Temporary Work Visa

The 400 visa subclass permits employers to engage highly specialised foreign workers on a short term basis. Generally speaking, the duration of such a visa cannot exceed 6 months. If you are looking to stay for an extended period, you will likely need to seek an alternative visa subclass. In comparison to other Australian temporary work visa options, this visa provides a quicker, simpler and cheaper pathway to obtaining working rights. The subclass 400 visa does not require a sponsorship or nomination, nor is any direct cost incurred by the Australian employer.

Although it is largely dependent on the circumstances, the applicant’s skills must be reasonably specialised such as to not be readily available in the Australian labour market. Due to Australia’s highly qualified domestic workforce, the benchmark for the 400 visa subclass is very strict. Furthermore, this subclass is not appropriate for any ongoing work arrangements. Should the Department suspect that the visa applicant intends to settle in Australia or remain with the prospective employer on a long term basis long term, the application will likely be subject to refusal.

the subclass 400 visa is comprised of two (2) streams:

  • Highly Specialised Work stream; and
  • Australia’s Interest stream

Regardless of the stream applied for, the applicants must be outside of Australia at the time of application.

Application Charges

  • Base application charge: $310
  • Additional applicant charge for an applicant who is at least 18: $310
  • Additional applicant charge for an applicant who is less than 18: $80

Note that no application charge is payable for foreign emergency workers or persons acting on behalf of a foreign Government.

Common Criteria

The following criteria must be satisfied by all applicants, irrespective of the stream under which the temporary work short stay visa is applied for:
  • The applicant has the requisite personal attributes or employment background.
  • There is a need for the applicant to be present in Australia to undertake the work or activity.
  • The applicant has the means to support themselves whilst in Australia
  • The applicant is a genuine temporary entrant
  • The applicant satisfies the proscribed public interest criteria

Personal Attributes and Employment Background

Applicants for the 400 visa subclass must have personal attributes or an employment background relevant to and consistent with the nature of the proposed work. In determining whether this element is met, the following factors may be relevant:

  • Current occupation and skill level;
  • Academic qualifications;
  • English proficiency;
  • Experience in undertaking similar activities or work.

Need to be Present in Australia

To be eligible for a temporary work visa for Australia the applicant must evidence a need to be physically present in Australia to undertake the non ongoing work to which the visa is subject. If the work or activity does not require the applicant to be in Australia, the 400 visa subclass application may be refused.

Means of Support

You must show that you have access to sufficient funds to finance your travel, including any pay you receive for the short term highly specialised work you plan to undertake. If the Department does not consider that you can financially afford your stay, your application will be refused. It is therefore important to provide evidence of how you are planning to pay for your stay when preparing your temporary work short stay 400 visa subclass application.

Genuine Temporary Entrant

As a short stay visa subclass, applicants for the 400 visa subclass must satisfy the department Department that they intend to depart from Australia at the conclusion of their temporary work visa in Australia. The way this is assessed by the department is influenced by your country of citizenship and your personal circumstances. If you are from a developing country, the Department may be concerned that you may overstay and not depart at the conclusion of your temporary work short stay visa. If you are from such a country, it is extremely important to provide evidence demonstrating to the Department that you are required to return home before the expiry of your Australian visa.

Public Interest Criteria

4001, 4002, 4003, 4004, 4005, 4011, 4013, 4014, 4020, 4021, 4012, 4017 and 4018 (if applicable).

Special Return Criteria

5001, 5002 and 5010.

Visa Conditions

In relation to the main applicant, the following must be imposed:

8107: Approved employment only.

8303: The holder must not become involved in activities disruptive to, or violence threatening harm to, the Australian community or a group within the Australian community.

In relation to the main applicant, the following may be imposed:

8503: The holder will not, after entering Australia, be entitled to be granted a substantive visa, other than a protection visa, while the holder remains in Australia.

In relation to a secondary applicant, the following must be imposed:

8101: The holder must not engage in work in Australia.

8303: The holder must not become involved in activities disruptive to, or violence threatening harm to, the Australian community or a group within the Australian community.

In relation to a secondary applicant, the following may be imposed:

8503: The holder will not, after entering Australia, be entitled to be granted a substantive visa, other than a protection visa, while the holder remains in Australia.

Highly Specialised Work Stream​

This stream is intended for Australian businesses that require the services of highly specialised foreign workers on a short term basis. Applicants lacking manifest specialisation, or with specialisations which are readily available within the Australian labour market will not be eligible for this visa. The criteria of this stream require that:

  • The applicant is invited by an Australian business;
  • The work to be undertaken is highly specialised and non ongoing;
  • The applicant is not an entertainer (exceptions apply);
  • Granting the visa would not result in adverse consequences in terms of employment, training or work conditions for Australian citizens, permanent residents or eligible New Zealand citizens.

Special Return Criteria

  • Applicants in this stream must produce evidence that the work requires highly specialised skills, knowledge or experience. The definition of short term highly specialised work is not extensively dealt with under regulation. The Department does however provides guidance as to relevant pieces of evidence that will be considered: For Standard Employment
    • Statement from the Australian employer;
    • Assessment by a peak industry body;
    • Evidence from large employment agencies;
    • Comment from a union attesting that the skills cannot be reasonably sourced in Australia.
    For Project-Based Employment
    • Evidence from the Australian employer about its size and duration;
    • Schedule and stages of work to be performed;
    • Number of Australians citizens or permanent residents employed or to be employed;
    • Number of jobs generated and to be generated for Australians.
    In particular, this stream will generally be appropriate for foreign workers with specialised, often proprietary, expertise in technologies developed overseas. The specialised knowledge must be unavailable or of limited availability in the Australian workforce and the role must be non-generic. Typical situations endorsed under policy include:
    • Maintenance or installation of equipment requiring specialised or proprietary knowledge;
    • Advisory roles concerning industry techniques or equipment not currently used in Australia;
    • Trainers being imported to support introduction of new products, concepts or methods;
    • Internal auditor of a multinational corporation needed to audit a related entity in Australia.

    Because this stream largely centers on the domestic availability of the applicant’s specialist skills or knowledge, it is often necessary for inviting businesses to make efforts to source workers domestically. Whilst not strictly required under the regulations, Department policy appears to imply that some form of domestic labour market testing may be highly persuasive in satisfying this criterion.

Non-ongoing Work

Subclass 400 is a temporary work short stay visa and is only intended for short term highly specialised work. As such, the applicant needs to demonstrate that the likely duration of the work engagement is less than 6 months. Under policy, delegates are instructed to pay careful scrutiny to any application requesting a stay in excess of 3 months. Work that will likely be longer than 6 months until completion will be regarded as ongoing, rather than short term, and the visa application will likely fail as a result.

The Department will look at any evidence which suggests an intention to remain in Australia on a long-term basis. Any arrangement made by the applicant to remain in Australia beyond 6 months will likely result in visa refusal. Some factors taken into account in assessing this criterion include:

  • Any history of frequent travels to Australia in the past;
  • Any other arrangements that the applicant may have in place to remain in Australia for an extended duration;
  • Whether the Australian employer seems to be rotating multiple foreign employees for the same position.


In most instances, entertainers are directed to apply for a Subclass 408 visa, as they are not eligible for Subclass 400. Exemptions exist in limited circumstances, however many of these exemptions merely serve to prevent certain activities from incorrectly being regarded as entertaining. Such exemptions include:

  • Promotional activities by entertainers where activities do not include performance;
  • Speakers whose principal intent is to impart information, knowledge or facts;
  • Performance preparation workshops.

No Adverse Employment, Training or Work Consequences

In issuing a subclass 400 temporary work visa, Australia intends to address critical deficiencies in the domestic labour market where said skills are simply not available. The Department is stringent on ensuring that Australian employers are not abusing this visa scheme to undercut local wages or hire foreign talent under unfavorable employment conditions.

When considering this criterion, the delegate will assess the application for “risk factors” by consideration of the following:

  • Whether the applicant holds a passport that is not eligible for Subclass 601 or 651 visas;
  • Where the visa is requested for more than 8 weeks in duration and the occupation is not in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification Groups (ANZSIC) 1, 2 or 3;
  • Where the visa is requested for more than 3 months whether in isolation or aggregation through multiple entries;
  • Whether the Australian business appears to be rotating foreign workers under multiple Subclass 400 visas;
  • Whether the nature of the Australian business is consistent with the need for the specialised worker.

Where risk factors have been identified, the delegate will scrutinize the proposed remuneration and work conditions offered to the 400 visa applicant. This scrutiny will often require additional evidence to justify the need for the applicant’s service, such as through statements from recruitment agencies or relevant trade unions.

Australia’s Interest Stream

In extraordinary circumstances, a Subclass 400 visa may be issued on the grounds that it would be in Australia’s national interest. According to the Department’s guidelines, this may include circumstances where:

  • Emergency workers are assisting in a disaster or emergency, such as bush fires;
  • Refusing the application would damage Australia’s relationship with a foreign Government;
  • The refusal would result in Australia missing out on a significant benefit;
  • The refusal would adversely affect Australia’s trade or business opportunities.

Under this stream, applicants are not required to prove that the work is not ongoing or will not cause adverse employment consequences. Nevertheless, if an applicant in this stream also satisfies the criteria for the visa grant in the other Highly Specialised Work stream, the Subclass 400 visa will likely be granted under the latter stream.

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