Individuals and Travellers

Special Program Visa (Subclass 416)

This visa is closed to new applications.

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 participation in a:

  • cultural enrichment or community benefits programme
  • youth exchange programme
  • school language assistant programme, or  
  • school to school interchange programme.

In addition to the above programmes, the Special Program visa (subclass 416) has another programme called the Seasonal Worker Programme.

Requirements

You can apply for this visa if you have been invited by an approved Special Programme sponsor to participate in an approved programme.

About this visa

The Special Program visa (subclass 416) is closed to new applications from 19 November 2016.

You might be eligible to apply for a Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (subclass 403) or Temporary Activity visa (subclass 408).

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

A Special Program visa (subclass 416) is valid for: the time specified in the special programme agreement between your sponsoring organisation and the department (usually between 3 and 12 months). This period includes any arrival and departure arrangements.

What this visa lets you do

This visa lets you:

  • take part in an approved special programme
  • work or study in Australia, if work or study is part of the approved programme
  • bring eligible family members with you.

Your obligations

You and your family must comply with all visa conditions and Australian laws.

You must do only the activities that you listed in your visa application. You will need to lodge a new application for this visa if you want to:

  • participate in a different activity or activities than you listed in your application
  • undertake activities for yourself or for an organisation that is not the organisation you identified in your application.

You must maintain adequate arrangements for health insurance while you are in Australia.

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 approved sponsors of people on a Special Program visa (subclass 416).

How long the sponsorship lasts

Sponsors might be approved for up to three years.

Sponsor obligations

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
  • secure an offer of a reasonable standard of accommodation
  • pay travel costs to enable sponsored persons 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.

In this section:

  • a primary sponsored applicant is a person your organisation intends to employ or engage in a specified occupation, program or activity
  • a secondary sponsored applicant is a member of the primary sponsored applicant's family.

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.

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.

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

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 by email or to one of our state or territory offices listed below.

By email (preferred): sponsor.notifications@border.gov.au

By registered post:

  • Australian Capital Territory
    Sponsor Monitoring
    GPO Box 717
    Canberra ACT 2601

  • New South Wales
    Sponsor Monitoring
    GPO Box 9984
    Sydney NSW 2001

  • Queensland
    Sponsor Monitoring
    GPO Box 9984
    Brisbane Qld 4001

  • Northern Territory
    Sponsor Monitoring
    GPO Box 864
    Darwin NT 0801

  • South Australia
    Sponsor Monitoring
    GPO Box 2399
    Adelaide SA 5001

  • Tasmania
    Sponsor Monitoring
    GPO Box 794
    Hobart Tas. 7001

  • Victoria
    Sponsor Monitoring
    GPO Box 241
    Melbourne Vic. 3001

  • Western Australia
    Sponsor Monitoring
    Locked Bag 7
    Northbridge WA 6865

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.

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

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.

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.

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’).

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 Immigration 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.

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 about 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 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 person you have sponsored has left Australia and the visa (and any bridging visa) is no longer in effect.

Pay travel costs to enable sponsored applicants 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 person's 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 this 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.

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 AUD10 200 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 AUD10 200 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.