Entertainment Visas to Australia are about to get a whole lot more streamlined with less red tape. But for large touring groups and festivals application fees will increase dramatically. Small groups and individuals will see government fees reduced slightly. The changes are expected to come into effect this November. 19 November is the current date identified.
The changes are a result of public and industry consultation over the last 18 months. Having assisted clients with 420 visas in large numbers, we were very vocally supportive in limiting the red tape that caused clients quite a bit of stress and delay to streamline the process and cut time and paper wastage. The ability to now lodge applications for our clients visas through our online portal will be extremely beneficial for all involved. However the scrapping of the bulk group discount will see massive cost pressures put on large festivals and promoters. We do not support the abolishing of the group discount being imposed on an already fragile industry.
There will be 4 new visa frameworks which will see five current visas close to new applicantions. Musicians, crew, media, filmmakers and sports people will soon be applying for a new specific visa the “Subclass 408 Temporary Activity Visa”.
Red tape will be substantially reduced and for some activities and clients, the sponsorship and nomination requirement will be removed altogether. We expect this to include 99.9% of music tours, sporting events and most film personnel.
The need for a sponsor in many circumstances will be changed. The abolition of the nomination process could mean that the government costs of a visa may be very substantially reduced (unless the visa application fees are dramatically changed to make up for this loss of revenue).
Only some of the proposed changes have been announced. We will be briefed by immigration at the end of September on the new regime. However, for the time being here is a summary of what we know so far:
the proposed framework
The new visa for entertainers would allow entry into Australia for temporary work or a specified activity.
This new visa, which will replace the current 420 Entertainment Visa, will cover the following temporary visits:
New sponsorship process
After the new laws come into effect, if a client requires Sponsorship approval we will now be able to lodge those applications via our online portal. This will make it easier, quicker and ultimately cheaper for us and our clients. No more paper forms and faxing.
All existing 420 Entertainment sponsors will maintain their sponsorship for the purpose of the new 408 visa until May 2016. However within 6 months existing sponsors who wish to maintain their approval will need to reapply. We will see that the vast majority will no longer need to keep their sponsorship approval given that most approved sponsors rarely require over 3 months for specific tours or projects. For those new sponsors whom we recently obtained Approval Sponsor status, we are not advised if there will be a prorate refund on the 3 year fee, but we will certainly be asking that question.
The new sponsorship regime will also be quite specific, however we will provide more information on this as it becomes available.
New entertainers would not require a nomination.
Nominations lodged before 19 November 2016
All existing nominations under the current 420 Entertainment regime lodged before 19 November 2016 would need to be linked to an associated visa application lodged before 19 November 2016.
If you are an entertainment sponsor and have applied or intend to apply to nominate an applicant before 19 November 2016, you will need to ensure that your nominated applicant applies for their visa before 19 November 2016. Otherwise the nomination cannot be used.
All applications for nominations that were lodged before 19 November 2016 would be assessed and finalised under pre-19 November 2016 legislation.
If the applicant is unable to lodge the associated visa application before 19 November 2016, we will be working with our clients to either withdraw any non-finalised nominations as they may not be used under the new proposed legislation.
On the whole we expect the new system to be a positive however the streamlined process may not necessarily be positive for urgent late applications and those entertainment visa applications that require character assessments or particular medical examinations.
Following our briefing by the department on the new visa regime that will replace the current 420 Entertainment Visa, we will be updating all our clients.
Authors Note: "being able to finally process entertainment visas via the portal for Australia is welcomed, so is no longer needing a sponsor nomination for most. Not keeping the group discounts is either a serious oversight or designed to make up for the fee reductions to be provided to small tour groups. Either way it must be addressed; festivals are finding it difficult enough to secure top international talent with the current Australian Dollar. The festival and large promoter industry is far too important to the entertainment industry as a whole and the nation. Festivals are certainly deserving of the bulk discounts given the total economic benefit a single festival can provide to a small region which is where a majority of the major 3+ day events are held." - Matt McCormick