New declarations are required for Australian 420 entertainment visas. Note - the 420 Visa was replaced with the 408 via in 2017, the information below remains relevant for the 408 Entertainment Visa
On 14 December 2015 new criminal and civil penalties and visa cancellation provisions were introduced as part of a framework that allows for sanctions to be imposed on a person who "asks for, receives, offers or provides a benefit in return for a visa sponsorship" or employment that requires visa sponsorship (otherwise known as a 'sponsorship-related event').
The changes also require another step to be taken in the application process for all applicants.
what is a payment for visas
'Payment for visas' conduct relates to the asking for, receiving, offering to provide, or providng a benefit in return for a sponsorship-related event.
A 'sponsorship-related event' covers a broad range of sponsor and employer-related events including, but not limited to:
In the 'payment for visas' context, this would cover performance fee deductions and inflated payments for goods or services in relation to the tour or event.
Where a 'benefit' is asked for, received, offered or provided in association with a 'sponsorship-related event', this is considered to be participation in 'payment for visas' activity and contravenes the new laws that prevent 'payment for visas' conduct.
the aim of these changes
Clearly the overall aim is to protect overseas workers from exploitation. The changes relate to all classes of visas requiring a sponsor and this is why the short term 420 Entertainment Visa is captured. The 420's are of much lesser concern to the department of immigration than other long term trade based visas. However in the context of entertainment it is covered to stop sponsors from obtaining 'inappropriate' financial gain through selling of sponsorship for visas.
Professional services would not ordinarily be captured under these changes as a 'payment' for visas due to the fact that the payment for those services are unlikely to be an 'inducement' to enter into a 'sponsorship-related event'.
The penalties are substantial - 2 years imprisonment is the maximum criminal penalty or a $64,000 fine. The penalty for a Company is 5 times the personal penalty equaling $216,000 as a maximum fine.
Visas can also be cancelled and the Applicants deported and the sponsors lose their approval to be a visa sponsor again.
ok so what does it mean to a 420 visa application
Following the introduction of these new laws, Temporary Work (Entertainment) visa (subclass 420) sponsors and visa applicants are required to provide a statement in relation to current or previous conduct that constitutes a breach in ‘payment for visas’ activity.
Until the nomination (1420N) and visa application (1420) forms are updated and republished by the department, sponsors and visa applicants need to complete and sign an interim Certification (sponsor) and Declaration (visa applicant) that the department has provided to us directly. This form needs to be submitted and all future application (until the new permanent are made public).
Yep another form to be completed....... oh the joys of red tape.
Applications received on or after 14 December 2015 without the Declaration and Certification will be invalid until these documents are provided. Sponsors and visa applicants will be invited to validate the application by providing the documents. Failure to provide the declaration or certification will invalidate the application.
The new forms are expected to be available by the end of January 2016, in the meantime we hold the temporary forms which will be going out to all clients we are currently working with for their entertainment visa applications. All clients are asked to complete them immediately and scan a copy straight back to us with the original posted to us.