Visas and migration
[ Domestic Workers and Visitor Visas to Australia ]
Please note that the visa requirements for domestic helpers accompanying their employers on a holiday to Australia changed on 23 March 2013. Visas granted under the old arrangements pre-23 March 2013 are still in effect until they expire.
Visitor visas are not appropriate for domestic helpers to accompany their employers on a holiday to Australia as the intention of the applicant is to work in Australia within the household of the employer.
Visitors wishing to bring their domestic staff to Australia are generally encouraged to seek domestic workers from the Australian labour market.
In recognition that for some of Australia’s key tourism markets, the employment of domestic staff (particularly maids or nannies) and the expectation of being able to travel with them is a significant part of their culture, it is policy to allow domestic staff who are seeking to accompany their employers on a short visit to Australia to apply under the Highly Specialised Work stream of subclass 400 visa.
The applicant must be currently employed in the private household of the employer (who holds a Visitor visa) and be seeking to accompany that person on a short holiday to Australia.
The following factors are taken into consideration in assessing applications from domestic staff:
- whether the domestic staff is integral to the visitor visa holder and any related family unit, or whether the position could be filled by an Australian;
- any cultural reasons for bringing domestic staff to Australia;
- the need to be satisfied that the employer accepts financial responsibility for all financial obligations of the proposed visit;
- any special needs (for example, disabled children requiring care) and reasons why such care may not be obtained in Australia;
- the length and conditions of the employment of the domestic staff;
- the immigration history of the applicant;
- the presence of family and friends in Australia; and
- the proposed length of visit.
Under policy, only one domestic worker per employer/family can be granted a visa, unless exceptional circumstances exist.
Such visas can generally be granted for a maximum of 4 to 6 weeks and the domestic helpers must travel to and from Australia on the same itinerary as their employers. Longer validity can only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
Only single entry visas can be granted and the applicant must enter Australia within 6 months from the date of the visa grant
While there is no minimum requirement for how long a helper has worked in your household, it is generally difficult for applicants to prove that they are an integral part of the household if they have worked for the family for less than 6 months. Please consider this carefully before making an application as the application fee is not refundable. If there are exceptional circumstances for your newly employed helper to accompany you please provide supporting evidence with the application.
Please note that your helper must be paid in accordance with the relevant Australian workplace legislation during their stay in Australia. Wages for domestic assistance in Australia are significantly higher than in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Please refer to Fair Work Ombudsman’s website for further information:
The above guidance may apply where the employer is an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident who is resident overseas and is a travelling to Australia for a short holiday (up to 6 weeks). It would not apply where the employer maintains joint residence in Australia, or where the employer is returning to reside in Australia and is seeking to enter and set up home in Australia and wishes to bring their domestic worker to help with their initial set up, unless exceptional circumstances exist.
Please consider the visa requirements carefully prior to making an application as the application fee is not refundable.
How to Apply for a Subclass 400 Visa (Highly Specialised Work Stream)
Subclass 400 Temporary Work visa applications can be lodged via ImmiAccount for many countries. For eligible countries, please see Subclass 400 eligible countries.
As of 1 July 2013, online lodgement option for Subclass 400 visas is available for nationals of many countries including Hong Kong SAR, British National (Overseas), Macau SAR and Taiwan passport holders. Further information on what passports are eligible for online lodgement and lodgement instructions are available at:
Applications may be lodged at the Australian Visa Application Centre in person or by mail.
The following must be submitted at the time of application. Please ensure that all information is provided at the time of application as the decision will be made based on the available information.
1. Form 1400, including passport photo, fully completed and signed by the domestic helper: http://www.border.gov.au/forms/Documents/1400.pdf
2. Additional information form fully completed and signed by the employer: Additional Information From Employers (pdf, 78kb, Jan 2014)
3. Copies of the bio-data pages of the employer’s and domestic helper’s passports and ID cards (from Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan)
4. Travel itinerary if available
5. A full copy of the domestic helper’s employment contract
6. If there are exceptional circumstances requiring more than one helper to travel or longer period of stay please provide a separate statement addressing the exceptional compelling or compassionate circumstances and evidence (such as medical certificates).
The current application fee is 175 AUD. Please include credit card details in form 1400. The fee is not refundable if the application is refused or withdrawn (unless there are legal provisions for a refund in the Australian Migration Act). Please consider the requirements carefully before applying. Further information on fees and charges and payment methods is available at: Visa and Citizenship Charges
The average processing time is 10 working days. Please lodge you application in advance but not more than 3 months before the intended travel. Processing priority will be given only in exceptional compelling or compassionate circumstances.
Please note that once the visa is granted the validity cannot be changed. If your travel plans change outside the visa validity a new application must be made and a new application fee paid.
Please note that Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa Subclass 400 should be considered for helpers who accompany their employers in their work capacity and will continue to provide assistance to their employers during their stay in Australia (for example assisting with children or providing health care).
If a helper intends to visit Australia for a holiday and does not intend to assist their employers during their stay they should apply for a Visitor (Tourism Stream) visa Subclass 600. They will need to meet the requirements for this visa including demonstrating strong incentives to return and comply with the visa conditions. Generally, offers of support or guarantees given by family, friends or employer are not sufficient evidence of a genuine visit. The onus is on the visa applicant to satisfy the decision maker that he or she intends to only visit Australia. Please refer to our website for further information on Subclass 600 visa:
Please consider the most appropriate visa option and visa conditions carefully as the application fee is not refundable if the application is refused.
Page Last Update: 19 January 2016