Overseas Film-TV Personnel Need Visas to Work in Australia!*
If you are an overseas film, documentary, television or commercial producer, director, crew or cast, you need a 408 visa to film or work in Australia. As do musicians, performers, photographers and visual artists.
Simply, ALL foreign film & TVC crew and cast working in Australia need a 408 visa, even if the production will not be shown in Australia. If you are considering bringing overseas talent or crew into Australia, it behoves you to be conversant with the basics of the Australian 408 entertainment visa.
When applying for the 408 entertainment visa, the requirements are:
- On-line application only.
- A sponsor is not required unless the stay is longer that 3 months or if applied for while in Australia. Sponsors must be an approved entertainment sponsor.
- A visa application charge.
- Visas can be processed very quickly if everything is submitted together and correctly.
- Union consultation is required except for a documentary or commercial that will not air in Australia.
As a producer who brings in foreign talent and crew, Kevin uses the visa services of Migration Ways (Alberta Miculan) to lodge 408 visa applications. This takes the complicated visa application process off Kevin’s clients’ very full plates and puts them into Kevin and Alberta’s experienced hands. All the applicant now needs to do is supply the documents noted below, complete a questionnaire and supply its supporting documents.
As noted, sponsors/supporters and applicants (or their agents) must now lodge their applications on-line using an Immi Account at https://online.immi.gov.au/lusc/login. If you are using a migration agent, they should already have an Immi Account.
The following is a list of the supporting documents that must be provided with your on-line 408 application:
- Letter of Invitation/Support from an Australian resident or organisation.
- Applicant’s CV.
- Details of the event, activity or work the applicant will be involved in.
- Travel schedule for the event, activity or work.
- Signed Contract/Deal Memo between the employer and applicant. (There are tax implications if the employer is Australian).
- Names and details of any family member travelling with the applicant.
- Copy (scan) of the ID (photo) page of the applicant’s passport.
- Evidence of health insurance that will cover the applicant during the stay in Australia.
If your production is screening in Australia, you will also have to present:
- Evidence to show that the activity will bring ‘net employment benefit’ (economic gain) to Australia.
- Copy of the Consultation letter sent to the appropriate union/guild.
- Cast performers in film or TV will need a certificate from the Ministry for the Arts.
For more information about the checklist, visit https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/408-/applicant-checklist.
Producers or directors coming to Australia only for a scout or for meetings can travel more simply on a Business-Visitor Visa.
When you are applying for a visa, you are dealing with a government authority. Honesty is the best policy. Consider the following:
1) Working on the wrong visa. It’s very tempting to look for an easier way than going through the process of applying for an entertainment visa, particularly when you may be only conducting a one-day shoot. Remember, however, that when you arrive in Australia, you will have to sign an Arrival Document, which, among other things, asks you the purpose of your visit. To write “tourist” when you are not is clearly breaking the law and if you are caught you can be taken to one side, questioned, placed in detention and shipped back home. Further, your passport details will be tagged as an offender, which could jeopardise your future work travel, not only in Australia but also to other countries around the world. Immigration officers today have so much information available to them that it is easier for them to catch offenders.
2) It may also be illegal for you to advise a traveller to break the law. Persons giving such advice are exposing themselves to possible litigation.
3) Providing false information on an application or supplying false information to a migration agent can also lead to a visa not being granted.
Each year many entertainment workers visit Australia to work, adding value to productions made here and to the Australian economy, as well as hiring many local crew. And each year too many such visitors are caught entering Australia on the wrong visa or supplying the wrong information on their visa application. The best solution to not be one of these “unlucky ones” is to hire experienced and knowledgeable Australian producers/production services and migration agents. As all producers know, peace of mind comes from doing it right. Then you can focus fully on creative endeavours and not legal matters.
Kevin McGrath is the principal of K and K McGrath Pty Ltd, which specialises in production services for visiting crew and talent in the production and entertainment industries. Kevin’s longstanding production expertise has been utilised by overseas and domestic producers of major internationally released movies, countless large and small TVC’s, documentaries and still shoots. His local knowledge and expertise has seen many of his clients returning again and again to Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org +61-418-295180. http://www.mcgrath.net/
Alberta Miculan of Migration Ways is a registered migration agent and specialises in arranging visas for talent and crew entering Australia. Alberta has obtained visas for many production companies and event promoters based in Australia and overseas, including Bunim Murray (USA), Finch (AU), Otto (AU), MTV (USA/AU), Lightstream (AU), Chugg Entertainment (AU), Lime Pictures (UK), National Geographic (US), and Nickelodeon (AU). Alberta’s expertise includes liaising with the relevant Australian entertainment bodies and unions, and attaining certification by the relevant Australian Government Departments. email@example.com +61 3 9994 2707. www.migrationways.com.au
*An edited version of this article appeared in Compliance Review Quarterly Vol 1. No. 21