Special Program visa (subclass 416) for the seasonal worker programme

​This visa is closed to new applications.​


The special programme of seasonal work allows seasonal workers to contribute to the economic development of their home country by providing access to work opportunities in the Australian agriculture and accommodation industries. The programme offers seasonal labour in selected industries to Australian employers who cannot source local labour.

The participating countries include Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Intergovernmental memoranda of understanding (MOUs) were signed by the Australian Government and the governments of these participating countries to enable the citizens who are residents of these countries to participate in the programme.

In addition to the Seasonal Worker Programme, the Special Program visa (subclass 416) has another stream called Special Programmes.​


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

About this visa

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

This visa has been moved to the Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (subclass 403).

Visa holders

Workers in Australia – including visa holders with permission to work – have rights under Australian workplace law.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT) provides information on pay rates, shift calculations, leave arrangements and notice and redundancy entitlements.

See also: Workplace rights for all visa holders working in Australia

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

Your visa will be granted until a specified date, usually it will be the length of your employment in Australia, plus additional time for you to travel to and from the place you are employed.

What this visa lets you do

Under the Seasonal Worker Programme this visa lets you:

  • do the work in Australia as specified in your visa application (usually for a period of 14 weeks to six months)
  • stay in Australia usually for up to seven months in any 12 month period (depending on the length of your work placement)
  • enter and leave Australia while your visa is valid
  • work for your sponsor:
    • anywhere in Australia if you work in horticulture
    • in limited locations in tourism (accommodation), sugar cane farming, cotton farming or aquaculture.

Your obligations

You must comply with all visa conditions and Australian laws.

If you hold this visa as a participant in the Seasonal Worker Programme, you:

  • must continue to be employed by your sponsor
  • must only do the work in the industry covered by the visa
  • cannot work for yourself or anyone other than the sponsor
  • must maintain your health insurance while you are in Australia
  • cannot bring your family with you to Australia.

The ‘No further stay’ condition on your visa prevents you from applying for another substantive visa while in Australia, with the exception of a Protection visa.

Report changes in circumstances

You must tell us if your circumstances change.  This includes a new residential address, a new passport, or a pregnancy, birth, divorce, separation, marriage, de facto relationship or death in your family.

Please report changes in your circumstances via ImmiAccount.  If you are not able to use ImmiAccount, you can use the following forms:

If you do not provide us with the details of any new passport issued to you, you could experience significant delays at the airport and may be denied permission to board your plane.


This information is for an Australian organisation who has sponsored a person for a Special Program visa (subclass 416) under the Seasonal Worker Programme.

How long the sponsorship lasts

Sponsors might be approved for up to three years years or for the period of the agreement with Department of Employment.

Sponsor obligations under the seasonal worker programme

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.

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 as a seasonal worker under the Seasonal Worker Programme.

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.

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 program 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 to show how you have complied with your sponsorship obligations. All records must be in a reproducible format and some must be capable of verification by an independent person.

You must keep records of:

  • any notification that you were required to make to us
  • the date on which you notified us, and how and where you made the notification.

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 to the Minister

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 us.

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.

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 Home Affairs 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.

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:


  • 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.


  • we can issue an infringement notice of up to AUD10200 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.

Estimate the cost of your visa

Will the primary applicant be in Australia when the application is lodged?
The following Visa Pricing Estimator requires you to answer the questions as accurately as possible to provide you with an estimate for lodging a visa application. The estimator might not include the second instalment of the visa application charge which is payable for some visas. Please note this is an estimate for a visa application, if you have already lodged your application and you want to change/add applicants please refer to the Visa Pricing Table. The Visa Pricing Estimator will give you an estimate of the charges you may need to pay to lodge a visa application. This is paid after you have made your application but before the visa can be granted. Read the department's full disclaimer. The Commonwealth of Australia does not guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of any material in the Visa Pricing Estimator.