Small Business

Is it possible to set up an Australian charity while on a sponsored 457 visa?

It’s not uncommon for Australian businesses to hire skilled, qualified, and experienced workers from overseas, using Australia’s 457 visa system.

These visas allow approved businesses to hire these types of workers from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List.

Read more: How to hire talented employees from overseas

But can these individuals create an Australian charity while working here on a sponsored 457 visa?

According to the LawAdvisor legal research team, individuals on a 457 visa are technically eligible to create an Australian business, register an Australian Business Number and register a charity with the Not-for-profits Commission.

“But whether you can then work for the businesses is a separate question,” the LawAdvisor legal research team says.

“The answer will likely turn on whether the businesses is a for-profit or a charity organisation.

“These restrictions will not apply once you are a permanent resident.”

A primary visa holder cannot engage in work on their own account, or undertake secondary employment, unless it is undertaken for the sponsor, is consistent with the position they were approved to fill, and is incidental to their principal employment, the LawAdvisor legal research team says.

“However, unpaid work for a charity organisation is not considered to be a breach of this condition, as long as it does not interfere with the visa holders ability to work at their primary job.

“Whether (the) proposed business qualifies as a charity depends on whether it is a non-profit, such that you (the business owner) do not make a financial profit from the business directly or indirectly.

“If you are found to be in breach of the above conditions, you and your sponsor may be subjected to sanction, and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection would seek to cancel the visa.

“You should be honest and open with any government official when making enquiries, as attempting to hide information often leads to visa cancellation as well as exclusion from returning to Australia for certain periods of time.

“Since it is very important to abide by your visa conditions, you should contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to obtain more information about your rights and restrictions under the visa.

“You should also speak to a professional immigration lawyer about your options for starting a business without breaching your visa conditions.”