This visa lets you stay in Australia to take part in an approved special program. Special programs can include youth exchange, cultural enrichment or community programs, school language assistants or “gap year school volunteering “.

You must

– Have an invitation to participate in an approved special program

– Be supported or sponsored depending on your circumstances

– Apply online

With this visa

you can

– Stay in Australia for usually up to 12 months

– Travel to and from Australia as many times as you want

– Include members of the family unit in your visa application

This activity aims to enhance international relations and cultural exchange by allowing people to share cultural and social experiences and knowledge in the Australian community through participation in activity-specific programs.

Cultural exchange should be the main purpose of the program.

There are 4 special program types under this visa.

Cultural enrichment or community benefits program

Other Programs

This program type lets you take part in activities in Australia to exchange ideas, beliefs, rituals, customs and traditions with people of different or similar ethnic or social backgrounds.

The Home Affairs encourage approved Australian organisations to promote these exchanges to foster mutual understanding and tolerance in the Australian community.

The program should last between 3 and 12 months.

Your activities might include:

– Learning about Australian Indigenous languages and cultures

– Pastoral care, religious teaching or evangelism

– Social research, environmental conservation or outdoor education

– Teaching other languages and cultures

– Volunteering with a charity to do outreach work

You can’t undertake training or tourism as your primary activity.

Your sponsor must sign a special program agreement with the Home Affairs.

School Language Assistants program

This program type lets you assist an Australian language teacher at an Australian school for up to 12 months.

You must intend to pursue a career in teaching.

You must only work as a teaching assistant at the school. You will assist qualified Australian language teachers in language and cultural matters.

The Australian school does not need a special program agreement with the Home Affairs.

School-to-school Interchange program

This program lets you to come to Australia as a school assistant for up to 12 months.

You must have recently completed your schooling and be on a gap year before starting work, further studies or training.

You will work as a voluntary assistant. You will not replace qualified teaching staff or take formal classes by yourself.

Your home school (usually a boarding school) does not need a special program agreement with the Home Affairs

Youth exchange program

This program allows for stay in Australia for between 3 and 12 months to partcipate in a youth exchange program. Your sponsor must be part of a broader organisation that sends young Australians overseas for a similar experience. Your sponsor must have a Special Program Agreement with the Home Affairs.

The program should usually last between 3 and 12 months.

Your home organisation must allow an Australian to have a similar experience in a foreign country.

Your sponsor must sign a special program agreement with the Home Affairs.

How long you can stay

This is a temporary visa. The Home Affairs grant the length of stay based on the activity the Home Affairs approve you to do on the visa.

The Home Affairs usually grant this visa for no more than 12 months.

The visa is granted with multiple entry. You can leave and re-enter Australia as many times as you want while the visa is valid.

If you are overseas when the visa is granted, the visa stay period starts on the day that you enter Australia. If you are in Australia, the visa starts on the day that it is granted.

Your visa grant letter will tell you how long you can stay.

Stay longer

You can’t stay in Australia longer by extending this visa. 

Include family

You can:

– Include members of the family unit in your application when you apply, or

– Add family members to your application at any time before the Home Affairs make a decision

Family members who apply for the visa with you must also meet the health and character requirements. 

Subsequent entrants

If the Home Affairs grant you the visa, your family members might be able to apply to join you in Australia later as subsequent entrant. 

Cost

The visa costs AUD310 for the main applicant.

There is also a charge for each family member who applies for the visa with you.

You might also have to pay other costs for health checks, police certificates and biometrics.

To work out what your visa will cost use the Visa Pricing Estimator. The estimator does not take into account the other costs.

Apply from

You can be in or outside Australia, but not in immigration clearance, when you apply for the visa and when the Home Affairs decide on your application.

Processing times

Your application might take longer to process if:

– You don’t fill it in correctly

– You don’t include all the documents the Home Affairs need, or they need more information from you

– It takes us time to verify your information

The Home Affairs can’t process your application if you don’t pay the correct visa application charge. The Home Affairs will let you know if this is the case.

Your obligations

Your activities must not harm the work, training or job conditions of Australian citizens or permanent residents.

You and your family must meet all visa conditions and follow Australian laws.

If your sponsor, supporting organisation or individual stops your activity or employment, you must do one of the following:

– If eligible, apply for a new visa; or

– Leave Australia within 28 days of stopping work for your sponsor/supporter, or earlier if your visa is expiring

Travel

You can travel outside Australia and return as many times as you want while the visa is valid.

The time you spend outside Australia does not extend the visa.

Visa label

The Home Affairs will digitally link your visa to your passport. You will not get a label in your passport.

If the Home Affairs grant you a visa, they will send you a grant notification letter containing the visa grant number. You can use this number to access your digital visa record.

Take part in an approved special program

You must be travelling to Australia to take part in an approved special program. There are 4 types of special programs:

– Cultural enrichment or community benefit programs

– Youth exchange programs

– School language assistance programs

– School-to-school interchange programs

Be here for cultural exchange

The main purpose of the program you take part in should be cultural exchange. You should be here to share cultural and social experiences and knowledge by taking part in the program.

Have a supporter or sponsor

You need a supporter

You don’t need a sponsor to apply for this visa if you:

– Apply outside Australia, and

– Intend to stay for less than 3 months

You must have a supporter to apply for this visa. 

You need a sponsor

You need a sponsor to apply for this visa if you:

– Apply in Australia, or

– Apply outside Australia and intend to stay for more than 3 months

Be able to support yourself and any dependants

You must have enough money to support yourself and any dependent family members who travel to Australia with you.

– Cultural enrichment or community benefit program –>18 years or over    

– School language assistance program –> 18 to 30 years    

– School-to-school interchange program –> 17 to 25 years    

– Youth exchange program –> 18 to 30 years    

Be this age

You must be the right age for the special program you apply for.

Meet health requirement

You and any family members who apply for the visa with you must meet the health requirement.

Meet character requirement

You and family members aged 16 years and over who apply for the visa with you must meet the character requirement.

Have adequate health insurance

You are personally liable for all your healthcare costs while you are in Australia. Medical insurance helps limit your financial liability.

You must have adequate health cover for the whole of your stay to be granted this visa. Your cover should cover you for medically necessary treatment, including transport.

Reciprocal healthcare agreements

Some countries have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Australia. Find out more from Services Australia about reciprocal healthcare agreements. 

Be a genuine temporary entrant

You can’t use the temporary visa program to maintain ongoing residency in Australia.

The genuine temporary entrant (GTE) requirement helps the Home Affairs to make sure that you use temporary visas correctly.

The Home Affairs generally do not let temporary residents extend their stay in Australia beyond 4 years by applying for this visa.

The Home Affairs must be satisfied that you have a genuine intention to stay here temporarily.

When assessing your application, they will consider:

– Your situation

– Your immigration history

– Previous compliance with visa conditions

– If you are under 18 years old, the intention of your parent, legal guardian or partner

– Any other relevant matter

Have paid back your debt to the Australian Government

If you owe the Australian Government money, you must have paid it back or have a formal arrangement to pay it back.

Not have had a visa cancelled or a previous application refused

You might not be eligible for this visa if you have had a visa cancelled or refused while you were in Australia. Check if visa cancellation affects your eligibility.