China and Australia Sign Free Trade Agreement

On 17th June 2015 representatives from China and Australia signed a momentous free trade agreement. For many years now Australia has become one of the major exporters of goods and services to China. Mineral rich Western Australia in particular has maintained a long trading relationship with the Chinese. Indeed last year alone Australia exported over $90 billion worth of resources, energy and manufactured products to China. 

Seeking to capitalise upon this well fostered relationship, both parties have agreed a free trade agreement (FTA) with wide reaching consequences. Economically the consequences are fairly clear. Even if it were only the exports above mentioned, of which 92.9% will now enter China without tariff, the stimulus to further trade would be evident. However the FTA includes additional tariff reductions and service commitments for both Australian/Chinese agriculture and service sectors.

So how does this affect immigration?

As part of this historic agreement both parties have agreed to remove obstructions to commerce as far as is reasonable. As immigration constraints remain one of the primary barriers that exist between both nations, Chapter 10 of the 2015 China-Australia Free Trade Agreements has been dedicated to providing special exemptions and streamlining services for both Chinese and Australian working migrants.

In addition to general agreements to expedite application procedures through the development of technology and ensuring application costs remain low, the agreement (article 10.3) has made several concrete amendments to the immigration rules in Chapter 10 Appendix 10A. The structure of the changes remain roughly the same between both parties, incorporating Business Visitors, Intra Corporate Transfers, Independent Executives, Contractual Service Suppliers, Installer and Servicers, and Accompanying Spouses and Dependants.

Below is a detailed but not exhaustive summary of the changes. We would recommend you consult with a specialist before acting.


Chinese Nationals may now:

  • Enter Australia for up to 90 days for applicants under points 1-2, and  6 months on visitors for point 3,  under a “business visitor” visa;

Activities permitted include,

1.       Seeking or maintaining Australian investment
2.       General business purposes (meetings etc.)
3.       Service selling – sales representatives travelling with the intent of negotiating the sale of a service

Activities explicitly not permitted include,

1.       Direct sales to the public
2.       Applicants supplying goods and services themselves

  • Enter Australia for up to four years on a “Intra-Corporate Transfer” visa;

Applicable individuals include,

1.     Executives or senior management
2.     Specialists
3.     Managers

  • Enter Australia  as an “Independent Executive” (Appendix 10-A Paragraphs 7-8) for up to four years;

Independent executives must,

1.       Be an executive for an enterprise headquartered in China
2.       Be travelling to establish a branch or subsidiary of that company
3.       Be either currently or upon establishment, entirely or generally responsible for the entire enterprise”s operation in Australia

  • Enter Australia as a “Contractual Service Supplier” for up to four years;

Contractual service providers must either,

1.       Be engaged by a Chinese Enterprise that has concluded a contract for the supply of service in Australia that does not have a commercial presence in Australia.
2.       Be engaged by a Australian Enterprise to supply a service in Australia.
3.       Be qualified in a trade or profession to Australian immigration standards (elsewhere specified)

  • Enter Australia as an  “Installer or Servicer” for up to three months;

Installer or servicers will only be eligible if the maintenance and installation of the machinery by the sponsor company was specified in the conditions of purchase on the machinery.

  • Enter Australia as an accompanying spouse or dependant;

If the main entrant has right of entry and temporary stay for longer than 12 months.


Australian nationals may now:

  • Enter China on as a “Business Visitor” for a maximum 180 days
  • Enter China as an “Intra corporate transferee” for up to three years;

Applicable individuals include,

 1.     Executives
 2.     Specialists
 3.     Managers

  • Enter China as a Contractual Service Suppliers for up to one year within specific sectors specified elsewhere (Annex III pg 1057)
  • Enter China as an Installer and Maintainer for up to 180 days or the duration of the contract whichever comes first
  •  Enter China as an Accompanying Spouse or Dependant of an entrant who has been granted over twelve months stay.


Finally, a Committee on the Movement of Natural Persons has been established to meet within the next two years to further develop measures to promote the increased movement of natural persons between both parties, so expect more.

If you require any further advice, assistance or clarification on this or any immigration matter, do not hesitate to contact us.

Contact Newland Chase