Tourist visa to travel to Australia
You may find the above statement too simplistic. But be that as it may, it’s still worth stating, especially in the case of Australia, because there are actually two types of citizens that don’t need a visa to enter and leave the country. These are the Australian citizens themselves and the passport holders of New Zealand.
Needless to say, if you are neither of the two, you need a valid visa to enter, stay and leave the country. Moreover, if your intention to visit Australia is to spend time with your relatives, for a needed holiday or for some business transactions, the tourist visa is right for you.
You know Nowak Migration can assist with all your tourist visa matters, right? Do yourself a favor and give us a call to discuss your situation.
Tourist visa versus visitor visa
Before we go any further, it’s worth to understand that when considering a visit to Australia as a tourist, you’ll have to apply for a tourist stream of a visitor visa. For many tourist visa and visitor visa have the same meaning, which is not entirely correct. In the past — particularly before 23 March 2013 — non-citizens who intended to come and stay in any part of the country for a short period of time applied for tourist visas. But effective that date, these tourist visas were replaced by a visitor visa.
What happens to the tourist visa now? It now forms part of the bigger umbrella of the visitor visas. Subclass 600, for example, has four streams and tourist stream is one of them, the others being business visitor stream, sponsored family stream and approved destination status stream.
What can you do in Australia with a visitor visa?
Below are short descriptions of each of the four streams of visitor visa SC 600 and the activities that you can do in Australia with any of them:
It is intended for you if you travel to Australia for a holiday, leisure or to see family and friends. There’s an important note here: If you choose to apply for this while you’re in Australia, you must be in the country when the visa is decided. On the other hand, if you apply for it while you’re outside of the country, you must remain outside of the country when the visa is decided.
Business Visitor Stream
If, however, you come for a short visit to Australia for business-related trips like attending a conference, carrying out business transactions or probably exploring employment opportunities, your application falls under this stream. You apply for this visa while you are still outside of Australia.
Sponsored Family Stream
If you happen to have a family or close relatives living in the country and you want to visit them, you can obtain your visitor’s visa through this stream. This requires a sponsor for you who might be asked to produce a bond of up to $15,000 which may be forfeited if you choose not to leave the country. You apply for this type of visa when you are still outside Australia.
Approved Destination Status Stream
This is intended for the citizens of the People’s Republic of China who are visiting Australia as part of a tour group. Visa in this stream is obtained while the applicant is outside Australia.
What you cannot do in Australia with a visitor visa?
While you can undertake the abovementioned activities in the country with a visitor visa, you cannot engage in employment nor provide your services to an organization or business entity here; neither can you sell goods or services to the public.
What type of visitor visa should you apply for?
Australia has a long list of visas available for you to choose from. The type of visa you may apply for depends on the length of your stay, the passport you’re holding and the purpose of your visit.
Here are some of them:
Visitor visa subclass 601
Visitor visa subclass 601, also called Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), allows you to enter Australia as many times as you want for up to 12 months if you come here as a tourist or intend to attend to business transactions. Moreover, you are permitted to stay here for up to three months during each visit.
You must be outside of the country when you apply for it and when the visa is decided.
This is one visa that makes use of the advancement in technology. ETA is electronically linked to your passport so that the staff at airlines, travel agencies as well as border agencies of the country can see it.
Again, this is not available to all non-citizens of Australia. Only the citizens and passport holders of the countries listed below can avail of this, namely:
Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong (SAR), Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Portugal, Republic of San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, The Netherlands, United Kingdom – British citizen, United Kingdom – British national (overseas), United States, Vatican City.
If you come from any of these countries, then you can obtain an ETA provided you satisfy the requirements.
Visitor visa subclass 651
Yet another type of visa that lets you enter and stay in the country is visitor visa subclass 651, also called eVisitor Visa. This is practically the same as the ETA in terms of the privileges that it affords to you while you’re here in the country. In fact many applicants find it confusing as to which type of visa to choose between the two.
The minor difference lies in the list of select countries whose citizens or passport holders are eligible to apply for it. Also this visa is free of charge, whereas the ETA has a minor fee of AUD20.
Visitor visa subclass 600
If, however, you do not come from any of the countries whose citizens are eligible for either visa subclass 601 or visa subclass 651, the visitor visa subclass 600 is yours for the taking. This allows you to come to Australia, either for recreation and leisure, family visit, business trip or for a tour organized by a registered travel agent from the People’s Republic of China. You can stay here for up to three, six or 12 months.
This visa requires an application fee that ranges from AUD140 to AUD1,020.
Visitor visa (subclass 600) Frequent Traveller stream
There’s also another variety of the visitor visa subclass 600. This is called the Frequent Traveller stream. It is reserved for you if you travel frequently to Australia for short stays aimed at recreation and leisure, visit to family members and friends or for business.
This was launched in December 2016 as a test for passport holders from the People’s Republic of China, who are applying from within China.
What’s good about this visa is it can be granted for a period of up to 10 years. This, however, requires a higher visa application charge than the other visitor visa streams.
You can apply for it online.
Visa subclass 602
Australian visa subclass 602 permits you to travel to the country either to obtain medical treatment for certain health conditions or to support someone who needs medical treatment.
You may be able to avail of this type of visa if you have prior appointment either for medical consultation or for medical care in the country. For that reason, you must be coming here as an organ donor for a certain patient. If not, you should be coming here to receive a donated organ from outside Australia or from a non-citizen or non-permanent resident.
Visitor visa for parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents
There’s good news for you if you happen to be a parent of an Australian citizen or a permanent resident. You can apply for a visitor visa with longer stay validity if you lodge your application outside of Australia.
You can avail of any of the two lengths of stay, whichever is granted to you by the department depending on your case:
- Visitor visa with a validity of up to five years giving you the opportunity to stay here for up to 12 months on each entry if you are in the Parent Visa (subclass 103) queue
- Visitor visa with a validity of up to three years with 12 months stay on each entry if you are not in the Parent Visa queue
Apart from complying with the other tourist visa requirements, you will also need to:
- maintain health insurance coverage for any healthcare expenses you may incur during your stay here
- refrain from staying in Australia for more than 12 months in any 18 month period
Tourist visa Australia processing time
It can take from a few seconds to 3 weeks (in general) for a decision about your visa to be made by a case officer. Various factors affect the processing of your visa application, which may include the following:
- The completeness of the documents supporting your application
- Your promptness in responding to requests for additional information
- The time it takes to undertake required checks on information that you have provided
- The time it takes for information to get to the department, especially those related to health, character and national security
- The availability of places in the country for the Migration Programme
- The kind of information and documentation that you provide at the time of lodgement influences the department’s decision whether to grant or refuse your application
We highly suggest that you lodge your visa application well in advance of your travel date and refrain from making any travel arrangements until your application has been granted.
Once you have your visa with you, one of the common questions that you may ask is this: Can I extend my stay in Australia after I have been granted one and have entered the country?
The answer is yes: You can extend your stay here provided you comply with the following criteria:
- You have faithfully followed the conditions stipulated in the granting of the visa.
- You pass the character and health criteria.
- You intend to comply with any conditions subject to which the visa is to be approved
- You must also demonstrate the following prerequisites:
- That your visit is genuine and that you have sufficient funds to support the proposed length of stay
- That because of financial difficulties brought about by unexpected occurrences since entering the country, you become a charge on public funds and cannot leave the country for reasons that are out of your control, thus you need to find a work here
- If you are a student who has completed your studies and wishes to remain here as a visitor
- If you are here on the back of a working holiday visa
Visitor visa rejection
It goes without saying that not all applications for a visitor visa are approved. Many can be rejected.
One of the main reasons why the Australian government turns down your visitor visa application is when they find out that you do not intend to visit the country in accordance with the type of visa that you’re holding. Hence, there’s an element of bad faith or probable dishonesty on your part here.
When doubts arise, the concerned authorities are obliged to do whatever they can to resolve these doubts before they decide on your application.
There are even instances when they ask you to sign some sort of pledge that upon arrival in the country, you have to have in your possession a return ticket or an onward passage ticket and sufficient funds to keep you afloat during your stay here. You’re going to declare further that you will not engage in formal studies or find work, and neither will you apply to become a permanent resident.
Generally speaking, if you are in a possession of a visitor’s visa, the concerned authorities will grant you immigration clearance. It may even be possible for you to obtain what we call a “border visa” upon arrival if you forgot to acquire one before flying here; granting also that the proper authorities are able to determine that you are a genuine visitor and should have been granted a visitor’s visa anyway if you had applied for it at your place of origin.
Unfortunate circumstances, however, happen to a lot of would-be visitors of the country. The authorities ask thousands of people per year to leave the country immediately even before they could get out of the airport premises because immigration people found them or their documents dubious.
As a result, the immigration department refuses to give them clearance; if they have their visas with them, these are canceled and they’re sent back to their place of origin on the same aircraft that brought them here.
Australian tourist visa conditions
The list of visa conditions below may help you determine the things that you must and must not do in the country while in the possession of certain types of visa. Here are the condition numbers and their descriptions:
Condition 8101 – refrain from working
Condition 8115 – refrain from working apart from business visitor activities
Condition 8201 – three-month limit on study or training
Condition 8207 – refrain from studying or training
Condition 8503 — no stay extension
Condition 8530 — must observe itinerary
Condition 8531 — must go out beyond the visa period
Condition 8558 – not become a resident
Condition 8501 – keep a health insurance
There are still many ways and many visa subclasses available for you if you decide to come to Australia either to stay here permanently or temporarily. As we said earlier, there are more than 110 different classes of Australian visa. We just choose to discuss the ones that are often availed of and thus popular.
If in case your personal circumstances don’t fit the ones that we have just talked about here, please don’t hesitate to contact anyone of us at Nowak Migration. We’re pretty sure there’s always a subclass of visa that’s fit for you or your family.
It’s quite easy to get in touch with us. You can pick up your phone and dial the numbers found on our website. If not, you can send us an email containing your concerns, or you can drop us a message at our website or Facebook page.
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