The Australia visa you apply for depends on the purpose of your visit – whether it is for tourism, business, work, studying, or to visit a family member. Passport holders of many countries can obtain a visa very easily online, while others may have to submit a paper application at an Embassy or Consulate.

What Is an Australian Visa?

An Australian Visa is a permit that allows you to travel to Australia for a predetermined period of time. Unlike most other countries, Australia does not issue visa stamps or labels on your passport. Instead, your visa privileges are recorded electronically on an online database and when you travel to Australia, the immigration officer will check the database to learn whether you have a visa.

Do I Need a Visa for Australia?

Apart from New Zealanders (who can get a visa on arrival), everyone else has to apply for a visa or authorization before they travel to Australia. For short-term visits, you can get an eVisitor, an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), or a visitor visa, depending on your nationality:

eVisitorElectronic Travel Authority (ETA)Visitor Visa (Tourist Stream, Subclass 600)
European Union countriesBrunei DarussalamAll other countries.
AndorraCanada
IcelandHong Kong (SAR PRC)
LiechtensteinJapan
MonacoMalaysia
NorwaySingapore
San MarinoSouth Korea
SwitzerlandUnited States
United Kingdom
Vatican City

On the other hand, for long-term purposes such as studying or working, everyone besides New Zealanders will have to get the relevant visa.

Australia Visa Policy for New Zealanders

Citizens of New Zealand can visit, conduct business, study, work, and live in Australia without applying for a prior visa. As a New Zealander, you are eligible for the Special Category Visa (subclass 444), which you can get upon arrival.

After five years of living in Australia, you are eligible to apply for permanent residency, if you meet all other requirements, such as income and health and security checks. But you may continue to live in Australia even with just an SCV as it does not have a maximum duration.

How Can I Get an Australian Visa?

You can get an Australian visa online or through an Australian Embassy/Consulate, depending on your nationality:

  • You apply for the eVisitor through the Australian Department of Home Affairs’ online service.
  • You apply for the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) through the official ETA portal of the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
  • You may apply for an Australian visa either online or in-person at an Embassy or Consulate.

Do I Need to Submit Original Documents?

You do not need to submit your original documents for an Australian visa. If you are applying online, you have to scan your documents and attach them as electronic files. If you are applying on paper, then you should submit certified copies. This means that you make a copy of your document, send it to someone who can “certify” it for you, and they must write “This is a certified true copy of the original as sighted by me”.

Not everyone can certify your documents, however. It has to be an Australian citizen or a non-Australian who works in one of the “eligible professions”, like doctors, judges, clerks of court, bank officers, police officers, etc.

See the required documents for an Australian visa and who is eligible to certify them for you.

When Should I Apply For a Visa?

The time when you have to apply for an Australian visa depends on the type of visa you are applying for:

  • If you are applying for a tourist visa, you should apply at least a month before you plan to travel, but you may think of giving it more time. Even though most applications are resolved in a few weeks, some tourist visa applications have taken more than four months.
  • If you are applying for an eVisitor or ETA, then you can apply about a week before your trip and you should be fine.
  • If you are applying for a long-term visa, such as a work visa, you will have to start the process as soon as possible since they can take months to over a year to complete.

Who Issues Australian Visas?

The authority that assesses and decides all visa applications is the Australian Department of Home Affairs.

Australian Visa Types

Australian visas are divided into the following categories:

Can I Appeal a Visa Refusal?

If your Australian visa is rejected, then you can make an appeal to review the decision to the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Make sure you appeal as soon as possible after you receive your rejection letter, as it will not be considered if you wait too long. You usually have 7 to 28 days to make an appeal.

Your visa rejection letter will let you know whether you are even eligible for an appeal and if yes, how and when you can do so.

After You Get the Visa

If you receive an Australian tourist visa, you will get a Visa Grant Number. You can use this number to check your visa’s details on the VEVO system (Visa Entitlement Verification Online). You will not get a visa stamp on your passport because all your information is available on an online database.

You should, however, print out the visa grant notice to have with you when you travel. This letter has all the information you need for your visa. The immigration officer at the airport will check your visa status on the online database using your ImmiAccount or visa number.

How Long Is the Processing Time for an Australian Visa?

The processing time for an Australian visa depends on the visa type. Generally, most tourist stream visa applications are processed within a few weeks, to a maximum of 4 months – but it could also take only a few days if everything is in order.

As for long-term visa applications, it can take several months to more than a year, depending on the visa.

Do I Have to Provide Biometrics For my Visa Application?

You need to submit your biometrics (visa picture and fingerprints)  if:

  • You apply for a visa for which biometrics are mandatory.
  • You apply from a country from which biometrics are mandatory.

Do I Need Travel Health Insurance for Australia?

For long-term visas, you are always required to have proper Australian health insurance coverage. For visitor visas, on the other hand, it is not usually obligatory to get health insurance, but the Australian government strongly advises travellers to do so.

How Long Can I Stay in Australia With a Valid Visa?

If you are visiting Australia as a tourist or for other short-term purposes, you can usually stay for up to three months at a time:

  • An eVisitor and ETA is valid for one year from the date of issue. During this year, you can enter the country multiple times as long as you don’t stay longer than three months each visit.
  • A Tourist Stream Visa is issued for up to three, six, or twelve months.

Work, study, and other long-term visas can be issued from a few months for up to five years, depending on your particular circumstances.

How Long Do You Have To Leave Australia Before Returning?

If you have an ETA or eVisitor, there are really no rules on how long you need to be outside Australia before you return. You must just take care to leave the country before your 3 months are up. Once you re-enter, you can stay for another three months, provided that you do not exceed your visa’s one-year validity.

Also remember that you are not allowed to work in Australia with an ETA, eVisitor, or a tourist visa and that you cannot pursue a study course that’s longer than three months.

Can I Extend an Australian Visa?

If you are already in Australia and you want to stay longer, you can apply for a new visa at least two weeks before your current one expires – as long as your visa does not have a “No Further Stay” notice. This means that you cannot extend or apply for a new visa if you have entered using a tourist visa (which has a “No Further Stay”), unless you have extraordinary circumstances.

Once you apply for a different type of visa, you will receive a Bridging Visa, which allows you to stay in Australia until the Immigration Authority makes a decision.

Read: Australia Visa Extension

How Long Can You Stay After Your Visa Expires?

Unless you have applied for another type of visa, then you are not allowed to stay in Australia after the expiry of your visa. If you overstay, even by just a few days, then it will go on your immigration record and it could affect your future visa applications.

If you overstay your visa for longer than 28 days, you could be subject to an interview by immigration authorities on your way out, and you may even get a three-year travel ban.

Naturally, there are exceptions if you have a valid reason for having overstayed.

How Much Does an Australian Visa Cost?

The fees for an Australian visa depend on the visa type, method of application, and the duration of your stay:

  • Visit visa (tourist stream): AUD 145
  • eVisitor and ETA: Free of charge, except for a AUD 20 service fee
  • Student visa: AUD 620
  • Training visa: AUD 310
  • Work visa: AUD 310 to AUD 4,045 depending on the visa

Can I Get a Refund If I Withdraw My Visa Application?

If you withdraw your Australian visa application, you are most likely not going to get a refund. Someone who withdraws their visa application can only be reimbursed in one of the following instances:

  • The applicant or a family member of the applicant has passed away.
  • The applicant has received another visa of the same category.
  • Only for parent visa applications: The applicant has applied for a different type of Australian parent visa, and wants to hear a decision on the second application.

If your visa application is denied, you will not receive a refund either.

How Can I Check My Visa Validity And Conditions?

You can use the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO)  to see the details and conditions of your visa. To access VEVO, you need one of the following:

  • Transaction Reference Number (TRN) – this is the number you get when you start the online visa application.
  • Visa Grant Number – you receive this number if your visa application is successful.
  • Visa Evidence Number – you will get this number if for some reason, you do have a visa label attached to your passport.

You will also have to enter the following details: your birthdate, passport number, and country of nationality.

How Do I Find Out About The Progress of My Application?

If you apply online, you can track your application status through the ImmiAccount. As the Department of Home Affairs assesses your application, they will update the process on your account, as follows:

  • Incomplete – if you have not yet finished your visa application.
  • Ready to submit – if you have completed the application, but have not submitted yet.
  • Submitted – the application is submitted.
  • Received – the DHA has received your application.
  • Initial assessment – the DHA is assessing your application.
  • Further assessment – if the DHA requested you to submit additional information.
  • Finalised – a decision has been made and you will soon be notified by email or post.

How Can I Pay For My Visa?

When you apply online, you pay your visa fee through your credit or debit card (such as MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club or JCB). If you apply at an Embassy or Consulate, the office will notify you how to pay the fee.

What If I Make a Mistake During My Application?

As you submit your visa application online, you have to make sure you do not submit it with any mistakes. If you notice a mistake before finalizing your application and paying for the visa, you can simply modify it. If you do not notice until after you submit, then you will likely have to resubmit the application, which means you also have to pay the visa fee again.

The good thing is that before you submit your application definitely, you will be able to review it one more time and you can correct any mistakes you spot.

Remember that if you have made a mistake when offering the details of your passport, it could cause problems for you at the border.