To visit Australia, you will have to get either an eVisitor, Electronic Travel Authority, or a Visitor Visa before you travel. Only New Zealand citizens can travel to Australia without applying for prior authorisation since they can get a visa on arrival.
Luckily, Australia has streamlined visa applications and all visa types are easily obtained online. In most cases, you do not need to go to an Australian Embassy or Consulate at all.
Which Are the Australia Visitor Visa Types?
Australian Visitor Visas are divided into four types, depending on the purpose of your visit:
- Australian Tourist Visa. You apply for this type of visa if the main purpose of your trip to Australia is tourism. So, if you simply want to see the popular natural and cultural attractions, get acquainted with Australian culture and lifestyle, and just have a vacation, this is the visa you apply for.
- Australian Business Visa. You have to apply for the Australian Business Visa if you plan to go to Australia to conduct business. The type of business you can do includes signing or reviewing contracts, attending meetings, seminars, or conferences, etc.
- Australian Family-Sponsored Visa. You have to apply for a Family-Sponsored Visa if you have a family member or relative in Australia who is willing to act as your sponsor. Being a sponsor means that they are responsible for your financial expenses and must make sure that you obey Australian laws and visa rules, and that you depart the country before your visa expires.
- Australian Medical Treatment Visa. If you are travelling to Australia primarily to receive medical care or for a consultation, you have to apply for a Medical Treatment Visa.
Visitor Visa, ETA, and eVisitor Difference
The Visitor Visa, Electronic Travel Authority, and eVisitor are all short-term, tourist-type visas with the same validity period. The only difference is that the ETA and eVisitor are issued quicker and easier than the Visitor Visa, and which one you can apply for depends on nationality:
- You can get an eVisitor if you are from an EU or EFTA country or from the UK.
- You can get an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) if you are from the United States, Canada, Japan, Brunei Darussalam, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, or South Korea.
- You have to apply for a Visitor Visa if you are from any other country.
How to Apply for an Australian Visitor Visa?
There are two main ways through which you can get a Visitor Visa for Australia:
- Online, by registering with an ImmiAccount.
- On paper, by visiting an Australian visa office.
Applying online is the most common method, as it is the fastest and most convenient. You have to sign up for an ImmiAccount – which is the official Australian visa application website – attach electronic copies of your required documents, and pay the visitor visa fees. You will be notified whether your application is approved via email – save this email and you are free to travel to Australia.
You will usually only be asked to apply on paper if, for some reason, you cannot apply online or if the Australian Department of Home Affairs (who reviews visa applications) decides that you must do so. In this case, you have to contact the nearest visa office, Embassy, or Consulate and submit certified copies of your documents.
Through whichever method you apply, the application process is usually the same for all types of Visitor Visas, with the main change being the documents you are required to submit.
Who Is in Charge of Visitor Visas for Australia?
Your Visitor Visa application is reviewed by the Australian Department of Home Affairs. Regardless of how you apply, your application will be sent to them to review, and they will make the final decision.
What Documents Do I Need to Submit to Visit Australia?
The documents you are required to submit when applying for a visiting visa for Australia depend on the type of visa you need. However, there is a set of main documents for each visa type.
If you apply online, you will have to make electronic copies of your documents in PDF format. If applying on paper, you have to make “certified copies”, which means you must give the documents to someone else (from a select category of occupations) who can state that it is a true copy of your document.
How Long Until I Get the Visa?
You will usually have your visa in a few weeks, sometimes even a few days if everything is okay with your application and documents. If it is not, it can also take up to four months, if not longer. So, make sure that you apply quite a bit ahead of the time you plan to travel and that you submit all documents correctly.
Applications for medical visas will usually take less, provided that everything is in order.
How Long Can I Stay in Australia as a Visitor?
Most Australian Visitor Visas are valid for one year. During that time, you can enter Australia as many times as you wish, but each trip must be shorter than three months.
Family-Sponsored Visitor Visas, however, are usually valid for a maximum of three months (sometimes six or twelve months) and for only a single entry.
Medical treatments Visitor Visas are issued for the duration it takes to complete the treatment you are travelling for.
Can I Stay Longer?
The Australian Visitor Visas usually cannot be extended past their initial validity, since they have a Condition 8503 – No Further Stay. To extend your stay in Australia, you will need to apply for a new visa at least two weeks before your current one expires.
Can I Work in Australia with a Visitor Visa?
No, you cannot do any type of work with an Australian Visitor Visa, eVisitor, or ETA. It is illegal and if you are discovered working, you will be deported and it will affect future visa applications. You may also receive a travel ban.
If you want to work in Australia, you have to get the relevant work visa.
Can I Study in Australia with a Visitor Visa?
The Australian Visitor Visa, ETA, and eVisitor all allow you to take a short-term study course of up to three months. If your course is longer, you will have to get a study visa.