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Visiting Australia – how hard is it?

Dominic Cookman

17 Feb 2020

Topics

  • Migration

Australia is one of the world’s best tourist destinations, with great natural beauty, and a friendly and cosmopolitan culture. But the recent tragic bushfires have no doubt caused many people to consider whether they should postpone or cancel their visit to Australia. This would be a mistake! More than ever, Australia needs and wants international visitors.

But only if they hold a valid visa first.

Visitor visas

Applicants for visitor visas are broadly divided into two categories: ‘ETA eligible’ and ‘Others’. ETA stands for Electronic Travel Authority. It is electronically linked to the visitor’s passport and is for short-term stays for tourism or business visitor activity.

An application for an ETA visitor visa can be made online or through a travel agent. ETA eligible applications are simple, streamlined and straightforward, and typically don’t require input from a lawyer or other professionals. Unless there is some previous unacceptable migration or criminal history, it is rare for an ETA application to be refused.

There are currently 33 countries that are ETA eligible; these include Canada, USA, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

Other options

If you are not a citizen of an ETA-eligible country, then the process of applying to come to Australia can be more involved, and more uncertain. Assessing officers at the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will always scrutinise an application carefully to convince themselves that the applicant has sufficient incentive to return to their home country at the conclusion of their visit. The DHA has a persistent fear that many short-term visitor visa applicants will use this visa as a springboard to try to stay in Australia, either legally or illegally. (We will maintain a dignified silence here about whether or not this fear is justified).

Snedden Hall & Gallop has been consulted by visa applicants from Albania, China and Samoa (among others) who have been refused a visitor visa because the decision-maker was not convinced that they ‘genuinely intend to stay temporarily in Australia for the purpose for which the visa is granted’. This is most distressing, particularly when the purpose of the trip is to visit or be reunited with family and friends.

Providing evidence

It surprises many applicants that they are asked to provide details of their finances, employment, family ties and business interests simply to make a short-term visit to Australia, but this information is all directed towards an assessment of the ‘temporary stay’ criterion.

In order to give yourself or your family member the best possible chance of obtaining a successful visitor visa, some evidence that you may wish to prepare for the application might include:

  • A letter from your employer confirming you are expected back at work on a certain date
  • A current bank statement showing that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay
  • Copies of deeds to property that you own in your home country
  • A signed statement from you outlining your plans for your visit, and the reasons why you plan to return to your home country, as well as details of immediate family members who remain in your home country.

We have recently assisted an applicant who was at first attempt refused a visitor visa by DHA to obtain that visa with the use of acceptable evidence.

How can we help?

Snedden Hall & Gallop can assist you in preparing the best possible visa application, so that you can have a trouble-free visit to our wonderful country. You can contact our Migration Law team on 02 62385 8000 or by email.

*The content of this article is provided for information purposes only, and we do not accept any liability for reliance upon the information contained in this article.  This information cannot be relied upon as legal advice.