The Australian visitor visa

Many foreign nationals want to visit Australia. It is called the “lucky country” and truer words were never spoken because here in Australia we are very lucky indeed. We have a sunny climate, world famous beaches, a high standard of living and safe and diverse communities.

All foreign nationals are required to have a visa to enter Australia, even for the purposes of tourism. These visas allow the holder to enter and remain temporarily in Australia for a holiday or recreational purpose, or to visit family, or friends.

There are three main types of Australian Visitor visa: one which covers only a handful of what are considered to be “low risk” countries by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), one which covers a number of European countries, and the third category which encompasses the rest of the world. Thai, Philippino and mainland Chinese citizens, for example, come under the third category of Australian Visitor visa. As part of this third type they are required to  submit a paper application and submit a considerable amount of supporting documentation. The third category of Australian Visitor visa will allow for a stay of 3, 6 or 12 months and will be valid for single or multiple entries depending on your circumstances. The Tourist visa can also be used for other short-term non-work purposes such as studying for up to 3 months.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is concerned with the risk of a visa holder overstaying their visa, the risk that they might want to work while in Australia, and the financial capabilities of the Applicant. Unless strict guidelines are followed and all enquiries are satisfied it is highly likely that an Australian Visitor visa application will be rejected.

At Australian Visa Advice (AVA) we can assist you to obtain an Australian Visitor visa. We assist people of all nationalities. We often help clients who have had their visa applications rejected because they have tried to obtain the visa themselves and not submitted the correct documentation or whose stated intentions do not match those required in the guidelines. We at AVA are specialists at preparing Australian Visitor visas. Our years of training and experience will take the stress and confusion out of obtaining an Australian visa.

 

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Can I help my Thai/Filipina girlfriend obtain her Tourist visa to visit me in Australia?

If you are an Australian and have a girlfriend from Thailand or the Philippines (or any other country) the chances are that, at least initially, you have come to their country to visit them and not the other way around. At some stage you may decide that you want your girlfriend to visit you in Australia for a holiday or to meet your family and friends. All foreigners entering Australia need a visa to enter Australia and for some obtaining a visa can be difficult.

The level of difficulty depends firstly upon what country your girlfriend is from and secondly on the personal situation of the Applicant for the visa (your girlfriend). Citizens from countries such as Thailand and the Philippines are considered to be ‘high risk’ by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and because of this they are required to submit a paper application and provide a lot of supporting documentation. This supporting documentation has everything to do with the personal situation of the applicant for the visa. If your girlfriend is financially independent or has good savings, has a good job, has a clear visa history – any and all of these things would be likely to help her chances of obtaining an Australian visa.

Also, if, as discussed above if she has an Australian friend or boyfriend then you the Australian may be able to provide assistance to her application. You can offer to support her visit to Australia. There are many ways you can do this. You can write a letter of invitation to the Australian Embassy on behalf of your girlfriend. In this invitation, if it is appropriate, you may want to let the Embassy know that you can financially support the visit of your girlfriend. It all depends on your girlfriend and her situation – does she have enough money to show that she can support her visit to Australia or not. As part of your offer of financial support you might want to show a bank account or show that you are working and have an income.

Your letter of support or invitation may or may not carry a lot of weight depending upon your personal situation as well as your relationship with your Thai or Filipina girlfriend. Just because an Australian writes a letter of invitation for his girlfriend does not mean that she will automatically get her visa. A letter of invitation needs to be structured carefully to put forward the strongest possible case for your girlfriends visit. Because of the large numbers of applications refused by the Australian Embassy in Bangkok and Manila we strongly recommend that you consult a visa expert to assist you so you and your girlfriend can submit a very strong application and give her the best chance of success.

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Are Filipinos discriminated against when applying for an Australian visa?

Many Filipino citizens will have experienced difficulties in obtaining a visa to Australia. Whether they are applying for a Tourist, Student, Work, Fiancé or Marriage visa – many applicants will have found the procedure complicated, time consuming and expensive. They have to fill in lengthy application forms, provide considerable supporting documentation and undergo a number of financial, medical and character checks. And to compound things, after going through the entire process, a high percentage of applications are refused leaving the applicant frustrated and unsure as to what to do next.

In contrast to the above, persons holding passports from countries such as Japan, the USA, the United Kingdom and France can obtain Tourist visas (called ETA or eVisitor) relatively easily, more cheaply, for longer periods and sometimes do not even need to submit a paper application. Why is this? Are citizens from the Philippines being discriminated against when applying for an Australian visa?

The Philippines is classed as a ‘high risk’ country by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). This results in different sub-categories of holiday and other visas and different procedures for processing of these different sub-categories. The reason behind this is not arbitrary or based on some unjustified bias or discriminatory policy. The Philippines is categorized as ‘high risk’ because historically many Filipino citizens have either overstayed their Australian visa or not complied with one or a number of the other conditions attached to their visa. For example, working in Australia while on a Tourist visa is prohibited and many Filipinos have been caught in breach of this condition. The Philippines is not alone in being classified as ‘high risk’. Many countries such as Thailand, mainland China and Vietnam are also classed in the same category.

DIAC has concerns about whether a person applying for a Tourist visa is a genuine Tourist and whether they have strong incentives to return to their country of origin. The fact that the economic situation and standard of living in the Philippines is lower than that of Australia causes DIAC to have potential concerns about the true motives of some persons applying for an Australian Tourist visa. However, it is important to realise that there is no real discrimination and as long as you meet the criteria for the grant of a Tourist or any other Australian visa you will be granted your visa regardless of whether you come from the Philippines or any other country. The major concern when applying for an Australian visa as a Philippines passport holder is the complexity of the application process.

Because applying for a visa is so complicated we do advise citizens of the Philippines to speak with a migration agent like myself. Adding value to your application through the skill and experience I have in preparing Australian visa applications almost always makes the difference between success and failure.

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Prospective Marriage, Marriage and De Facto visas – how do they differ from each another?

This article is for any Australian citizen or permanent resident who has a Thai, Filipina, etc. girlfriend and are considering applying for a permanent family visa for her to live in Australia with them. While this article may be of help to the reader in explaining some of the key differences between the above visas, you should still discuss with your Migration Agent what option is best to suit your particular situation and needs.

The Prospective Marriage visa is also commonly known as the Fiancé visa. It is a visa designed for couples that are either engaged or are going to get engaged. They must be engaged at the time of submission of the Application. Once the Prospective Marriage visa is submitted and Processed the couple must then travel to Australia and get married. They must get married within 9 months of the date of grant of the Prospective marriage visa. The couple does not have to get married in Australia, but they do have to enter Australia before they get married. Once married, the couple can then apply for the Partner (by marriage) visa.

One of the key differences between the Prospective Marriage visa and the other 2 visas is that there is an extra step with the former visa. The Prospective Marriage visa leads to the Partner (by marriage) visa otherwise known as the Marriage visa. The Marriage visa and the Partner (by de facto) visa (otherwise known as the De Facto visa) are visas that can be applied for on their own without any extra visas being required. Typically the Fiancé/Marriage visa combination is chosen in situations where the relationship is objectively young, and this allows for the relationship to build before the Marriage visa is submitted. It is also the option chosen when engaged couples want to wait before they get married.

As mentioned above, the Marriage visa is either applied for after the Fiancé visa is granted, or on its own. If a couple wants to apply for a Marriage visa on its own they must first be married. The marriage must be recognised under Australian law as a legal marriage. The Marriage visa can be applied for either in Australia or overseas.

The key difference between the Marriage and the De Facto visas are that a couple will not be married when they apply for the De Facto visa. Rather, they need to be in de facto relationship. There are strict rules that define what qualifies as a de facto relationship. No all couples want to get married and so the De Facto visa would be the suitable option for them. As Australia does not currently recognise same sex marriage, the De Facto visa option is the only option available for same sex couples.

From the above you can see that they are a number of options for you and your partner depending on your relationship history and future plans. Obviously, you also need to look at all of the other requirements for these visas to see whether you will qualify before choosing between one of the options.

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Living in Australia with my Thai girlfriend

Many Australians travel to Thailand for a holiday. It is not unusual for an Australian man to meet a Thai lady and begin a relationship or even fall in love. Thai women are lovely people, quietly spoken and very pretty. When their holiday comes to an end the Australian often wants the relationship to continue but he has to home to Australia to work. Even if he can return to Thailand it is often a long time “between drinks” and he can normally only stay for a few weeks of his holidays. A better solution is for him to bring his girlfriend out to Australia for a visit.

If you are an Australian man in this situation – if both she and you meet the criteria for a visa (see below), and have professional assistance, one can usually obtain a Tourist visa for your girlfriend to visit you in Australia. That way you get to spend quality time together, you can still work at the same time and you avoid accommodation costs that you would be up for if you were staying in Thailand.

Bringing your Thai girlfriend out to Australia also allows her to see a little bit of Australia and she how she settles in. This is always something important to consider when one is thinking about a long term relationship, or at least when one is testing the waters.

Unfortunately, Thai’s are not in the same position as Australians. Australians can simply hop on a plane and fly to Thailand and obtain a visa on arrival for 30 days. Thai’s, on the other hand, must obtain a visa for Australia before they fly to Australia. Thailand is considered to be a “high risk” country by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). To obtain even a Tourist visa they must fill in a paper application and provide a lot of supporting documentation. Even then, the applications are not structured in the right way and a high percentage of applications are refused by DIAC because the applicant for the visa is considered at risk to overstay their visa, work, etc.

A skilled and experience Migration Agent can help you to both structure and organise your application in such a way as to give your Thai girlfriend her best chance of success. At Australian Visa Advice we have helped many Australians to bring their Thai girlfriends to Australia for a visit. Many of these relationships have ended up becoming long term, with the couple often getting married and starting a life together in Australia. Our advice and assistance has saved these couples, time effort and avoided the heartbreak of having an application refused.

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How to Get an Australian Visa – Applying the Easy Way

The Easy way to apply for and get an Australian visa is to talk to a skilled and experienced Migration Agent. He or she can advise you about the 100’s of visa options available and help you choose the visa that is best for you or your girlfriend, fiancé, wife or partner.

Australian migration law is complex and many often underestimate what is involved in applying even for a Tourist visa. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) provides limited assistance and as a result most people that apply for an Australian visa by themselves find the process difficult and confusing. They often submit an application that is lacking some important document or is prepared in a way that at odds with the stated intentions of the visa. The application may then be refused. A very high percentage of Tourist visa applications are refused.

When you use a trusted migration agent you get their years of experience at preparing visas at your fingertips. There are also many internal departmental policies and guidelines with respect to the grant of visas that migration agents have available to them. This allows them to be able to guide in all aspects of your application.

This is still to say nothing about more complex visas such as Fiance or Partner visas, which are far more demanding in terms of the application process. These 2 visas, for example, if granted give full work rights and lead to permanent residency. It is easy to see why the Australian Government checks both the “Applicant” and their Australian “Sponsor” carefully before making a decision. The visa application fee alone for these 2 visas is between $2000 – 3000AUD. You want to make sure that you submit a strong application and get it right the first time. Furthermore, the processing time for these visas can be 10-12 months if applied offshore in Thailand or the Philippines.

One can soon start to see why it is very effective to use a skilled migration agent. They can save you a lot of time, money and effort. At Australian Visa Advice we start by giving you a full and free assessment and explain what visa is best for you and why. You will then be in a strong position to make an informed and low risk decision on your Australian visa. If you then choose to use our services for the visa process you can feel relaxed and confident about your or your loved ones application and know that it has the best possible chance of success.  This is the easy way to apply for and get an Australian visa.

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What ‘exactly’ is a Tourist Visa

Many people approach me asking me “what exactly is an Australian Tourist visa?” They ask me who the visa is for and what are the exact purposes of the visa. I initially say it is for foreign nationals and for tourism purposes! J  But then I explain to them that it can be used for a variety of reasons. A Tourist visa can be used to visit family, spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends or just friends that are in Australia; it can be used for short term study purposes, and of course it can be used for general tourism activities.

There are a few different classes of Tourist visa that are available depending, generally speaking, on the country of the passport you hold. For most EU members and some other countries such as the USA, Japan, South Korea, and a few others, there are options to apply for a Tourist visa without submitting a paper application. For most countries, however, the citizens are required to submit a paper application and submit supporting documentation. Thailand and the Philippines come under this last category. I will discuss this last category below as it applied to most people.

Tourist visas to visit Australia are available in 3, 6 or 12 month options depending on your visa needs and your ability to support yourself while in Australia. Tourist visas will usually allow the holder to study for up to 3 months but not to work. All persons need to make a separate application – a family or group of friends cannot put in 1 combined application.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) makes a number of enquiries about the ‘Applicant’ for a Tourist visa. They look at the medical history, character, financial position and whether the ‘Applicant’ works or not. DIAC is concerned with whether the ‘Applicant’ is a genuine Tourist or whether they have other unstated motives, like to work. They are also concerned with the whether the ‘Applicant’ is likely to overstay their visa or not.

Once an application is prepared and submitted, the processing time is generally less than for most other visas. Depending on the Embassy, it can take anywhere from 3 days to 1 month. Unfortunately, if your visa is not granted, the decision cannot be appealed, but you can always make a new application in the future. It is always recommended that you consult a skilled and experienced Migration Agent to advise you about your Australian Tourist visa.

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Can your Filipina Girlfriend Apply for an Australian Tourist Visa?

If you are an Australian and you have a girlfriend from the Philippines (a “Filipina”) at some stage you may want to invite her out to Australia to spend some time with you. For the citizens of a few select countries it is possible to apply for a Tourist visa to visit Australia relatively easily. However, for most countries, including the Philippines, applicants have to fill in a paper application and provide a considerable amount of supporting documentation. Unfortunately, it can be a very complicated process and a high percentage of applications are refused a visa. Below I will explain the rules and broad criteria of selection so that you can more easily determine whether your Filipina girlfriend might be eligible for a Tourist visa. It is very important to us that our clients feel both confident and comfortable with the whole visa process.

Whether your Filipina girlfriend will be able to obtain an Australian Tourist visa will depend on a number of factors. These include whether she has any prior Australian visa history, her character – including any criminal record, and her financial position. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is always concerned with whether she is a genuine tourist or not and whether the applicant for a visa is likely to overstay their visa or not. DIAC wants to know many details about her, including whether she is working or studying. The Australian government is also concerned about the medical history and current condition of the applicant.

Through your relationship with your Filipina girlfriend you can act as your girlfriends sponsor. This means that you can offer to provide financial and other support to her. This can certainly improve her chances when she might otherwise not meet the legal criteria for the grant of the visa. DIAC will look at your relationship and assess its nature and longevity.

The length of a Tourist visas can vary. It is possible to apply for a very short stay of a few days or a long visit of up to 1 year. Visa applications for longer periods are obviously assessed with a consideration for a greater financial need. Holders of an Australian Tourist visa are not allowed to work.

If your girlfriend has any dependent children that you both would like to bring over, it is possible to add them as a secondary applicant. However, they will usually have to submit a separate application.

As a final note, it is very important to take time to assess whether your Filipina girlfriend might be eligible for a Tourist visa, and if so, to then make sure that you both include all the necessary supporting documentation. Lack of even one important document can result in significant delays or even the application being refused.

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Migrating to Australia with my Girlfriend

If you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident and your girlfriend is a foreign national you may be able to assist her to migrate to Australia through some form of family migration. If you and your girlfriend are both foreign nationals it may still be possible both of you to migrate to Australia but the pathway and the requirements will be different and they are not going to be covered in this article.

Whether your foreign girlfriend can migrate permanently to Australia will depend on factors which relate only to her, factors which relate only to you, and also factors which relate to both of you as a couple. Achieving Australian migration for a foreign national is not a quick, easy, cheap or simple procedure. However, it you both meet the criteria it can be achieved with planning, preparation, patience and perseverance.

 

There are a few different ways of achieving family migration depending on your situation. A Partner visa is an Australian visa that will lead to permanent residence for the ‘applicant’. A Partner visa can be by marriage or by de facto. A Prospective Marriage visa or ‘Fiancé’ visa is another pathway that will eventually lead to permanent residence in Australia. So, if you and your girlfriend are considering getting married or engaged or are in a de facto relationship, she may qualify in terms of the status of the relationship. There are strict rules which define what is considered to be a de facto relationship according to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). Also, just because you and your girlfriend get married or engaged does not necessarily mean that she will qualify. DIAC looks at many aspects of the relationship, like it’s duration, how much actual face to face time you have spent together – they are concerned with whether it is a genuine or continuing relationship or not.

DIAC looks to see if she can support herself financially, or if you, as her ‘sponsor’ can support her. They also look at her character and her current medical condition and medical history. DIAC will also look at her family and any dependents that she might have.

You and your girlfriend will need to fill out a number of forms and provide substantial supporting documentation. Once you have prepared everything you can submit the application. How long it will take to process will depend on where the application is being processed and from which country your girlfriend is from. Countries that are considered low risk (like the USA or UK) are processed considerably faster than applications from countries that are considered to be high risk (like Thailand or the Philippines).

We wish you the best of luck with your application. The main thing that I would stress is that you make sure you determine whether you and your girlfriend would qualify for one of the family visas before you undertake what can be a lengthy, expensive and complex process.

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Australian Work and Holiday Visa for Your Thai Girlfriend

Australia offers a great scheme for young people (18 – 30 years of age) from Thailand which allows them to travel to Australia, and over a period of 1 year, have a holiday and also work when they want to. The Australian Work and Holiday visa allows you to stay in Australia for up to 12 months and work while in Australia. You are also allowed to study for up to 4 months.

A Thai citizen with an Australian Work and Holiday visa can enter Australia at anytime within 12 months after the grant of the visa, and can leave and come back to Australia as many times as they want within the visa validity period.

A citizen must meet certain requirements to be eligible for this visa. He or she must:

-        Be between 18-30 years old at the time of the application;

-        Meet certain educational requirements (Tertiary qualifications of Diploma and up – Graduate Certificate, Degree, Masters, Doctorate);

-        Have functional English;

-        Obtain a letter of support from their government (this letter is issued by the Office of Welfare Promotion, Protection and Empowerment of Vulnerable Groups in Bangkok);

-        Not travel with any dependent children;

-        Meet character, health and financial requirements.

The Thai citizen must also not work for any employer for longer than 6 months.

The annual limit on the number of Australian Work and Holiday that will be issued to Thai citizens is 500.

It may also be possible to extend your stay in Australia. If your Australian Work and Holiday visa does not have a ‘No Further Stay’ condition you can apply for another visa while in Australia. If your visa is granted with a ‘No Further Stay’ condition you will be advised of this in your visa grant letter. Work and Holiday visa holders without a ‘No Further Stay’ condition are only able to apply for a limited number of other visas from within Australia. If the condition is applied to your visa you can always apply for another visa for Australia when you return to Thailand.

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