Dreaming of seeing up-close the Sydney Opera House, hiking the Blue Mountains, scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, taking a picture of a kangaroo or koala bear or chilling along the shores of Bondi beach or Manly beach? No problem! With the advent of online visa processing and the visa-label free policy of Australia, travelling to this huge land mass of a country that is also coincidentally a continent had never been this easy. Here is the step-by-step guide that we took in securing our tourist visas.
whERE SHOULD I START?
Though it is not advisable to book your flight prior getting a visa, I think that securing one will be of huge help in your visa application as it immediately establishes your intention of going back to your home country. You must only become aware of the possibility that you may not be granted a visa. In our case, we booked a flight prior applying for a visa because we want to take advantage of the promo fare of a particular local airline company. We are aware of the consequence but we still took a chance.
Moreover, you also have to make sure that your passport is still valid for at least 6 months on the date of your foreseen travel. If not, have your passport renewed first before proceeding.
what visa should i apply for?
There are three visas that you can apply for online to visit Australia for tourism or business visitor activities. They are the following:
For us Filipinos, our passport is eligible for the Visitor visa (subclass 600) application. This visa lets you visit Australia for up to three, six or 12 months.
so, we already established what visa to get, what now?
You may now lodge an application online through an ImmiAccount. If you do not have yet an ImmiAccount, you will be prompted to create one. You may go through this website to start creating your own ImmiAccount: https://online.immi.gov.au/.
Once there, you will be required to key in a few details about yourself. One of the vital information that you will have to put in there is your email address so make sure that you will input one that is still active.
After completing all the required information, you will then be prompted to pay for the application charge (visa application fee) using a credit card. The fee will range from AUD 130 to AUD 335 depending on your country of passport.
In our case, we only paid AUD 130 (Php 4700) when we lodged our application.
After you have successfully lodged in your application and paid for the visa fee, you will then get an email acknowledgment from Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) signifying their receipt of your application. Make sure to read through the letter of acknowledgment as it will give you an idea of the standard processing time that your application will take before you receive a decision, the documents required and some more bits and pieces that could help you in making the result of your application more favourable.
i am done creating my immiaccount and paying for the visa fee, what is next?
This is the most fun part of the application for me. Now that you are already done with all the basic things that you need to do, you may now upload those supporting documents that you feel are relevant and may contribute to the success of your application.
The Australian government has prepared a checklist to act as a guide in determining which document you should upload. However, it will all still be dependent on you.
For me, there are only three types of document that will help solidify and back-up your application:
- Documents that will support your identity (eg. passport, birth certificate, marriage certification, evidence of name change)
- Documents that will make them see that you have sufficient travel funds (eg. savings account, checking account, other investments, bank certification, latest credit card statements, payslips, hotel booking, letter of support from the person who will back you up during your travel and that same person's savings account)
- Documents that will prove your affiliation to your home country and that you will not stay in Australia for long (eg. flight booking, employment certificate, employment contract, business registration, approved leave of absence, land title, vehicle title, job offer)
All else are already unnecessary. Also, you would not be able to put every little document you have with you as there is a limit in the number of files that you can upload. So, I advice for you put your good judgment in to use when deciding what to upload in there. You may access the guidelines prepared by the Australian government that you should adhere to here in preparing and attaching supporting documents.
In my case, I only uploaded the following documents:
- a copy of all the pages with stamp in my passport;
- flight booking;
- employment contract from the company I am currently working for;
- bank certification;
- BIR Form 2316;
- letter of support from my father, and
- my father's savings account
My brothers on the other hand only uploaded the following docs:
- passport pages;
- flight booking;
- letter of support from our father, and
- our father's savings account
So, yes, it hugely depends on what documents you can provide and on your perception of what documents are necessary.
I have already uploaded all the necessary documents, is there anything else that i should do?
Actually, all you have to do now is wait until Australia's DIBP had already arrived on a decision. If you find yourself not feeling satisfied yet with the documents that you have uploaded, you may still add more documents and files to your roster. You have to know though that you would not be able to delete a file once you had already uploaded it.
You will be informed through email about the final decision. If you had been granted a visa, enclosed also with the email is the Visa Grant Notice stating the extent of the visa that has been granted to you. In my case I was given 3 months, single entry while my brothers, my mom and my dad were able to get 12 months, multiple entry in Australia.
how long did it take before you got your visa grant notice?
Give it 4 to 5 week's time if you are a Filipino based in the Philippines.
I was able to lodge in my application last March 10 and was able to get my Visa Grant Notice last April 6. My two brothers and my mom also lodged their application on the same day but two of them were able to get it on April 13 and the last one was able to get his last April 16. There is really no definite timeframe.
My dad who is holding a Philippine passport but is based in Singapore was able to get his visa 2 days after lodging his application online. So fast!
what should i do with MY VISA GRANT notice
Since the Visa Grant Notice serves as your key to enter Australia, please keep it in a safe place for your reference. For Filipino nationals exiting from the Philippines, you will need to present a hard copy of the visa approval (grant) letter at the airport on the intended date of departure to facilitate the check-in process. You should keep the letter with your passport at all times within the duration of your travel to and from Australia.
If you could not be bothered to dig your visa entitlement through your overflowing inbox whenever you need to check something, you may also review your visa information at any time using Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO), a free web-based service available 24/7. However, be wary that this could not take the place of your Visa Grant Notice sent in your email.
are you positive the immigration does not need to see a visa label in my passport anymore?
Yes, absolutely! Australia's visa system is now so high-tech they do not require you to have a visa label placed in your passport.
Foreign governments like that of the Philippines have already been informed of Australia's label-free policy and airline staff do have a way to electronically confirm you have a valid visa before you board the plane for Australia.
If you really are persistent and you think getting one adds to your own sense of security, you may still get a visa label for an additional $150.
That's it and that's how hassle-free it has been for us to apply for our Australian tourist visa! I hope this entry had shed some light to some of your questions about the process.
If you have any other questions, I strongly advise for you to browse through the DIBP's website as they have a very comprehensive and user-friendly website that you can access anytime you please. Better yet, ask me anything that you want to know about getting an Australian tourist travel visa. I would be more than happy to assist you to the best of my knowledge!
Happy travels, you guys!