Getting an Australian visa

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All foreign nationals require a visa to enter Australia.

There are literally hundreds of distinct classes of Australian visas available for people in different situations and with different needs. Depending on the country of your passport and the type of Australian visa you require, you may be able to apply online, or you may be required to submit a paper application. Sometimes very little (if any) supporting documentation is required and sometimes a great deal is required.

The visa process can be very complex because, as well as Australian visas being categorised into types on the basis of activity, length of time involved and whether the Applicant is in Australia or not at the time of the application, they are also usually classified on the basis of which country passport the Applicant holds. For example, for Tourist visas there are three main types: 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 covers the rest of the world. However, to complicate things, it is possible in certain circumstances for Applicants in the first two categories to apply for a visa in the third category.

At Australian Visa Advice we can assist you to choose the best Australian visa for your particular circumstances. With our many years of training and experience we are experts at making these assessments.  We assist our clients to look very carefully at their situations and to think about future planning. We ask them to think about how long they want to remain in Australia and whether they want to  come here for tourist purposes, or for work, study, to do business, to migrate, or possibly even a combination of the former. After that  we give advice and then move forward with the visa application process.

We wish you success with your Australian journey.

I am a Filipina/Pinay applying for an Australian visa – for which visas do I need to provide an invitation?

As a Filipina/Pinay you are required to apply for a visa for Australia. This is true regardless of the length of time you want to go to Australia (whether it be for a temporary or permanent entry) or the reason for your journey to Australia. Even if you are applying just for the purpose of a two week holiday you will be required to obtain a visa. Depending on your personal circumstances, including your financial situation, you may apply on your own without any assistance; or if you have family, friends or an Australian boyfriend etc. they can provide you with an invitation or letter in support of your application. It is up to you whether you get an invitation from someone residing in Australia or not. Whether the invitation carries much weight in the eyes of the Australian Government will depend on your relationship with this person or persons, as well as their individual circumstances.

For an Australian Tourist visa, for example, it can be entirely appropriate for you to attach an invitation from someone in Australia. Millions of people come to Australia each year to visit family, friends and boyfriends and to do tourist activities. Someone in Australia can offer to provide financial and other support to your trip. A well prepared invitation can certainly increase your chances of obtaining a Tourist visa. Without someone offering to support a visit many Pinay’s would not be likely to have the funds required by the Australian Government to come out on a Tourist visa. While the wages in Australia are high compared with the Philippines so is the cost of living.

For a Fiance or Partner (Marriage) visa an ‘applicant’ for this visa is required to have a ‘sponsor’. These types of visas are based on fiancé, marriage or de facto relationships and 1 person must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident. If you are married to an Australian man you may be eligible for a Partner visa and your husband will need to effectively invite you to live with him in Australia. There are a number of documents that he will have to submit that amount to his invitation.

For other visas like business, student and work visas both people and/or companies can provide you with an invitation, and offer or financial or some other type of support. We recommend you first research which visa is most appropriate for your circumstances and then see if you need to and/or can obtain an invitation. Many of the applications for Australian visas are complex so make sure you provide everything that is required as set out in the migration regulations.

Filipinas and Australian visas – why is the visa process so hard?

Thousands of Filipinas submit visa applications for travel to Australia every year. They submit Tourist visa applications to visit their Australian boyfriends, Fiancé and Marriage visa applications so they can go and live with their Australian fiancés and husbands, and Student visa applications to study at a school, University or private college. Unfortunately however, a very large percentage of these visa applications are refused by the Australian Embassy in Manila. This leaves people frustrated and I am often asked: “why is visa process so hard?” In the following paragraphs I will try to explain why this is the case.

There are a number of reasons why the Australian visa process can seem to be complex and why there is a high rate of refusal. The Philippines is classified as a ‘high risk’ country by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). DIAC is the Australian government department that deals with visas. ‘High risk’ means that DIAC is concerned about the likelihood of some visa holders from the Philippines might overstay their temporary visa or might not abide by all of the conditions. One of the biggest concerns is that people coming over to Australia on Tourist visas will work illegally. Historically a relatively high number of Australian visa holders from the Philippines have breached conditions on their visas. This is relative to people from other countries like Norway, the USA, the UK, and Germany. Furthermore the standard of living and the salaries in Australia are generally higher than in the Philippines and this leads to concerns that the incentive to return home might be outweighed by the opportunities in Australia. These are just some of the reasons why the Philippines is classified as a high risk country by Australia for visas.

The result of the fact that the Philippines is classified as a ‘high risk’ country is that visa applicants from the Philippines have to undergo more checks to test their suitability for a visa and have to provide more supporting documentation to address or answer the checks. To obtain even a Tourist visa for Australia for a short period of time a citizen from the Philippines will have to answer questions about their health, character, employment history, previous visa and travel history as well as questions about their finances. Any failure to satisfy the Australian Embassy’s enquiries will usually result in the application being refused.

Because of the relatively complex nature of even the simplest of Australian visa applications I always recommend that potential applicants speak to a migration agent such as myself so that they can be guided as to whether they might qualify for a Australian visa and if so how to prepare a high quality application with a high chance of success. Unfortunately however, many people try to prepare applications on their own with either little or no knowledge or experience. It is therefore no wonder that so many applications are refused. It is one thing to be refused a Tourist visa but it is another thing entirely to be refused a Fiancé visa, for example, which might deny you and your Australian fiancé the chance to be together on a permanent basis. When it comes down to your future you do not want to throw darts at a board and hope for the best -you want to do things correctly and get it right the first time.

Partner visa – Marriage or De Facto?

If you and your Thai, Filipina or other girlfriend or partner are discussing Australian visa options for her with your Migration Agent, at some point you will probably consider a Partner visa. Depending on your relationship situation you may have the option to think about whether you go for a Partner visa by marriage or a Partner visa by de facto. In this article I will discuss the key differences between the two.

As you would expect, the Partner visa by marriage requires that you and your partner be married. This marriage needs to be a legal marriage as defined under the Migration Act and Regulations. Therefore it cannot be simply a traditional marriage if that marriage is not registered in the government office that deals with marriages in that country. You and you partner can get married in Australia or in another country so long as the requirements of a legally recognized marriage are met.

There are some exceptions, such as same sex, underage or polygamous marriages, which, while they may be accepted as legally binding marriages in some countries, are not accepted in Australia.

Of course, not all couples want to get married for one reason or another. If this is the case you might want to look at the Partner visa by de facto. In contrast to the Partner visa by marriage, the Partner visa by de facto requires that the couple be in a de facto relationship as recognised by the Migration Act and Regulations. There are strict rules as to what defines a de facto relationship in this context. For example: the couple cannot be in a married relationship, they are not related by family, they both must be aged at least 18 years at the time the application is made, they have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others, the relationship between them is genuine and continuing, they live together or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis, etc…

Some relationships may not qualify as de facto under the rules and if this is the case you and your partner might want to consider the Partner visa by Marriage option.

As mentioned above, Australia does not currently recognise same sex marriages, so if you are a same sex couple you will not have the option of going down the marriage route. You must go for the Partner visa by de facto – and obviously you will need to qualify under the de facto rules.

Therefore, in conclusion you and your partner should discuss your relationship situation with your Migration Agent to see whether you qualify for either or both of the Partner visa options. If you do qualify for both you should consider what option best suits you situation and your needs.

Will my Thai girlfriend like living in Australia

If you have a Thai girlfriend and want her to visit or live with you in Australia, there are visa options available to suit almost every situation. It is always difficult to say whether she will like living in Australia because every person and every situation is different. However, from my experience over the years in assisting Thai’s to visit or live in Australia with their Australian boyfriends, almost all of the Thai women have enjoyed their experience in Australia and are very happy to be there.

I always think that, if possible, it is very important that when you are considering for your Thai girlfriend to live permanently with you in Australia, that you first bring her out for a visit. This will allow her to experience a taste of what Australia is like – the lifestyle, the weather and much more. You can also see what life might be like together when you are in normal daily routine of very possibly you working full-time and her staying at home. Of course, if your Thai girlfriend does eventually apply for an is granted a permanent visa, she will be able to work, and that might also change the dynamic.

It is possible to obtain a Tourist visa for your Thai girlfriend to visit Australia. Thai citizens are required to first obtain a visa before arriving in Australia. They must submit a paper application and provide a lot of supporting documentation. You as her boyfriend can provide support to her application by being, in effect, her sponsor. If she cannot not show that she is in a strong position financially you can show that you can support her visit financially and by providing accommodation etc.

Unfortunately, a high percentage of self-prepared applications are refused whereas a competent Migration Agent will achieve a very high percentage of successful applications.  These statistics are reflective of a number of important things to take note of. Firstly, Tourist visas are not easy to obtain. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is very strict with regard to who they will and will not let into Australia. If they have any concerns about the “Applicant” they will refuse the visa. Secondly, the Tourist visa applications are often poorly prepared. Australian men and their Thai girlfriends usually underestimate just how complex even a Tourist visa application is and the volume of supporting documentation required. Thirdly, a skilled and experienced Migration Agent understands Australian migration law, knows what is required and they can guide you through the process and will significantly increase your girlfriends chances of obtaining her Tourist (or other) visa.

Should you require a permanent visa for your Thai girlfriend, the main options will be the Fiance” visa or the Partner visa (by de facto or marriage). These visas are far more complicated and rigorous than a Tourist visa! So we definitely recommend that you enlist the help of a competent Migration Agent. Partner visa applications can cost between 2000 – 3000AUD just for the visa application fee and can take 12 months or even longer to process. Considering the amount of time, effort and money involved in making an Australian visa application it is certainly both cost and time effective to use the services of a skilled Migration Agent

What to do if your Filipina girlfriend was Refused an Australian Tourist Visa

I am often contacted by Australian men who have a Philippina girlfriend (a “Filipina”). They tell me that they have attempted to obtain an Australian Tourist visa for their Filipina girlfriend but the application was refused. The Australian man has either attempted to prepare the application himself or paid some dodgy local so called migration agent (but who is often neither an Australian nor qualified in Australian migration law). A very high percentage of Australian Tourist visa applications are refused and it is not surprising because most people think that obtaining a Tourist visa is easy, and yet Australian migration law is amongst the most complicated areas of all Australian law. For most foreign citizens there is a lot involved in the preparation and processing of even a Tourist visa.

The first thing that you should do if your Philippina girlfriend (“Filipina”) is refused a Tourist visa is to look at the Decision Record/Letter of Refusal. The Department of Immigration sends out a letter with every refusal and they are required to provide reasons for the refusal. This might seem like a simple exercise whereby one looks at the reasons and can easily identify something which is lacking and that can be rectified. Unfortunately however, the reasoning is not always very detailed and can sometimes be a little cryptic. It often takes a skilled and experienced migration agent to decipher what the concerns really are. A detailed assessment also usually involves having a talk to the Australian man and his Filipina girlfriend to discuss what they submitted and what they said in the application.

I regularly prepare Tourist visa applications for my Australian clients who have had prior refusals. The preparation requires careful attention to address, not only the normal criteria, but also the reasons for refusal. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) states that, unless your circumstances have changed significantly from the first application, there isn’t really much point in submitting another application. So effectively, a refusal creates an extra hurdle that has to be overcome.

In summary, if your Filipina girlfriend has already had a Tourist visa refused, I would strongly recommend, not only using an experienced migration agent, but also one with a good track record of visa applications of the type that you want to apply for. In this case we are talking about a Tourist visa – and a Tourist visa for a Filipina. Each Australian Embassy overseas has its own peculiarities about the way it does things – its procedure – so it is important to take that into consideration. Try to find someone trained in Australian Migration law. If you do all of these things and follow your migration agents advice your Filipina girlfriend’s chances of obtaining an Australian Tourist visa will be greatly increased.

Australian Migration for Asian Nationals

There are a number of ways that Asian nationals can migrate to Australia. Some of those pathways are based upon work and some upon family or other underlying criteria. At Australian Visa Advice we deal with family based migration to Australia and that is what this article is going to discuss.

Family based migration usually involves situations where the Asian national is in a relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident. They need to be either married, engaged or in a de facto relationship. There are strict rules as to what defines a de facto relationship for the purposes of the Migration Act and Regulations.

 

Not all Asian nationals are treated equally – the citizens of some countries are classified as low risk and some as high risk. This determination is largely based upon prior records of nationals of the country in question – whether or not they have overstayed their Australian visa and abided by any other conditions, or not. For example, citizens of South Korea, Japan and Malaysia are considered to be low risk whereas citizens of Thailand, the Philippines and mainland China are considered to be high risk. The main significance of whether or not you are considered high or low risk will be in the time it takes to process your application.

Applications can be submitted either in or outside of Australia, apart from the Prospective Marriage visa (the Fiancé visa), which must be submitted outside of Australia. The Department of immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) looks at the length and genuineness of the relationship, the character and health of the ‘applicant’ and the financial capacity of the ‘applicant’ and ‘sponsor’. The Asian national can include dependent children in their application and other dependents whether or not they are children, but any dependent over 18 must prove that they are dependent upon the ‘applicant’.

Applications are usually lodged at the Australian Embassy or special visa office in the country where the Asian national resides. As mentioned previously, one can apply in Australia – but only if one has a visa which does not preclude them from applying for another visa while in Australia.

In summary, it is possible for Asian nationals to migrate to Australia. There are a number of different ways that they can achieve this. If they have a family based visa option available to them they should first check carefully whether they qualify before undertaking the process. We wish you the best of luck with your Australian journey.

What ‘exactly’ is a Partner Visa?

Many people wonder what a Partner visa really is. The word suggests that it is some sort of relationship visa. It certainly is a relationship visa, but it highly specific as to the type of relationship it refers to. An Australian Partner visa applies to a married or de facto couple. There are strict rules as to what a de facto relationship is for the purposes of the Migration Act and Regulations. The ‘Applicant’ is the person who is applying for the visa (your Thai (or other) wife or partner) and you, as an Australian citizen or permanent resident are her ‘Sponsor’.

A Partner visa is a great Australian visa that may be suitable for you and your wife or partner. It will allow your Thai, Filipina (or other) partner to enter and remain in Australia. It will allow her to travel to and from her country of origin without any limitations. It will allow her to work and be eligible to be enrolled in Medicare. The visa starts off being temporary and after about 2 years it will become permanent.

When a couple gets married or satisfies the de facto requirements and they want to live in Australia (or at least want the option of being able to spend periods in Australia without the hassle of trying to obtain a visa all the time) they can start to think about applying for a Partner visa. They will also need to satisfy health, character and financial requirements. They will need to gather supporting documentation and fill in a number of different forms. The medical examination is usually preformed after the application is submitted. An interview will also take place at some time during the processing of the application.

When you and your partner are ready you can submit her application. The processing time outside of Australia can be 10-12 months or more or less depending on the Embassy and other factors such as the Embassy’s case load. Once the visa is processed you and your partner can travel to Australia and start your life together without concerns about the need to apply for another visa.

To get good advice about whether the Partner visa might be right for your partner, you should always consult a qualified and experienced Migration Agent.

Australian Tourist Visa Application

If you are a Thai and Philippino citizen and you want to visit Australia for a holiday or to visit family or friends you must first obtain a Tourist visa. You must fill in a paper application and attach supporting documentation. What you must provide will depend on your individual situation. Make sure that you fill in the appropriate forms carefully and understand what information you should provide.

Tourist visas can be applied for 3, 6 and 12 month’s duration. Single or multiple entry Tourist visas are available. Usually the Embassy looks at the request, including any significant dates or events that are mentioned, and based on their assessment, should they decide to grant the Tourist visa they will decide the length of time and number of entries to be granted.

Unfortunately, a high percentage of self-prepared applications are refused because of poor preparation. If the wrong box is ticked or some important piece of information is not included the Embassy can and will refuse the application. At law, they are entitled to make a decision based on the information at hand.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will, the vast majority of the time, attach a number of conditions to a Tourist visa. Such conditions normally include: no right to work, maximum 3 months study and “no further stay”. The latter condition, also known by its category number (8503), effectively means that the visa holder cannot apply for another visa while they are in Australia. In other words, if you are granted a Tourist visa for 3 months and want to stay longer and apply for another Tourist visa, and the “no further stay” condition is attached, you will have to leave Australia in order to make a new application. Conversely, if the condition is not attached you would be free to apply for another Tourist visa (or any other visa for that matter) while you are still in Australia.

For Thai citizens their Tourist visa application is processed by the Australian Embassy in Bangkok. In the Philippines the applications are processed at the Australian Embassy in Manila. There are options available in both Thailand and the Philippines for sending your documents to the Embassy through special service providers and courier companies.

Can My Thai Girlfriend Apply for an Australian Tourist Visa?

I am often asked this question. An Australian man will approach me and say: “I met a really nice Thai lady when I was in Pattaya (or Bangkok, Phuket, or some other place) and we got on like a house on fire. I have returned to Australia now and I want to bring her over here so we can spend some more time together and so she can meet my family and catch a glimpse of what life is like here. Can she apply for a Tourist visa?” I say “Well, let’s see…”

I always start by asking the fellow Aussie a few questions about his girlfriend and their relationship. There a lots of things to consider: How long have they known each other? How long have they been together as a couple? How much face-to-face time have they spent together? When does he want to bring her out to Australia and for how long?

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) looks at Tourist visa applications in a holistic way. They look at all aspects of the visa applicant – no one feature will guarantee a Tourist visa, but absence of something important may rule out the visa. As weleas looking at the relationship, the character and medical condition of your Thai girlfriend will be assessed, as well as her ability to support herself financially when she is in Australia. The Australian boyfriend of a Thai lady can offer financial and other support, and if this is accepted by the Embassy, the finances of the Australian will be looked at: does he have a job? Does he have savings?

At Australian Visa Advice we look at the situation very carefully so I can say to the Aussie man with confidence: “Yes, she has a very strong chance of obtaining a Tourist visa” or “At the moment her chances are not so good but if we do X and Y her chances will be improved significantly”. This is good because it puts everyone’s minds at ease and an informed decision can now be made as to whether to go ahead with the Tourist visa application or not.