One sure way to make us smile is to mention Australia. Whenever a friend asks us a simple question about our time there, we can’t seem to stop talking passionately. Australia is incredible. It may be the world’s smallest continent, but it is teeming with adventures.
Within a month, we were able to visit four cities (Darwin, Sydney, Cairns, and Brisbane), three towns (Alice Springs, Yulara, Airlie Beach), and five national parks (Litchfield, Kakadu, Wattarka, Kata Tjuta-Uluru, and the Great Barrier Reef). It is the most unforgettable trip we have been on to date, and we can’t wait for our readers to experience what the Land Down Under has to offer.
Fortunately, it is easy to get an Australian tourist visa. While you can still apply via VFS Global, a more hassle-free way is to do everything online.
First, let’s look at how Australia defines a “tourist.” The visa type you need is called “Visitor visa” (subclass 600). Under this visa, there are two streams: Tourist and Business. According to VFS, a tourist is a person visiting Australia temporarily “for a holiday, for a visit to relatives or friends, or for other short-term non-work purposes, including study for less than three months.”
The visa that we got was valid for 3 months, and must be used within 6 months of issuance.
Note that this post is for Filipino citizens applying for an Australian TOURIST Visa. If you’re eyeing another type (long-term study, business, residency visas), I’m afraid we can’t help you because we haven’t experienced it.
Here’s exactly how we did it.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
1. Sign up for an ImmiAccount.
ImmiAccount means an account with Immi.gov.au, the Australian government’s official Immigration website. It is important to create an ImmiAccount because the whole process will be done on this website.
Important: Make sure you use a working email address. Any update about your application will be sent to this email (including the acknowledgment of receipt of your application and the actual visa grant). You will also get notified every time you log into your account.
To register, go to this site.
2. Accomplish the Application Form.
Once you have an account, you’ll receive a confirmation link via email. Check your inbox and follow the link.
Once confirmed, you may start filling out the application form. This is the equivalent of Form 1419 (Application for a Visitor visa – Tourist stream), except you don’t need to print this out. It will retain the information you enter as long as you save them.
What if you start accomplishing the form but can’t complete right then? It’s okay. You can SAVE the changes and continue editing in the future. As long as you SAVE it (and NOT SUBMIT), you can keep on editing the form.
DO NOT SUBMIT THE FORM if you’re not done yet.
3. Pay the Application Fee.
Online payments are done via credit card only.
If you have one, good for you. The fee is now AUD 135 (PHP 5387) (although at the time I applied, the fee was only AUD 130). A credit card surcharge was also collected. (In my case, it was AUD 1.34.)
If you don’t have a credit card, you can ask a family member or a friend who has one.
Can you pay even without submitting the supporting documents? Yes. You can upload the additional docs later.
4. Submit Supporting Documents.
On your application dashboard, you will find a field where you can upload the required and not-required-but-great-to-have documents. The key is to submit as many types as you can. Better safe than sorry.
Here a list of SCANNED items that I believe are of utmost importance.
- Info page of passport.
- NSO birth certificate.
- Passport-size photograph
- Bank statement. To prove that you have the financial capability to do this trip.
- Certificate of employment (if employee) or Business Registration (if self-employed). To prove that you have something to return for in the Philippines.
- Previous and Current Visas. We scanned all the pages of our old and current passports that have stamps.
Here are more documents that I did not submit because these didn’t apply to me, but if they apply to you, make sure you have them.
- Letter of invitation. Only if you’re visiting a friend or relative. Best if you have photos with that friend and relative showing that you really know each other.
- Identification Documents of Sponsor. If you declare that your trip will be paid for by someone other than yourself.
- Marriage Certificate. If your current last name is different from your last name in your birth certificate.
Here are additional documents that are not required but I believe can help your application go smoothly. (I submitted the following.)
- Cover Letter and Itinerary. This isn’t required, but it would help you a lot if you upload a letter explaining why you want to visit. Make sure that the letter summarizes and supports everything else you’re submitting. Remember, there will be no interview so it is best to let them know what you plan to do in Oz.
- Recent payslips or copy of Income Tax Return (ITR). To prove that you are employed and have the financial capability.
- Roundtrip flight and hotel booking. You are actually discouraged to book flights and hotels before you’re granted a visa (so your money won’t go to waste should your application be denied), but in our case, we already had confirmed bookings so we thought we might as well submit them. This might be helpful if you snagged low fares via seat sale. But if you don’t have tickets yet, don’t book. Wait for your visa before making flight arrangements.
I know friends who also submitted their latest credit card statement. This is to show them that you have additional source of travel funds. I have a credit card but didn’t submit mine.
That’s it! Once you have submitted your application, you should receive an Acknowledgment of Application Receipt in your email. I got mine on the same day of submission.
From here, it’s gonna be a nerve-racking waiting game. Note that they will never give you an update from the moment you submit until a decision is made. This means that the next email you’re going to receive from them will tell you whether you have been granted or denied a visa.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. When will I be informed of the results of my application?
The processing can take a few days to one month, depending on your case. Ours took almost a month. I submitted my application on May 9 and received my visa on June 5. This was in 2015.
However, it seems like it’s much faster lately. Some of our friends who had applied in the past year got theirs after only 1-2 days!
2. How long is the validity of the Australian visa?
In my case, even though I applied for a 3-week stay, I was granted a visa valid for 3 months. I think that’s the standard length for non-working visas.
3. How early should I apply for an Australian visa?
Not earlier than 6 months before your trip. In the visa, the last day I can enter Australia was clearly specified: 6 months after the visa was granted. Again, I’m not sure if this is the case for everyone, but that’s what was indicated on mine.
4. How much money should I have in the bank to get approved?
No one knows exactly. They don’t explicitly say. But to give you an idea for a ballpark figure, the Embassy of France now requires from Schengen visa applicants EUR 120 per day of stay.
5. What are the reasons why my application would be denied?
- You can’t prove that you intend to return to the Philippines. You probably don’t have a stable job at this point or are newly employed or newly resigned, and it’s giving the impression that you plan on staying longer than your declared duration.
- You can’t prove that you can financially support yourself on this trip. You or your sponsor may not be in good financial standing.
- You seem to not know the details of your trip. You may have appeared as though you’re not really doing what you declared you would be doing, which may raise some red flags.
- Your purpose in Australia is unclear. This is why it is best to be specific when you’re detailing the reasons for your visit.
6. What does an Australian Visa look like?
Here’s what the Australian Visa looks like when you receive it online. It doesn’t get attached to the passport. Just bring a copy and show the Immigration Officer when you arrive:
If you have questions or something to add to this post, holler in the comments section below! 🙂