If you want to holiday or visit family in Australia, unless you are a New Zealand citizen, you will need to obtain an Australian visa before you travel.

The type of visa you will need broadly depends on what you intend to do in Australia, your nationality and the length of time you want to stay in Australia, but you will probably need either an Electronic Travel Authority (Visitor) or a Tourist visa or a Sponsored Family Visitor visa. Whichever the case, you should apply for the full period of time that you want to remain in Australia, because once there, it is possible that you will be unable to extend your visa.

The Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) (Visitor) is just as it sounds – electronic and therefore you may not get a stamp or label in your passport but don’t worry, the Australian immigration officers will have a record of your visa.

You can apply for an ETA (Visitor) if you wish to stay for less than three months, if you are outside Australia and hold a passport from one of the 34 eligible countries. You will find a full list of these on the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs website, but included are most countries from Western Europe and Scandinavia, the USA and a number of Far Eastern countries. There are special arrangements for citizens of countries not on the eligible list. An ETA (Visitor) Visa may be obtained via a travel agent or an airline, direct on the Internet or at an Australian visa office in your country of residence. There is no charge for this type of visa unless you apply over the Internet.

You may apply for a Tourist Visa whether you are inside or outside Australia and the duration will usually be 3 or 6 months but can sometimes extend to 12 months if you can prove your ability to support yourself during your stay. Applications for Tourist Visas may be made via the Internet if you are a passport holder of an eligible country, or via a registered travel agent, airline or service provider, a list of which can be found on the website mentioned above.

A Sponsored Family Visitor Visa is applicable for stays between 3 and 12 months and to apply you must be outside Australia and have a sponsor within Australia who is a family member, a member of an Australian parliament or other authorised person. To apply, you will need to complete a form, get a certified copy of your passport and send it all to your sponsor in Australia. Your sponsor will need to complete a different form and make the application on your behalf, sending all the paperwork to the applicable office.

Anyone who is not eligible to apply for an ETA Visitor or Tourist Visa over the Internet can complete a paper application which can be mailed to specific offices of the Australian government overseas.

Australian Visa – Business Visits

If you need to visit Australia on business, even for a very short period of time, you will need to apply for an Australian visa. This article gives some basic details of the three types of business visa available.

There are three types of visa available for business visits to Australia. It should be noted that a business visit is NOT the same as “working” in the context of applying for an Australian visa.

The first is a Short Stay Business Visa which is suitable for a visit of less than three months. This will cover a business person for normal business meetings, negotiations and conferences and may be applied for through their chosen airline or via the internet. This is a Business Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). Alternatively, applications may be made in writing.

The second type of business visa is a Sponsored Business Visitor (short stay) Visa. In order to quality for this type of visa, a business person will need to be sponsored by a member of an Australian parliament, an authorised government agency, local mayor or other authorised organisation and the sponsor will need to guarantee that their visitor will abide by all the visa conditions including that which specifies the date by which they must leave the country.

The third business visa is a Temporary Business (Long Stay) visa. To apply for one of these, an applicant must have an approved employer as a sponsor who has an eligible position available. The employer can be an Australian or overseas company and the employee must be a foreign national with the applicable skills to fill the position. The eligible position must have been approved as a skilled occupation suitable for this program, must be full time and of a minimum salary as well as meeting various Australian laws and award requirements.

However, before the employee can apply for a visa, the employer will need to apply to be a sponsor of overseas employees and nominate the job vacancies to be filled. The nomination period will be 12 months or until all the vacancies are filled, whichever is the shorter. The sponsorship will be for a period of 2 years and the visa period may be anything from 3 months to 4 years. However, if the employee wishes to change employment, he will need to find a new approved sponsor with an eligible position and re-apply for a visa.

Full details of all the above can be found on the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs website.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Australian Visas