When do I need a visa for Australia?

The main purpose of a visa is to give visa holders legal permission to remain in Australia, either temporarily or permanently. Your visa may also include permission to travel to and enter Australia. If you are a citizen of New Zealand or a permanent resident of Norfolk Island who meets certain requirements, you need no visa to travel to Australia but require a visa to remain in Australia. However, if you are a citizen of another country, you must obtain a visa before travelling to Australia. Certain nationalities can obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) if they intend to stay in Australia for less than three months, for tourism or for business. If you are transiting through Australia for less than 72 hours, on your way to another destination via the next available flight, you will require a transit visa. Transit visas are free of charge. If you choose to have a short break in Australia for tourism purposes, you should apply for a visitor visa, not a transit visa. Please note that airlines may refuse to allow travellers to board their aircraft without valid visas / ETAs and passports. If you intend to stay for more than three months or are not eligible for an ETA, a visa application must be lodged with the Australian Embassy/Consulate-General, together with the required fee.

What is the Australian Migration Program?

The migration program is the mechanism by which the Australian Government determines how many applicants it will allow to settle permanently in Australia in any given year - and is sub-divided into two programs: the Migration Program and the Humanitarian Program. The Migration program is further divided into family, skilled and special eligibility migration. The Humanitarian Program also has further categories such as refugees, special humanitarian migrants and special assistance. The largest component of the migration program is the family reunion stream, where preference is given to a spouse, child, adoption, parent and preferential family. There is also a residual class -- the Skilled-Australian-sponsored class -- whose numbers may be controlled by the operation of a 'pool' of potential applicants who may be processed to meet the targets set for the migration program in any particular year.

How do I apply for a visa to Australia?

You have to lodge a valid application for a specific visa subclass. An application is valid if it is for a visa of a specified class, any fees prescribed for the application have been paid, and it is made on the approved form and at specified place. You should be aware that if you are in Australia and do not hold a substantive visa and a decision is made to refuse to grant you a visa, then restrictions do apply to your future right to make further applications for the grant of a visa. You will only be entitled to apply for a prescribed class of visa.

What will my Australian visa permit me to do?

The visa permits the holder to travel to and enter Australia, and/or to remain in Australia. Holders of permanent visas are permitted to remain in Australia indefinitely. Holders of temporary visas are permitted to remain for the specified period. The period varies depending on the class of visa. Your visa may be granted subject to certain conditions which will govern what you are entitled to do as the holder of the visa and may also require you to do certain things for your visa to remain in effect (for example, travel to Australia within a certain time).

Will I receive evidence of my visa if my application is successful?

A non-citizen in Australia whose visa ceases becomes unlawful and is liable for detention and removal from Australia. If you become unlawful and come to the notice of the Department of Immigration, you will not necessarily be immediately detained; you may be able to be granted a bridging visa. You should also be aware that by becoming unlawful your right to apply for or be granted a visa may be severely restricted.

What do I do if my circumstances change?

You have an obligation to notify the Department of Immigration in writing if any of the information that is included in or with your application form (or provided later in support of your application) changes. This obligation applies whether you are in Australia or overseas. If your application was made in Australia your obligation applies only to changes in circumstances before the visa is granted. If your application was made outside Australia, the obligation to advise of changes of circumstances continues after the grant of the visa. The information that you provide to the Department will be used when considering whether to grant or refuse to grant you a visa. If you fail to notify the Department of a change in your circumstances, any visa that is granted to you may be cancelled before or after you have arrived in Australia.

Can I apply for more than one visa at a time?

Nothing prevents you from applying for more than one visa at a time. You will need to comply, in respect of each application, with all the requirements for the making of applications. This will usually involve you paying a separate fee for each application.

Can I hold more than one visa at a time?

You cannot hold more than one substantive visa at the same time. If a new substantive visa is granted, any existing substantive visa that you hold will cease. If you do not hold a substantive visa but hold more than one bridging visa, only the most beneficial bridging visa will be in effect. It is possible to hold more than one visa at a time provided that only one of those visas is in effect. If you hold a substantive visa and a bridging visa at the same time the bridging visa will not be in effect while your substantive visa is in effect.

How long do I need to live in Australia before I can become a citizen?

All citizenship applicants must meet this residence requirement at the time they apply for Australian citizenship. • You must have been living in Australia on a valid Australian visa for 4 years immediately before applying, including 1 year as a permanent resident, and • You must not have been absent from Australia for more than 1 year during the 4 year period, including no more than 90 days in the year immediately before applying

What is Australia´s overseas student program?

The Australian Government operates an overseas student program (OSP) that allows people who are not Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents to study in Australia. Anyone who is not an Australian resident may apply to study in Australia under the OSP. If you want to study under this program, you must obtain a student visa before you can commence a course of study in Australia.