In Immigration Law a visa is a form of permission for a non-citizen to enter, transit or remain in a particular country.
When do you need a visa?
If you are a citizen of another country other than New Zealand (or a permanent resident of Norfolk Island) you must obtain a visa before travelling to Australia. New Zealanders obtain a visa by filling in their passenger card on entry and need to get this to remain in Australia.
Depending on your nationality, you may be able to obtain an Electronic Travel Authority if you intend to stay in Australia for no more than three months during any visit on the visa, for tourism or for business.
If you are simply transiting through Australia for less than 72 hours, on your way to another destination, you will require a transit visa. Transit visas are free. However, if you choose to have a short break in Australia for tourism purposes, you should apply for a visitor visa, not a transit visa.
If you intend to stay for more than three months on a single visit, a visa application must be lodged together with payment of the required fee.
How do I apply for a visa?
The Department of Immigration is moving from paper to electronic applications and for some visas (for example business skills visas), an electronic application is required. Other visas can be applied for by paper or electronic means and a few types are still paper only applications. Before submitting any application you should ensure that you have completed the most current form, whether paper or electronic.
In general terms, a visa application is not valid unless 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. The class of visa you should apply for depends on the particular type of visa that you need, different classes apply to visas for tourism, business or transit visas for example.
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 kinds of visas allowed by the regulations (very few types are permitted).
You can also ask someone to help you with your visa application or with other immigration advice.
In Australia, a person who helps you with your application must be a registered migration agent, unless they are exempted by law. It is a criminal offence for an unregistered person, or someone who is not exempt, to give immigration assistance and advice and charge a fee.
You are responsible for any information provided in your application, whether you complete the application or someone completes it on your behalf.
How long does it take to process an application?
This largely depends on the type of visa, the country where it’s lodged and the quality of application itself. Delays commonly result from documentation that has been poorly presented or is of poor quality, a misunderstanding of visa requirements, health issues or the criminal or security status of the applicant or dependants.
The Applicant’s difficulty in obtaining satisfactory supporting documents is also a common delaying factor.
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 for a specified period of time.
Holders of permanent visas are permitted to remain in Australia indefinitely but they must remain ordinarily resident here to retain their re-entry rights after 5 years.
Holders of temporary visas are permitted to remain for the specified period although the period varies depending on the class of visa. The ‘period’ can be either for a particular date or for when an event occurs to change their visa status.
The 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, to travel to Australia within a certain timeframe.
If you are granted a visa, you must obey all Australian laws and all of the conditions attached to the visa while you are in Australia. In particular, you must leave Australia before your most recent visa (including a bridging visa) expires. Penalties for not obeying Australian laws and visa conditions can include the cancellation of the visa.
Can I apply for permission to work while in Australia?
If you do not have permission to work, or if you only have a restricted permission to work, you may be able to apply for another visa with permission to work.
If you held a substantive visa at the time of application for another substantive visa, the bridging visa granted to you will normally continue the permission to work or ‘no work’ conditions of the visa you held.
If the visa you held did not permit work, for example, a Tourist/Visitor visa, you will not be entitled under the bridging visa to engage in work although you may be eligible to apply for the no work condition to be removed for particular reasons set out in the Regulations.
Can I hold more than one visa at a time?
You can apply for as many visas at the same time as you wish (if eligible) but 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.
How we can help
We have extensive experience in making visa applications and can:
- Advise you on the visa that will suit you best
- Guide you through a range of visa issues
- Assist you in collecting the documents that you will need to submit with your visa application
- Assist you in completing your application form
- Communicate with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on your behalf to ensure that your visa application is finalised as quickly as possible.
If you need more information or if you need assistance or advice on how to proceed please call one of our Registered Migration Lawyers on 02 9955 6692 or email firstname.lastname@example.org