Visitor visa

This page deals with Tourist visitor visas. Please refer to the Short Term Business visa page for business visitor visas. As at the 23 March 2013 DIAC no longer accepts applications for the following visitor visa as part of their visa simplification exercise:

  • Tourist visa (subclass 676)- except in e-676 format to apply for the 600 visitor visa;
  • Sponsored family visitor visa (subclass 679);
  • Electronic Travel Authority (visitor) (subclass 976).

Applicants who were previously eligible for the visas listed above may now be eligible for one of the following 3 visa sub-classes below.

  • Visitor visa (subclass 600)
  • Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601)
  • eVisitor (subclass 651)

Visitor visa (subclass 600)

This new visa has four streams:

  • Tourist stream: for people travelling to Australia for a holiday, recreation or to visit family and friends. If you apply for this visa in Australia, you must be in Australia when the visa is decided. If you apply for this visa outside Australia, you must be outside Australia when the visa is decided.
  • Business Visitor stream: for business people travelling to Australia for a short business visit. This includes going to a conference, negotiation or meeting -BUT no specialist work is allowed. Applicants must use the 400 (Short stay activity) visa. You must be outside Australia when you apply and when the visa is decided.
  • Sponsored Family stream: for people travelling to Australia to visit their family. You must have a sponsor who might be asked to provide a bond. You must be outside Australia when you apply and when the visa is decided. You cannot apply for another visa after you have arrived in Australia.
  • Approved Destination Status stream: for people from the People’s Republic of China who are travelling in an organised tour group. You must be outside Australia when you apply and when the visa is decided.

Persons overseas from certain gazetted countries may be able to apply on-line for the Sub-class 600 visa. Application may also be made on-line from within Australia

Electronic Travel Authority -ETA- (subclass 601)

This visa lets you enter Australia as many times as you want (limited to 3 months per visit) within a 12 month period from the ETA visa grant date, for the purposes of tourism, such as holidays, recreation or visiting family or friends.

No work is allowed.

You must hold a passport from an eligible country to apply for this visa. The ETA is an electronically stored authority for travel to Australia. You must be outside Australia when you apply and when the ETA is granted. An ETA is linked electronically to your passport. It can be seen by staff at airlines, travel agencies and Australian border agencies.

If intending to visit for business purposes , please refer to the Short Term Business visa link instead.

Chill out - written in the sand

e-Visitor visa (subclass 651)

This visa lets you enter Australia as many times as you want (limited to 3 months per visit) within a 12 month period from the e-visa grant date,  for the purposes of tourism, such as holidays, recreation or visiting family or friends.

No work is allowed.

You must hold a passport from an eligible european country to apply for this visa. You must be outside Australia when you lodge your application for an e-Visitor. You do not need to visit an immigration office and you will not receive a stamp or label in your passport. However, you will be given a confirmation for your records. An e-Visitor is an electronically stored authority for travel to Australia. eVisitor can be accessed by airlines, travel agents and Australian border agencies.

If intending to visit for business purposes, please refer to the Short Term Business visa link instead.

Medical professionals

Doctors and nurses who do not have the qualifications to work in their professions in Australia can undertake a bridging program to gain registration with the relevant Australian medical authority. A sub-class 600  Business Visitor stream visa is appropriate for doctors and nurses to undertake an approved bridging or pre-registration program for 3 months or less and for doctors to do their medical board examination.

In some circumstances a doctor or nurse may be obliged to extend their stay in Australia to undertake further registration related study or examinations or due to delays from the registration body. Although a Business Visitor stream visa remains the most appropriate visa stream for this purpose, a Tourist stream visa may prove a more convenient visa alternative as the holder does not have to leave Australia and re-enter after 3 months as would be necessary if they held a Business Visitor stream visa.

Officers will generally consider favourably visa applications by doctors and nurses who, because of circumstances beyond their control, may be required to extend their stay onshore to undertake further registration related study or examinations. Generally a 3 month Tourist stream visa would be considered suitable.

If specialised or emergency work (allowable for up to 3 months) that no other Australian can do is intended, then you must use the Sub-class 400 series visa and not the Sub-class 600 Visitor visa (Business Stream). 

Extending visitor visas in Australia

Clients who are in Australia and enjoying themselves, often would like to extend their stay as a visitor or tourist, or to spend more time with their Australian relative or partner. Before applying for a visitor visa from inside Australia, there are a number of important things to consider.

Some of the common scenarios are listed below together with some of the things that must be considered. Some problems have been highlight to ensure that you aware of the risks and make appropriate plans!

Factors to consider:

Whilst every situation is different (some are far more complex than others), there are a number of factors which are common to ‘onshore’ visitor visas of which you should be aware:

Which visa do you currently hold? This is a really important question and can make a huge difference to how you present your visa application to the Department of Immigration. For example:

If you already hold a visitor visa, you need to be aware that in most cases, the maximum time allowed in Australia as a visitor is 12 consecutive months. When applicants request more time than this they can potentially be considered ‘non-genuine visitors’ and so have their visa refused. So, if you have been here for 6 months you should only ask for another six months (maximum). There are some limited exceptions to the 12 month rule, but they are quite limited.

This 12 month guideline also applies if you have been in Australia as the holder of a working holiday visa. The working holiday visa is considered for this purpose to be a ‘visitor visa’, so if you have been here for 12 months already, you may not be able to meet the requirements for an onshore visitor visa extension.

However, sometimes it is not as clear cut as that. For example, if you have had a 12 month working holiday visa but you have also been travelling outside Australia during this time, the 12 month guideline is actually measured since your last arrival in Australia, so you may still be able to meet visitor visa requirements. This can get quite tricky and must be carefully managed.

If you hold a student visa, you will generally need to be able to provide adequate evidence that you have completed your course of study.

Another factor to consider is the conditions on your current visa. If you have a ‘no further stay’ – 8503 condition on your visa you cannot apply for a visitor visa ‘onshore’ (that is – while you are in Australia) – or in fact any other visa- unless you first have the no further stay condition waived. We can assist with this waiver exercise..

There are of course a lot of other different scenarios, but as you can see, when applying for a visitor visa there are a lot of variables to consider beyond the ‘normal’ requirements.

What are the ‘normal’ requirements?

In very basic terms, to be granted a visitor visa you must meet the four main requirements for a visitor visa. These are:


You must have the funds to support yourself because the visitor visa does not allow you to work while you are in Australia. There is no specific amount of money you must have as the amount you need depends on your planned activities. For example, if you are planning on staying in 5 star hotels and eating at expensive restaurants you will need quite a lot of money. But if you are staying with your family and eating at home most nights, you will need less money to support yourself.

Genuine Visitor:

To meet the requirements for a visitor visa you must be assessed as being a ‘genuine visitor’. This will include for example consideration of how much time you have been in Australia, what you have been doing so far, what you plan to do, whether you have friends and family here and a variety of other factors which are specific to individual situations.

Incentive to return home:

Another part of being a genuine visitor is being able to prove that you intend to return home at the end of your visa. This is where many applicants fail to evidence properly and therefore have their visas refused. How you evidence this will depend on your exact situation, but common factors to consider are:

  • Do you have a job to return to or schooling to finish in your home country?
  • Do you have employment or other business activities in your home country?
  • Do you own any assets in your home country?
  • Do you have any social/family ties in your home country?
  • Are you considering starting a family when you return home?
  • Are you considering further travel after Australia?

Health and character:

All applicants must meet health and character requirements for visas to Australia. Depending on a number of factors including your age, places you have spent time in the last 10 years and length of intended stay in Australia, you may need to complete health tests and in some cases police clearances.

Visitor visas can be far more complex than you may first think. For example, what happens if you are applying for a visitor visa to gain extra time to meet the “12 month living together requirement” to enable you to apply for a de facto partner visa in Australia? How you present your application can be critical. You need to know what is ok to say and what is not ok to say. This is where using a specialist migration advisor can be critical.

Some suggestions:

Make life easier for yourself – don’t be greedy! The amount of evidence you are required to provide often depends on the length of time you are asking for. In some circumstances no documents are required at all. So sometimes it pays not to be too greedy with your request!

Prepare early! This is an absolute key. We often encounter people who leave things until the last minute. All this does is harm your chances and close down your options through lack of preparation time. If there is one thing you take away from this article my hope is that you remember to prepare early. Leave yourself some breathing space and time to prepare or work through your options with your migration agent.

Understand your range of options. Sometimes a visitor visa is the right way to go – but sometimes it isn’t, or there may be a better option. Again, one of the keys to getting this right is allowing plenty of time. If you contact us early we can help you plan your immediate, medium and long term visas. If you contact us just before your visa is due to expire we may have far fewer options for you.

Online applications:

One of the great things about applying for a visitor visa in Australia is that in almost all cases you will be able to make your application online. We can assist you in preparing your application.

Next steps:

We can assist applicants and friends to obtain visitor visas -depending upon your circumstances- for the purpose of tourism and recreational purposes. The term ‘visitor’ and ‘tourist’ are often used interchangeably in this space. Some countries have informal restrictions (called ‘risk factors) depending on the age and sex of the visitor which make the task of obtaining a visa more difficult. Generally more detail is required where there are risk factors present.

Visitors from certain ‘eligible’ countries may be able to access the e-676 (to apply for a subsequent SC600 Visitor visa by way of extension), Electronic Authority (ETA) 601 or e-Visitor (SC651) on-line. Visitor grant periods are usually 12 months BUT stay periods for these short term visitor visas is usually 3 months.

Visitors from non-eligible countries or refused overseas tourist visas

For those not clients not able to access stream-lined e-visitor visas, or other on-line options, the only alternative is the Sub-class 600 Tourist visa , which is a hard-copy application processed in the applicant’s home country. Signet can assist in the preparation and lodgement of these visitor visas, as they require a physical application and quite often substantial supporting documents.

If visitor visas have been refused the first time around, then it is advisable to seek professional assistance to overcome this hurdle to a successful next attempt! We can also assist in visitor extensions whilst visitors are in Australia and wish to stay for longer. *** Please contact us for further information