Understanding the Australia Visa System

by Jules on July 4, 2011

Should you wish to visit, work in or immigrate to Australia, you will need to apply for the relevant Australia visa. The Australia visa system can appear complicated, so it is important to research the process and eligibility requirements fully. The aim of this article is to outline the process and eligibility requirements in simple terms so that those considering a trip to Australia are well prepared for the process.

Australia is a popular choice for British emigration. A recent survey undertaken by Currency UK, a foreign exchange broker, revealed that three in 10 Brits would like to immigrate to Australia. Comparing this recent survey with the same one conducted in 2005, we can see that the number of Brits who would consider moving out of the UK has increased from a quarter to a nearly a third.

To many, Australia seems to offer a better quality of living and a better work/life balance than the UK. Its good climate, strong economy and the lack of language barrier make Australia a popular choice among Brits considering moving abroad permanently.

Should you be considering making the move to Australia, it is important to ensure that you have a clear and realistic understanding of the Australia visa process and its eligibility requirements.

Even for a short holiday trip to Australia, a visa is required. A brief stay of less than three months, for the purpose of sightseeing, visiting friends or relatives and other non-working activities, requires a Short Stay Tourist visa (known as an ETA tourist visa). To apply for an ETA tourist visa you must hold a passport from an eligible country and fulfil a list of conditions, including that you must not work while in Australia. Holders of a UK passport can apply for an ETA tourist visa online and it is usually a straightforward process.

Travellers who wish to stay in Australia for between three months and one year need to apply for a Long Stay tourist visa. The length of the visa you may be granted depends on your personal circumstances and the purpose of your visit. As with the ETA, you must hold a valid passport from an eligible country and agree not to work while in Australia.

If you need to travel to Australia for business purposes then you will need either a Short Stay Business visa or a Long Validity Business visa, depending on whether you need to make just one trip of up to three months in length or several. With a Long Validity Business visa, you can make business trips of up to three months in length for as long as your passport is valid.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 31 and wish to work in Australia, you can apply for an Australia Working Holiday visa, also known as the WHM visa. This visa is for the purpose of trips under 24 months in length that are primarily for leisure. It does, however, give travellers casual work rights in order to supplement their travels. Work undertaken must be incidental to the main purpose of holidaying and you must not be employed for more than six months with any one employer.

The basic requirements of a Working Holiday visa are as follows:

  • You must be between 18 and 31 years old.
  • You must have a valid passport with at least one year until renewal.
  • You must have sufficient funds to support yourself when you arrive in Australia.
  • You must not have any substantial criminal convictions.
  • You must not have any problematic medical issues.

If you want to make your move to Australia a permanent one, and have the right to live and work there, you can apply for a visa through the General Skilled Migration program. This is the only path for skilled workers wanting to immigrate to Australia and there is a rigorous application process.

Applicants for the GSM programme need to pass a points test. This awards points in a number of relevant categories including skill, age, language, specific work experience, Australian work experience, Australian qualifications, regional study, partner skills, nomination, designated area sponsorship and designated language.

Other categories of permanent migration visa are the Business visa for successful businesspeople, investors and senior executives; the Family visa for those with family who can sponsor their move to Australia, and the Partner visa which is designed for those in a relationship with an Australian or eligible New Zealand citizen. Each of these has their own set of strict requirements.

Should you feel that you are eligible for an Australia visa then it is advisable to research all aspects of the process before you apply. In the case of an immigration visa, there are lots of different considerations; perhaps even before you begin the assessment process.

If you decide to apply for a Permanent Immigration visa then it is advisable to seek specialist advice to guide you through the requirements. That way, the application process can be a smooth one and the beginning of your new life in Australia will be as stress free as possible.

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