Visa policy of Australia
|Entry and exit stamps.|
The visa policy of Australia deals with the requirements which a foreign national wishing to enter Australia must meet to obtain a visa, which is a permit to travel to, enter and remain in the country. Visa rules are set out in the Migration Act 1958 and the Migration Regulations, which are administered by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
Australia maintains a universal visa regime. Every non-citizen in Australia must have a visa, either as a result of an application, or one granted automatically by law. Australia gives a visitor visa exemption to:
- citizens of one of the 36 eVisitor or 9 Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) eligible countries,
- citizens of New Zealand, under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, or
- visitors eligible for visa-free travel under other laws such as Special purpose visa.
In addition to the citizens of 45 eVisitor and ETA eligible countries and the citizens of New Zealand who may need to apply for a Visitor visa, the citizens of all other countries may apply for the Visitor visa online, except citizens of 18 ineligible countries. Citizens of 34 countries are officially considered low risk.
Recent changes in visa procedures mean that almost all visas (including permanent residency visas) are issued electronically by default, unless if a label is required (for example to board an airplane). That means that a visa is not normally endorsed on the passport but confirmation of approval is provided.
- 1 Visa types
- 2 Visitor visa policy map
- 3 Reciprocity issues
- 4 Future
- 5 Electronic visas
- 6 Visa exemptions
- 7 External territories
- 8 Overstaying visas
- 9 SmartGate
- 10 Enforcement of visa restrictions
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
- Visitor visa - for people who need to come to Australia for a short duration for tourism or business purposes. They are issued for visits up to 3, 6 or 12 months, except for Chinese citizens who are issued 10-year multiple entry visas.
- Transit visa (subclass 771)1 - for people who wish to transit through Australia and who do not qualify for transit without a visa or people travelling to Australia to join a vessel as crew.
- Medical treatment (subclass 602)2 - for people to have medical treatment or medical consultations, donate an organ or support the person who is having medical treatment in Australia but not to have medical treatment for surrogate motherhood.
- Working holiday visa (subclass 417)1 - for people aged 18 to 30 years of age, who are interested to have an extended holiday while supplementing their funds with short-term work of up to 12 months and who come from Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan or the United Kingdom.
- Work and holiday visa (subclass 462)1 - for people aged 18 to 30 years of age, who are interested to have an extended holiday while supplementing their funds with short-term work of up to 12 months and who come from Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Poland, Thailand, Turkey, the USA or Uruguay.
- Special program (subclass 416)1 - for people to participate in approved programs that provide opportunities for cultural enrichment and community benefit.
1 – must apply for this visa outside Australia.
2 – can apply for this visa in or outside Australia.
- Permanent residency visa - authorises the permanent resident to remain in Australia indefinitely and to work, as well as many other benefits such medical health coverage under Medicare.
- Resident Return Visa (RRV) (subclasses 155 and 157) - allows permanent residents to travel to another country and re-enter the Australian migration zone. RRVs allow the holder to re-enter Australia as often as they wish during the validity of the visa. RRVs may be issued with five years' or three months' validity.
- Special Category Visa - issued under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement to citizens of New Zealand who present a valid New Zealand passport and authorises the holder to enter Australia, live and work indefinitely. The visa is subject to the following conditions: no criminal convictions, no untreated tuberculosis and have not been deported, excluded or removed from any country. The visa is given on arrival at any Australian port, unless they already hold another type of Australian visa.
- Permanent Resident of Norfolk Island visa (PRNIV) - permanent residents of Norfolk Island may apply for a PRNIV at an Australian airport.
Visitor visa policy map
Whilst citizens of all Member States of the European Union and Schengen associated countries are entitled to use the eVisitor system since 27 October 2008, the European Commission is still assessing whether the eVisitor visa fully satisfies reciprocity requirements. In its Seventh report on certain third countries' maintenance of visa requirements in breach of the principle of reciprocity from 2012, the European Commission found that in principle, the eVisitor provides equal treatment of the citizens of all Member States and Schengen associated countries. However, while the average autogrant rate was high (86.36%), the quarterly reports on eVisitor application statistics showed that applications by citizens of some Member States are mainly processed manually. Autogrant rates for Bulgaria and Romania were at just 18% and 23%, as the majority of applications were sent for additional examination. The Commission therefore engaged to continue to closely monitor the processing of eVisitor applications. The Commission would submit its assessment of whether eVisitor is equivalent to the Schengen visa application process in a separate document in parallel with the assessment of the Final Rule on ESTA. Currently the Schengen Area does not have visa requirements in place for short-term stays of Australian nationals. The United Kingdom and Ireland are exempt from this particular EU policy, but still do not impose any short-term visa requirements on Australians.
In 2014 Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania, which are not yet part of the Schengen Area, have notified the European Commission that they consider Australia requires a visa for their citizens. Implications are that if the notification is accepted the EU may suspend the visa exemption for certain categories of Australian nationals and at the latest six months after publication of the regulation, the Commission may decide to suspend the visa-free access to all Australian citizens.
Some countries regard the ETA as being equivalent to visa-free travel when deciding whether to grant the same to Australians wishing to enter their territory. The United States, for example, offers their Visa Waiver Program to Australian passport-holders, and one of the conditions for joining this scheme is that "Governments provide reciprocal visa-free travel for U.S. citizens for 90 days for tourism or business purposes". However, United States require from January 2009 similar ETA from citizens of Australia and some more countries. This system is not called visa, but Electronic System for Travel Authorization, therefore the USA still allows visa-free travel for Australians. As of December 1998, Japan has also granted visa-free access to Australians. Other ETA eligible countries and territories Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea (90 days) and Taiwan (30 days) also grant visa-free access to Australians while Brunei grants Australians a 30 day visa on arrival.
eVisitor and Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) are authorisations for entry to Australia available to holders of certain passports. Established in 1996 to remove the need for some people to apply for full visas, they can be applied for online, or in certain ETA cases through travel agents, airlines, specialist service providers or Australian visa offices. Electronic tourist visas (class 600) are processed by Australian visa offices and consulates outside Australia but the citizens of certain countries can apply online and their applications, if a requested period of stay is three months or less, and no further information or checking is required, may be granted in a matter of minutes. In other cases, the application will be manually processed by a case officer.
eVisitor visas (subclass 651)
The eVisitor visa was introduced on 27 October 2008, replacing an older eVisa system, to create a reciprocal short stay travel arrangement for nationals of Australia and the European Commission, while still maintaining the universal visa system. On 23 March 2013 the business and tourist purpose eVisitors visas were merged into a single application. The eVisitor visa is available to citizens of all 28 European Union member states and 8 other European countries that are part of the Schengen Area.
The eVisitor visa is issued free of charge and allows a stay of up to 3 months at a time in a 12-month period for tourism or business purposes. At the time of travel to, and entry into, Australia, all holders of an eVisitor visa must be free from tuberculosis and must not have any criminal convictions for which the sentence or sentences (whether served or not) total 12 months or more.
Holders of the following passports are eligible:
The grant rate of eVisitor visas has been consistently high over the years, never dropping below 98.9%. In the first quarter of 2014 the lowest approval rates for tourism applications were for the citizens of Romania (71.6%), Croatia (78.1%), Bulgaria (78.3%), Latvia (84.4%) and Lithuania (89.7%) with all other countries having a grant rate above 95%. The eVisitor visa in 2013 was granted automatically to 85.8% of applicants but the rates differed significantly among countries. The lowest automatically granted rates in the 4th quarter were for the citizens of Bulgaria (16.2%), Romania (18.3%), Czech Republic (58.6%), Lithuania (59.3%), Slovakia (66.3%), Latvia (62.4%), Poland (71.6%) and Hungary (77.7%) with all other countries having an automatic grant rate above 80%.
In 2014 Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania notified the European Commission that they consider Australia requires a visa for their citizens. If the notification is accepted, the EU may suspend the visa exemption for certain categories of Australian nationals and may suspend the reciprocal visa-free access to all Australian citizens.
Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) (subclass 601)
Development of the ETA system commenced in January 1996. It was first implemented in Singapore on a trial basis on 11 September 1996, for holders of a Singapore and US passport travelling on Qantas and Singapore Airlines. Implementation of online applications began in June 2001. The current ETA came into effect on 23 March 2013 replacing older ETAs (subclass 976, 977 and 956) and offering a single authorization for both tourist and business purposes.
The ETA allows a stay of up to 3 months at a time in a 12-month period for tourism or business purposes. There is no visa application charge but a service charge of AU$20 applies. At the time of travel to, and entry into, Australia, all holders of an ETA must be free from tuberculosis and must not have any criminal convictions for which the sentence or sentences (whether served or not) total 12 months or more.
Holders of the following passports can apply online:
Citizens of Taiwan and the citizens of 24 eVisitor eligible countries may also apply for the ETA but solely through a travel agent, airline, specialist service provider or an Australian visa office outside Australia.
Online Visitor visa (e600)
Since November 2012, visa labels in passport have not been required, but can be issued at a traveller's request for a fee of AU$150.
On 23 March 2013, a new Visitor visa (subclass 600) replaced the previous Tourist visa (subclass 676). Eligible travellers can apply for this visa online (e600 visa). Since August 2014, in addition to countries eligible for the eVisitor and ETA, online applications for the Online Visitor visa can be made by citizens of all countries except those of the following 18 countries:
In the 4th quarter of 2013 the automatic grant rate for electronically lodged applications outside Australia stood at 28.3%. Previously the rate ranged from 20.4% to 63.2%.
Special purpose visa
A special purpose visa is a visa given by operation of law to certain non-citizens in Australia to whom standard visa and immigration clearance arrangements do not apply. It effectively exempts certain persons from the normal processes for entry into Australia. These include members of the Royal Family and the members of the Royal party, guests of Government, SOFA forces members including civilian component members, Asia‑Pacific forces members, Commonwealth forces members, foreign armed forces dependents, foreign naval forces members, airline positioning crew members and airline crew members, eligible transit passengers, persons visiting Macquarie Island, eligible children born in Australia and Indonesian traditional fishermen visiting the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands.
Transit without visa
Some travelers do not need a transit visa if they depart Australia by air within 8 hours of the scheduled time of their arrival, hold confirmed onward booking and documentation necessary to enter the country of their destination and remain in the transit lounge at an airport (i.e. they do not need to personally re-check their luggage).
Holders of the following passports can transit through Australia under this arrangement:
- eVisitor eligible passports
- ETA eligible passports
- Citizens of these countries:
- Residents of Taiwan holding a passport issued by the authorities of Taiwan (other than passports purported to be official or diplomatic passports).
- People holding British passports (irrespective of endorsement in passport regarding national status).
- People who are nationals of the People's Republic of China and who hold Hong Kong (SAR China) passports.
- People who hold diplomatic passports.
Residents of thirteen coastal villages in Papua New Guinea are permitted to enter the 'Protected Zone' of the Torres Strait (part of Queensland) for traditional purposes. This exemption from passport control is part of a treaty between Australia and Papua New Guinea negotiated when PNG became independent from Australia in 1975. Full list was determined in 2000 and includes the following 13 villages – Bula, Mari, Jarai, Tais, Buji/Ber, Sigabadaru, Mabadauan, Old Mawatta, Ture Ture, Kadawa, Katatai, Parama and Sui. They can make traditional visits (free movement without passports) into the as far as the 10 degrees 30 minutes South latitude (near Number One Reef). Australian traditional inhabitants come from the following villages – Badu, Boigu, Poruma (Coconut Island), Erub (Darnley Island), Dauan, Kubin, St Pauls, Mabuiag, Mer (Murray Island), Saibai, Ugar (Stephen Island), Warraber (Sue Island), Iama (Yam Island) and Masig (Yorke Island). They can make traditional visits to the Papua New Guinea Treaty Villages and travel north as far as the 9 degrees South latitude (just north of Daru). Vessels from other parts of Papua New Guinea and other countries attempting to cross into Australia or Australian waters are stopped by Australian Customs or the Royal Australian Navy.
- Australian Antarctic Territory – an environmental authorisation must be obtained, based on an environmental impact assessment (EIA) submitted by the organiser of the activity. In some cases, where an activity organised in another country party to the Treaty and Protocol, Australia will recognise an authorisation provided by that country. As well as an environmental authorisation, permits are required for certain activities.
- Christmas Island – Passports and visas are not required when travelling from the Australian mainland. However, photographic identification must be produced for clearance through Customs and Immigration. Normal Australian Customs and Immigration procedures apply when entry is made from outside Australia.
- Cocos (Keeling) Islands – Passports and visas are not required when travelling from the Australian mainland. However, photographic identification must be produced for clearance through Customs and Immigration. Normal Australian Customs and Immigration procedures apply when entry is made from outside Australia.
- Heard Island and McDonald Islands – a permit to enter and undertake activities in the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands is required and is issued by the Australian Antarctic Division.
- Macquarie Island – a written authorisation of the Director of National Parks and Wildlife is required.
- Norfolk Island – All visitors require a passport. All visitors require an Australian visa except for persons travelling on an Australian or New Zealand passport or persons holding a passport endorsed with Permanent Resident of Norfolk Island visa label.
Non-citizens who remain in Australia after their visa has expired are termed overstayers. Official government sources put the number of visa overstayers in Australia at approximately 50,000. This has been the official number of illegal immigrants for about 25 years and is considered to be low. Other sources have placed it at up to 100,000, but no detailed study has been completed to quantify this number, which could be significantly higher.
The government calculates a "Modified Non-Return Rate" of the people who arrive on a Visitor visa granted outside Australia, but do not depart before their visa expires. It is considered when assessing visa applications as an indicator of Visitor visa compliance.
|Antigua and Barbuda||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|Brunei Darussalam2 3||0.74||0.35||0.62|
|Central African Republic||N/A4||0.00||0.00|
|China, People's Republic of||0.39||0.32||0.29|
|Democratic Republic of Congo||2.99||5.33||7.27|
|Korea, Dem Peoples Rep Of||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|Korea, Republic of2 3||0.89||1.02||1.02|
|Papua New Guinea||1.31||0.86||0.82|
|San Marino1 3||0.00||0.00||2.42|
|Sao Tome & Principe||N/A4||0.00||N/A4|
|Serbia and Montenegro||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||0.00||0.00||0.00|
|Trinidad and Tobago||0.95||0.31||1.04|
|UN Convention Refugee||9.19||4.40||2.63|
|United Arab Emirates||0.31||0.38||0.34|
|United Kingdom1 3||0.68||0.69||0.58|
|United Nations Organisation||0.00||0.97||0.00|
|United States of America2 3||0.74||0.73||0.51|
|Vatican City1 3||0.00||0.00||0.00|
1 - eVisitor eligible
2 - online ETA eligible
3 - officially considered low risk
4 - N/A indicates that no arrivals were recorded for this citizenship during the reporting period
SmartGate is an automated border processing system being introduced by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and New Zealand Customs Service. The SmartGate is available to eligible Australian and New Zealand ePassport holders and:
- Canadian ePassport holders aged 16 years or over
- Irish ePassport holders aged 16 years or over
- Singaporean ePassport holders aged 16 years or over
- Swiss ePassport holders aged 16 years or over arriving at Sydney Airport
- United Kingdom ePassport holders aged 16 years or over
- United States ePassport holders aged 16 years and over who are US Global Entry Program members
Enforcement of visa restrictions
On 1 June 2013, the Migration Amendment (Reform of Employer Sanctions) Act 2013 commenced and put the onus on businesses to ensure that their employees maintain the necessary work entitlements in Australia. The new legislation enables the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to levy infringement notices against business (AUD $15,300) and individual (AUD $3,060) employers on a strict liability basis – meaning that there is no requirement to prove fault, negligence or intention.
- Tourism in Australia
- Australian migration zone
- Visa requirements for Australian citizens
- Immigration to Australia
- s.29 Migration Act 1958
- "Visa Information - Australia". Timatic. IATA. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- The list of ETA eligible passports which are considered low risk
- Visitors - Visas & Immigration
- Visa Application Charges
- Visitor visa (subclass 600)
- Visas for Chinese tourists: Mainland Chinese enthused about longer visas included in FTA
- New China visa set to boost visitor numbers
- Transit Visa (Subclass 771)
- Medical Treatment Visa (Subclass 602)
- Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417)
- Work and Holiday Visa (Subclass 462)
- Special Program Visa (Subclass 416)
- "Resident Return Visas (Subclasses 155 and 157)". Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
- "Fact Sheet 17 – New Zealanders in Australia". Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Fact Sheet 59 - Immigration Arrangements for Norfolk Island". Department of Immigration & Border Protection. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "COM(2012) 681 final REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL - Seventh report on certain third countries' maintenance of visa requirements in breach of the principle of reciprocity" (.pdf). European Commission.
- "Same visa policy for all European Union Member States". EUROPA. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- Office for Official Publications of the European Communities (2001-03-21). "Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001" (PDF). Official Journal of the European Communities 44 (L 81): 1–7; Article 1(2) and Annex II. (subscription required (. ))
- "Visa and Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV) nationals". UK Visas. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- "Do I need a visa to come to Ireland?". Department of Foreign Affairs, Government of Ireland. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- "Information from the Commission about notifications by the Member States of cases of non-reciprocity in accordance with Article 1(4)(a) of Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 as amended by Regulation (EU) No 1289/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council". European Commission. 12 April 2014. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
- EU gives US six months to come clean on visa policy
- "Visa Waiver Program (VWP)". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- "Visa Waiver Program - How a Country Qualifies". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- "Visa Free Entry to Japan for Short-term Visitors from Australia". Department of Immigration and Citizenship. 1998-11-05. Archived from the original on 2007-06-09. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- "Countries and territories whose citizens do not need a visa (visa exemptions)". Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Visit Visa / Entry Permit Requirements for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region". Immigration Department of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Visa Requirement by Country". Immigration Department of Malaysia. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Visa Requirements for Entry into Singapore". High Commission of The Republic of Singapore - London. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Nationals of countries or regions allowed for visa-free entry". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Visa-Exempt Entry". Bureau of Consular Affairs. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Visa Information". Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- Australia mulls visa waiver for Gulf nationals
- "Fact Sheet 53 – Australia's Entry System for Visitors". Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "eVisitor (subclass 651)". Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "eVisitor: Frequently asked questions for clients" (PDF). Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- Excluding British National (Overseas), British Overseas Territories citizen, British Overseas citizen, British protected person or British Subject passport.
- "For eVisitor Applicants - Who can apply". Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Report" (PDF). Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Report" (PDF). Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
- EU gives US six months to come clean on visa policy
- "Policy study on an EU Electronic System for travel Authorization (EU ESTA) - Annexes: Introduction of the ETA, eVisitor and eVisa systems" (PDF). PricewaterhouseCoopers. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601)". Australian - Embassy Republic of Korea. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Electronic Travel Authority (Subclass 601)". Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "For Electronic Travel Authority Applicants - Who can apply". Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom (British Citizen, British National-Overseas), Vatican City.
- About Your Visa
- "Visitor Visa (Subclass 600)". Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Visitor (e600) Visa – Online Applications". Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Online lodgement Arrangements for Subclass 600". Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
- Faster Australian visitor visa application now in place for more countries
- Australia takes global lead with e-visa technology
- "Migration Regulations 1994 - Specification of Class of Persons - IMMI 14/104". ComLaw. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- Visitor e600 visa online applications
- "Migration Act 1958, taking into account amendments up to Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Act 2013". Australian Government - ComLaw. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Migration Regulations 1994, taking into account amendments up to Migration Amendment (Visa Application Charge) Regulation 2013". Australian Government - ComLaw. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- Transit without visa arrangements - When a visa is not needed
- Not applicable to nationals of these countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Comoros, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, the Republic of Yemen, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Arab Non-National Passport Holders (ANNPH) or Taiwanese holding diplomatic or official passports.
- KLM - Visa Information
- "Torres Strait Treaty and You - What is free movement for traditional activities?". Australian Government = Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- Environmental approvals for tour and expedition organisers
- Christmas Island traveller information
- Cocos (Keeling) Islands traveller information
- Can I visit Heard Island?
- Guidelines for Tourist Operations and Visits
- Guidelines for Tourist Visits to Macquarie Island Nature Reserve and World Heritage Area
- Customs & Immigration
- Modified Non-Return Rate Quarterly Report Ending at 30 June 2013
- SmartGate > Who can use
- "Employer Sanctions Legislation - vSure - Visa Checks Made Easy". vSure. 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
- "Fact Sheet - Employing Legal Workers". Immi.gov.au. 2008-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-22.
- Department of Immigration & Border Protection