Visa Requirements for Australia

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The most common visa for visiting Australia as a tourist is an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). This allows most foreigners to stay in the country for three months at a time, as often as they'd like within a 12-month period. Some travelers can avoid the $15 service charge of the ETA by getting an eVisitor visa instead. This is granted only to those whose countries have strong ties to Australia, and takes longer to process. Other short-term visas include the standard visitor visa (available for up to one year) and working holiday visas, which are designed to let young tourists work temporary jobs while they travel. People from New Zealand don't need any kind of visa to visit their island neighbor.

As for longer-term stays, Australia offers visas for students and workers, as well as permanent resident visas to sponsored employees and family members.

Visa Type How Long Is It Valid? Required Documents Application Fees
Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) Three months A valid passport from an eligible country, medical records, and intent to leave $15
eVisitor Visa Three months A valid passport from an eligible country, medical records, and intent to leave Free
Visitor Visa Three, six, or 12 months, depending on visa type A valid passport, adequate funds, and intent to leave $100 to $760, depending on visa type
Student Visa Up to five years Enrollment in an Australian educational institution, medical coverage, and welfare arrangement $445
Working Holiday Visa One to three years, with extensions A valid passport, adequate funds, and intent to leave $350
Short-Stay Work Visa Three months or more, depending on the visa Proof of highly specialized skills, knowledge, or experience, and, in some cases, sponsorship $200 to $3,000, depending on visa type
Permanent Work Visa Permanent Nomination from an employer, proof of age, proof of skills and knowledge of English $3,000
Family Visa Permanent Proof of relationship (as a partner, parent, child, or grandparent) to an Australian resident, proof of funds $4,000 to $6,000, depending on visa type
Transit Visa Up to 72 hours A valid passport and travel booking Free

Electronic Travel Authority

Most tourists—except those from New Zealand and who qualify for the eVisitor visa—must obtain an Electronic Travel Authority, better known as an ETA, to visit Australia for up to three months. Designed for those who do not meet the requirements of the eVisitor visa (which is only available to nationals of 36 European countries), this is the most common tourist visa, available to citizens of the U.S., Canada, and the 30 other countries listed on the Australian Government website.

Visa Fees and Application

The ETA (subclass 601) is valid for tourism or business travel (including cruise ship stopovers) for up to three months, as often as desired within a 12-month period.

  • Applicants must have a valid passport from an eligible country, meet the health requirements of the Australian Government , and intend only to stay in the country temporarily.
  • The ETA itself is free, but the service charge is about $15.
  • It must be applied for outside of Australia and can be submitted online.
  • ETAs can't be extended. In order to stay longer, you must apply for another ETA or a different visa .
  • ETA applications can be submitted anywhere from a couple of days to a year in advance of your trip. Allow 72 hours for processing, but in most cases, you'll receive a response within minutes.

eVisitor Visa

More than 30 European countries, including France, Italy, the UK, Germany, Spain, and the Scandinavian nations qualify for the eVisitor visa (subclass 651)—essentially a free version of the ETA. Like the ETA, an eVisitor visa is valid for unlimited business or leisure stays of up to three months within a 12-month period. It can also be used for short-term study and training.

Visa Fees and Application

One major reason to apply for an ETA instead of an eVisitor visa is because of the processing time.

  • In order to qualify, applicants must hold a valid passport from one of the qualifying countries and must not have tuberculosis or a criminal conviction.
  • The eVisitor visa is fully free. No application fees or service charges are required.
  • It must be applied for outside of Australia and can be submitted online.
  • Whereas ETAs are typically processed on the same day, eVisitor visas can take anywhere between three days and several months to process. According to the Australian Government, 90 percent of applications are processed within nine months . It's best to apply for it a year in advance of your trip.
  • The eVisitor visa can't be extended.

Visitor Visa

The standard visitor visa (subclass 600) is a more comprehensive version of the ETA and eVisitor visas. It can be granted for three, six, or 12 months at a time, as opposed to just three . It's good for frequent visits and longer stays on the basis of travel, family, or business.

Visa Fees and Application

The requirements and cost of the visitor visa—also called a "tourist stream"—varies by circumstance.

  • Business visitors will only be granted three-month stays on the tourist stream, but family members may be granted 12 months.
  • In order to apply, you must have a valid passport, enough funds to cover your trip, and an intention to leave Australia after the visa expires.
  • The cost of the visa varies: Applying from Australia costs $260, applying from outside of Australia costs $100, applying for business or to visit family costs $100, and applying for the frequent traveler stream (meaning you can get unlimited three-months visits within a 10-year period) costs $760.
  • In some cases, sponsors (i.e. family members) may be asked to pay an additional security bond.
  • Processing can take from 10 days to four months.

Student Visa

Australia's student visa (subclass 500) is granted to people aged 6 and older for up to five years, depending on your enrollment . Applicants must provide proof of acceptance into an Australian course of study, hold Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) unless you fall into an exemption category, and provide what's called a "welfare arrangement" (either a legal guardian who has a visa to stay in Australia for the duration of your studies or arrangements with your school) if you're under 18. The student visa costs $445 and can be applied for online while in or out of Australia. It also covers any family members who come with you and allows students to work up to 40 hours per week while studying. It can take anywhere between one and four months for processing, depending on the circumstance. Student visas do not qualify for extensions. In order to stay for longer, students must apply for another student visa.

Work Visas

There are several different Australian visas on offer for prospective workers. Whereas the visitor visa allows non-citizens to stay in the country for three months on the premise of business, it doesn't allow you to earn a wage from an Australian institution like its work visas do. The three primary options are a working holiday visa, designed for travelers between the ages of 18 and 30 (35 for Canadian, French, and Irish nationals) to holiday and work in Australia for 12 months , a temporary work visa for skilled workers , and a permanent work visa, which requires employer sponsorship and grants permanent resident status in Australia .

Only passport holders from the more-than-40 eligible countries (including the U.S., Canada, the UK, the EU, Japan, South Korea, Scandinavian countries, and others) qualify for the working holiday scheme. Each country is offered a certain number of slots, so applications are picked randomly from a pool.

Visa Required Documents Fees When to Apply How Long Does the Visa Take to Process? How Long Can You Stay?
Working Holiday Visa Passport from an eligible country, proof of funds $350 At least three months in advance 45 days to three months One year or three years, with extensions
Temporary Work Visa Proof of highly specialized skills, knowledge, or experience, and, in some cases, proof of sponsorship $200 to $3,000 Depends on the visa 19 days to seven months Three months to four years, depending on visa
Permanent Work Visa Nomination from an employer, proof of age, proof of skills and knowledge of English $3,000 Depends on the visa Four to seven months Indefinitely

Family Visas

Family visas are granted to partners, parents, children, and grandparents of Australian citizens and residents. There are more than 20 different types of family visas, from adoption visas to carer and remaining relative visas, and each of them has its own price and set of requirements.

For couples, the partner visa costs $5,500 and requires proof of the relationship. It must be applied for from within Australia and can take up to two years to process. The permanent visa offered to parents of Australian residents and citizens costs slightly less, $4,600, and must be applied for from outside Australia. The Australian Government does not give processing times for the parent visa because of the possibility of capping and queueing.

Transit Visa

The transit visa (subclass 771) is good for short stopovers of up to 72 hours. It's free, can be applied for easily online, and requires only a confirmed booking and a valid visa. Travelers must apply and be granted the transit visa from outside of Australia before being allowed into the country. Some travelers—from a list of countries including the U.S., the U.K., much of the EU, United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Japan, and parts of South America—do not require a transit visa to travel through Australia. The visa can take between four and 15 days to process .

Visa Overstays

According to the Australian Government, visa overstayers may be faced with detainment or removal from Australia, and may also be billed for the cost of said removal . If you are discovered to have not held a valid visa upon leaving Australia, the government can also refuse to grant you a visa for up to three years.

Extending Your Visa

ETAs, eVisitor visas, and standard visitor visas are not able to be extended, but in most cases, you can re-apply for the same visa (for another fee). In the case of working holiday visas, a second and third visa (each valid for one year) may be granted to those who meet the requirements of farm work within the country .

If you find that your visa has expired or is about to expire, you can also apply for a Bridging visa E (BVE)—an extension alternative. The BVE is free and allows you to stay lawfully and temporarily in Australia while you arrange for travel out of the country or wait for another visa to process .

Article Sources
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  2. Australian Government. "Immigration and citizenship: Electronic Travel Authority."

  3. Australian Government. "Immigration and citizenship: eVisitor."

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  5. Australian Government. "Student Visa."

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  8. Australian Government. "Permanent work visas."

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  11. Australian Government. "Transit Visa."

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  13. Australian Government. "Bridging visa E."

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