Do you want to hear that cute Australian accent while exploring the iconic Sydney Opera House or road tripping along the Great Ocean Road? Then it’s time to get an Australian tourist visa.
With budget airlines flying direct from Manila to Sydney and Melbourne, our dream of exploring the smallest continent in the world is within reach.
In this article, I will show you a Do-It-Yourself guide to getting an Australian visa focusing on tourism as a purpose; enumerate the documents needed to support your application; the steps to take when applying as a group, and give you tips and warnings based on my personal experience from applying twice.
Table of Contents
- What Are the Different Types of Australian Visas?
- What Is Visitor Visa (Subclass 600) – Tourist Stream?
- What Are the Requirements for the Australian Tourist Visa Application?
- 1. Form 1419 (Application for Visitor Visa – Tourist Stream)
- 2. Documents to show your identity
- 3. Documents to show you are a visitor
- 4. Documents to show your financial capacity
- 5. For minor applicants
- 6. Additional requirements
- How Much Does an Australian Tourist Visa Cost?
- How To Get an Australian Tourist Visa in the Philippines: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Tips and Warnings
- Frequently Asked Questions
- 1. I’m traveling with my family/relatives/friends. How can we apply for an Australian tourist visa as a group?
- 2. How long is the validity of the Australian tourist visa?
- 3. Can I get a multiple-entry tourist visa to Australia? How?
- 4. Can I authorize another person to apply for my Australian visa?
- 5. I plan to travel to Sydney in the summer. When should I apply for the visa and how long is the processing time of visa application?
- 6. How much “show money” do you need in your bank account to go to Australia?
- 7. I am planning to visit my fiance in Australia. My fiance said he is willing to provide everything. I am confused as to what visa I should get. What shall I do if someone is sponsoring my trip to Australia?
- 8. I do not have a strong travel history. What are my chances of getting an Australian tourist visa?
- 9. Do I need to take medical examinations for my Australian visa application? If yes, what are the exams/tests needed and how do I go about it?
- 10. I was granted a 3-month Australian tourist visa. Is it possible to work in Australia during this period? What type of work can I do during this period?
- 11. I just submitted my application. My plans have changed and I no longer want to go to Australia. Can I withdraw my application? If I do, can I get a refund of the visa fee?
- 12. What are the reasons for my visa application to be denied?
What Are the Different Types of Australian Visas?
Australia offers a wide range of visas depending on the purpose of your visit. It can be visitor visas, studying and training visas, family and partner visas, working and skilled visas, refugee and humanitarian visas, and other types of visas. These types of visas are further subdivided into different categories depending on the specific purpose of your stay.
For a visitor visa, it is further subdivided into 6 different categories, namely:
- Electronic Travel Authority (Subclass 601)
- eVisitor (Subclass 651)
- Transit visa (Subclass 771)
- Visitor visa (Subclass 600)
- Work and Holiday visa (Subclass 462), and
- Working Holiday visa (Subclass 417).
Visitor visa (Subclass 600) is the visa for tourists, business visitors or to visit family with a duration of 3, 6 or 12 months. It is further subdivided into 3 streams, namely:
- Visitor visa (Subclass 600) – Tourist Stream
- Visitor visa (Subclass 600) – Sponsored Family Stream
- Visitor visa (Subclass 600) – Business Visitor Stream.
For purposes of this article, I will focus on the Visitor visa (Subclass 600) – Tourist Stream because this is the type of visa you need to apply if the purpose of your stay is for tourism or holiday and to visit family and friends.
For a complete list of different types of Australian visas, go to this link.
If you are not sure which kind of visa to apply for, you can use the visa finder which will show you visa options that suit your needs.
What Is Visitor Visa (Subclass 600) – Tourist Stream?
This visa stream lets you enter Australia to visit as a tourist, go on a cruise, or to see family and friends. You can also study or train for up to 3 months in total.
You must be a genuine tourist and have enough funds to support your stay.
What Are the Requirements for the Australian Tourist Visa Application?
Here are the documents you need to provide when applying under the Subclass 600 (Visitor Visa) – Tourism Stream:
1. Form 1419 (Application for Visitor Visa – Tourist Stream)
If you apply online, this form is filled out online.
2. Documents to show your identity
- Copy of your passport including the photo page
- Copy of all visas, entry and exit stamps
3. Documents to show you are a visitor
a. If employed
- Employment certificate indicating the length of employment and annual salary, and
- Bank statement showing salary credits for the last 3 months
b. If self-employed
c. If visiting relatives or friends
- Letter invitation from your friend or relative in Australia
- Copy of the bio page of their passport
- Evidence of your relationship to your relative or friend, and
- Evidence that they have the necessary funds to support your intended stay
4. Documents to show your financial capacity
- Bank certificate showing the average daily balance for the last 3 months; and
- Bank statements showing account transactions for the last 3 months
You may also submit payslip or any evidence to demonstrate a consistent savings history and/or a regular income over time covering a three-month period. If another person will be supporting your stay in Australia, you will also need to submit the equivalent financial documents of the person supporting you.
Per instruction of the ImmiAccount, you are still required to submit evidence of your financial status even if a friend or relative is funding your trip as your financial status is one of the factors in assessing whether your personal circumstances would encourage you to return to the Philippines.
5. For minor applicants
- Birth certificate issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). If the birth certificate is late registered, a copy of the duly certified hospital records showing where the applicant was born is required
- Evidence of enrollment at school, college or university.
a. For children traveling with one parent
- Duly accomplished Form 1229 by the non-traveling parent, and
- Parent’s contact information and valid government-issued ID with signature
b. For children traveling with someone other than a parent
- Duly accomplished Form 1229 by both parents
- Both parent’s contact information and valid government-issued ID with signature, and
- Duly accomplished Form 1257 by the person who will be responsible for the child in Australia and valid government ID.
Please note that a travel permit from the DSWD does not constitute consent. Minor applicants are still required to provide the documents above.
6. Additional requirements
In addition to the above, the following documents may also be submitted or attached to your application:
a. Family register or composition form
In my case, I submitted a family photo.
b. Itinerary (evidence of planned tourism activities)
For this requirement, you may submit an itinerary detailing your holiday or recreation plans, visits to family and friends or if you are taking short courses (for up to 3 months only). A general list of places, dates, and activities will suffice. A sample itinerary may look like this.
c. Cover letter
For the record, I did not submit a cover letter when I applied for an Australian tourist visa. I thought it’s not necessary because it’s not in the checklist of requirements.
Moreover, I’m not sure if it will increase the chances of getting the visa as what the cover letter serves is only summarizing your travel plans and enumerating the documents to support your application. These information are already written/reflected in the application.
However, I also think there’s nothing wrong if an applicant desires to have a cover letter. More documents you submit, the better. Essentially and as in all visa applications, you need to prove you have the financial capacity to fund your trip and you have a strong reason to go back to the Philippines (and these are seen in the supporting documents you submit).
Should a cover letter be submitted, the applicant can attach the same in Additional documents (“other” documents”). For a sample cover letter intended for an Australian tourist visa application, you may check out this link or see the screenshot below.
How Much Does an Australian Tourist Visa Cost?
The visa fee is 145 AUD or around PHP4,909 in today’s exchange rate.
How To Get an Australian Tourist Visa in the Philippines: A Step-by-Step Guide
There are two ways you can apply for an Australian tourist visa: Online application via ImmiAccount or paper-based application via third-party provider VFS Global.
Between the two options, online application via ImmiAccount is better. It is convenient as you only need a computer and Internet to submit your application, eliminating the need to visit the Australian Visa Application Centre. It is also easy to track your application in your ImmiAccount.
Per the Australian Embassy, online applications are processed two times faster than paper-based applications. Over 80% of the applicants for the Visitor visa lodged their application online.
However, for the benefit of those who prefer to apply using the traditional method, we’ll be discussing both the online and paper-based application procedures in detail.
Option 1: Online application via ImmiAccount
ImmiAccount is the portal where you can lodge your application for a visa to Australia. You can use it if you, a family member or a friend would like to apply for a visa. Among other things, ImmiAccount is a convenient way to:
- Apply for a visa
- Access the My Health declaration service
- Continue a saved online application
- Attach the documents online
- Check the progress of your online application
- Change the details of your application.
How to apply for an Australian tourist visa online via ImmiAccount:
1. Visit the ImmiAccount login page and click “Create an ImmiAccount”. It will ask you to provide your name, contact details, username, and password. Click Submit once the information is entered. An email will be sent to you to confirm your account.
2. Once you have the ImmiAccount, you can now log-in. Click “New application”.
It will then provide you with several types of visas you can apply for. Click “Visitor”. It will give you drop down options. Choose “Visitor Visa 600”.
There are 19 pages on the portal:
a. Page 1 is agreeing to the terms and conditions. Click agree and press “Next”
b. Page 2 is asking your current location. Click “Yes” and it will further ask you to provide details of the following:
-Your current location
-Your legal status in the current location (whether you are citizen, permanent visitor, etc.).
-The purpose of your stay whether under Business Visitor Stream, Sponsored Family Stream, or Tourist Stream (Given your purpose is for holiday – click “tourist stream”)
- List all reasons for visiting Australia (Select tourism in the drop-down)
- Details of any significant dates in which you need to be in Australia (provide your date of intended arrival in Australia)
- Whether you are applying as a group (click “No” if applying individually and “Yes” if applying as a group). If you are applying as a group, read this guide.
-Just click “No” on the Special category of entry.
c. Page 3 asks for your information.
- Other names and spellings (an example is your name prior to marriage). If you click “yes”, a pop-up screen will appear and let you write your previous name and the reason for the change.
- Grant number (input the 13-digit visa grant number if you have been previously granted an Australian visa). If this is your first time applying for an Australian visa, choose “No”.
- Other passport documents for travel (applicable to dual citizens. If you click “yes”, a pop-up screen will appear and let you input your other passport details)
- Other identity documents (issued by the government for purposes of identification such as Alien Registration Number, birth certificate, driver’s license, marriage certificate, national identity document, social security card). If you click “yes”, a pop-up screen will appear and let you input your identity documents. In my case, I added two government-issued IDs.
- Health examinations (if you have undertaken a health examination for an Australian visa in the last 12 months). If you click “yes”, it will ask you to give details).
d. Page 4 is confirming whether the information you entered is correct
e. Page 5 is asking whether there are other persons traveling with you to Australia (Click “no” if you are traveling alone, otherwise, click “yes”). If you are applying as a group, check the separate guide below.
f. Page 6 asks your contact details
g. Page 7 asks if you are authorizing another person to receive communication on your behalf. If you click “yes”, information of authorized recipient is required to be inputted, otherwise, click “no”.
h. Page 8 asks if there are family members not traveling with you on the trip. If you click “yes”, details of the family member will be inputted, otherwise, just click “no”
i. Page 9 asks the details of your entry to Australia
- Proposed period of stay (whether single or multiple entry; your planned arrival or departure date)
- Friends, relatives or contact in Australia. If you click “yes”, details of the contact need to be provided
j. Page 10 to 11 ask your current employment status and employment details
- If you click employed or self-employed, details of your employment information need to be provided
- If you click unemployed, details of last employment need to be provided as well as your last employment position held
- If you click ‘Student’, details of your course need to be provided
k. Pages 12 to 14 ask your financial support (details of how you will fund your stay in Australia)
- If you click “supported by the current overseas employer”, type of support (whether, financial, accommodation, etc) needs to be provided.
- If you click “supported by other organization”, details of other organization need to be provided.
- If you click “supported by other person”, details of the person and your relationship with the person need to be inputted.
l. Page 15 asks about your health declarations. It is answerable by “yes” or “no”
- If you click “yes” to any of the health declaration questions, it will ask you to give details or further information
m. Page 16 asks about your character declaration. It is answerable by “yes” or “no”
- If you click “yes” to any of the character declaration questions, it will ask you to give relevant details or further information
n. Pages 17 to 18 ask your visa history whether you’ve been granted or refused a visa from other countries
o. Page 19 is a declaration answerable by “yes” or “no”. Just click yes to any of the questions.
3. Once you have inputted all your answers, the next screen to appear is the review page showing the summary of all your answers. It will ask you to review whether the information is correct. Just confirm and click “next”.
4. On the next page, you will need to attach all the required and recommended documents. You can attach a maximum of 60 documents which must be scanned and up to 5MB in size with the following extensions: bmp, dcm, doc, docx, dot, gif, jpg, pdf, png, ppt, pptx, rtf, txt, xls, xlsx.
If you are not sure what type of document is required, click the question mark icon on the right side of each requirement. Basically, these are the documents discussed above.
- For travel document, I submitted a copy of my passport
- For a photograph passport, I submitted a scanned copy of my passport photo.
- For evidence of planned tourism activities in Australia, I submitted an itinerary
- For evidence of the applicant’s previous travel, I submitted a copy of visas and passport stamps of my travels
- For evidence of current employment or self-employment, I submitted a Certificate of Employment
- For family register and composition form, I submitted a family photo
- For evidence of the financial status and funding for visit, I submitted Bank Certificate, Payslip, and Income Tax Return
5. After attaching all your supporting documents, click “next” for the payment of the visa fee.
As previously mentioned, the visa fee is 145 AUD or around PHP4,909 in today’s exchange rate. You can pay by credit card.
6. Once you’ve completed the application process, you can track your application in the ImmiAccount. You will be notified if your visa is granted.
There is no visa sticker or visa label attached to your passport. What will be given is a visa grant letter. This is the document you will bring in boarding your airline and what you will present with the Australian Immigration when you enter Australia. The letter looks like this:
Option 2: Paper-based application via third-party provider VFS Global
VFS Global is the authorized third party that can accept your application for a visa to Australia. They have offices in Makati and Cebu.
How to apply for an Australian tourist visa manually through VFS Global:
1. Download the Visitor Visa – Tourist Stream – Subclass 600 Online Application Checklist Philippines. This will serve as your guide to ensure you have included all necessary documents and information to support your application. You also need to print and sign this checklist which will be submitted together with your application.
2. Fill-out Form 1419 (Application for Visitor Visa – Tourist Stream). The form has 42 questions divided into 11 parts. The questions are the same as when you are filling out the form online via ImmiAccount.
3. Gather all the supporting documents as mentioned in the checklist and as discussed above.
4. Obtain a Manager’s Cheque payable to “Australian Embassy” equivalent to AUD145 in Philippine Peso. This serves as the visa fee.
5. Schedule an appointment via VFS Online Appointment System to submit your application.
How to schedule an appointment with VFS Global:
- Access the VFS Global Online Appointment System here.
- Click “New User” if it is your first time using the service.
- You will be directed to the next page where you will fill out the form. Click “Submit”
- You will be redirected to the log-in page.
- Once you are on the page, click, “Schedule an Appointment”. You can choose where to submit your application (whether in Cebu or Makati).
- Click “add applicant” and input your details
- A calendar will be shown and you may choose a date and time you prefer to submit your application. Once you’ve chosen a date and time, click “Submit”
- The appointment letter will be emailed to you. You need to bring the appointment letter so that you will be allowed access to the VFS Global office. The time and address which you need to submit your application will be stated in the letter. Be at the center 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
- In case you need to reschedule your appointment, you may also do so using the VFS Global Online Appointment System
Please note that it is important to have a prior appointment for the submission of your visa application. Walk-in is not allowed.
6. Submit the fully filled-out and signed application form together with your supporting documents on the day of your appointment and in the place stated in the appointment letter.
7. Track your application here.
8. Once approved, you can either pick up your Visa Letter at the VFS Global office or have it delivered to your address via courier.
Tips and Warnings
- If you do not have a credit card, ask someone with a credit card to pay for you. This is allowed.
- You don’t need to book a flight ticket yet when applying for a visa. Details of your flight itinerary are not needed in your application. Book a ticket once your visa is issued.
- You don’t need to book hotel accommodation during your application as details of your hotel are not needed. Book a hotel once your visa is issued.
- You don’t need to buy travel insurance for purposes of visa application (unlike when you are applying for a Schengen visa where insurance is required). However, buying travel insurance is always advisable when traveling abroad to avoid incurring huge expenses in case you need medical attention.
- Your passport is not submitted during your application. What is needed is only a photocopy of your passport, hence, you can travel and use your passport while waiting for your visa to be approved.
- The Australian Embassy in the Philippines and VFS Global warn applicants of rampant visa scams. Avoid these scams by applying for the visa yourself. The process is pretty simple and straightforward and you can surely do it on your own.
- Always be truthful in your answers and make sure your statement matches the documents you submitted. Declaring a false statement or submitting a false document will lead to denial of your visa application.
- As of this writing, the documentary requirements for an Australian visa application don’t need to be notarized.