Online visa expansion
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (the department) is making it quicker and easier to apply for many visas.
From 9 December 2013, the department will introduce ImmiAccount.
ImmiAccount provides a single entry point to the department's online visa application systems. ImmiAccount is a self-service web portal that enables you to create, submit, pay for and manage all online applications in one online system.
It is the front door to all online visa services managed by the department and will connect you to other departmental online services, such as My Health Declarations, Visa Finder, Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO), and the Pricing Estimator.
This means you will not need to log out of ImmiAccount to find the right visa, view your visa entitlements or to estimate your visa application before submitting.
ImmiAccount accepts all online applications except for Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) applications and Australian citizenship applications.
ImmiAccount has many time-saving features so it’s easy and convenient for you to manage your online applications in one place.
ImmiAccount is easy to use and can be accessed through the department’s website at www.border.gov.au.
Online Lodgement for Partner visa applications
Online Lodgement for Partner visa applications will be available from 9 December 2013.
After creating an ImmiAccount, eligible clients on and offshore will be able to complete and lodge their partner or prospective marriage visas online (subclasses 300, 309/100 and 820/801). Also, clients will be able to submit their information for permanent partner visa processing online. For more information about partner visas, please visit the department’s website at www.border.gov.au.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection launched a new website on 6 November. The new site includes:
• Personalised content matched to your location
• A ‘Find a visa’ tool to search for the most appropriate visa
• For each Australian visa, a detailed page provides lodgement options, pricing, conditions, entitlements and eligibility.
Operation Sovereign Borders
A new Australian Government was elected on 7 September 2013, with Tony Abbott appointed Prime Minister. The new Government has introduced a tough new policy for managing unauthorised maritime arrivals by boat to Australia called Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB).
What is this tough new policy ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’?
Operation Sovereign Borders is the Australian Government’s new military-led border security initiative to stop the boats, to prevent people risking their lives at sea in the hands of criminals, and to preserve the integrity of Australia’s immigration program.
How is the new policy different from the previous policy?
The agreed partnership with the Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Nauruan Governments remains active with unauthorised maritime arrivals being sent to PNG or Nauru for processing. The new policy introduces a rapid transfer process where asylum seekers are transferred to either PNG or Nauru within 48 hours of arrival in Australia. The new policy also includes the expansion of processing centres in both locations as well as the turning back of asylum seeker boats.
What are the arrangements between Australia, PNG and Nauru?
The agreement signed between Australia and PNG, and Australia and Nauru provides for all unauthorised maritime arrivals to be sent to either PNG or Nauru for processing and if found to be a refugee, settlement there.
People found not to be refugees will be returned to their home country or a country where they have a right of residence.
The New Rules
Australia is working with both PNG and Nauru to expand the Regional Processing Centres, as well as exploring locations for the construction of additional facilities. This is to allow for sufficient offshore processing capacity and to meet the 48 hour rapid transfer process.
Does the 48 hour transfer to PNG and Nauru apply to women and children?
Everyone who arrives unlawfully in Australia is subject to transfer to PNG and Nauru. Children and family groups are not exempt from transfer. Anyone who arrives in Australia by boat, without a visa, will not be settled there.
What about unaccompanied minors?
There are no exemptions to transfer to an offshore processing country. Unaccompanied minors who arrive unlawfully in Australia are subject to transfer to PNG or Nauru. Australian authorities are working closely with their PNG and Nauru counterparts to develop a framework of arrangements to cater for the needs of unaccompanied minors once they are transferred to a regional processing centre.
Will the boats be told to turn around?
The Government in Australia has changed and so have the rules. If you come to Australia by boat without a visa you will be intercepted. You can be turned back or you will be quickly transferred to the country of PNG or Nauru for processing. You will never be settled in Australia.
The people smugglers told me that I would be eligible to settle in Australia?
Don’t be deceived by the lies of people smugglers. They are only after your money. You risk losing everything, including your life, if you come to Australia by boat without a visa.
What if relatives are already in Australia? Is it any different if the relatives already have a visa?
It will not make a difference if people (including children, families or unaccompanied minors) have family in Australia. Everyone who arrives will be transferred to PNG or Nauru within 48 hours of arrival.
What will happen if asylum seekers make it to the mainland? Will they still be liable to be transferred to PNG or Nauru under these arrangements?
No matter where an asylum seeker arrives in Australia by boat, they will be transferred to PNG or Nauru.
What will happen to those people found not to be refugees?
Those who are found not to be refugees will be returned to their home country or to a country where they have right of residence.
How many people can be transferred to PNG or Nauru under the new arrangements?
There is no maximum number that can be transferred. Facilities in both countries are continually being expanded. There is no limit on the numbers that may be transferred or settled in PNG or Nauru under the new arrangement.
How do I obtain permanent residency in Australia or another country?
There is a correct process to follow to register a claim with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) or International Organization for Migration (IOM).
You can now apply online to visit Australia
Federated States of Micronesia
From 1 July 2013 the Australian Embassy in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, will cease accepting all visa applications and enquiries.
The Australian Government is making it quicker and easier to apply for many Australian visas. A number of new countries have been included in an expansion of access to online Visitor visa applications. If you hold a Federated States of Micronesia passport, you may be able to apply to visit Australia through the department’s website. More information is available at www.border.gov.au.
To be eligible for a Visitor visa, you must have a genuine intention to visit Australia as a visitor, for recreation or to visit family and friends.
If you lodge your application while outside Australia, you must also be outside Australia at the time a decision is to be made on your application. If you lodge your application while in Australia, you must also be in Australia at the time a decision is made on your application.
Further information about the required documents can be found on the department’s website at www.border.gov.au
If you are granted a Visitor visa, it will allow either single entry or multiple entries to Australia for a stay period of up to three, six or 12 months. The period of stay and number of entries granted will depend on the purpose of the visit and your personal circumstances.
Who can apply online?
If you are a Federated States of Micronesia citizen and hold a valid passport issued by the Federated States of Micronesia Government, you may be eligible to lodge an electronic Visitor visa application online from 1 July 2013.
For a list of nationalities that can submit an online Visitor visa application:
If you are in Australia and want to apply online to extend your stay as a visitor, you must:
• hold a valid visa
• have lodged a tourist visa granted for a stay of three months or less
• not have a 'No further stay' condition attached to your current visa
• have access to a credit card.
Can I still use an agent to lodge my application?
Agents will still be able to lodge applications on behalf of their clients using a paper form through their nearest visa processing office.
What can I do while I’m in Australia if I am granted a Visitor visa?
The purpose of a Visitor visa is for holidays, recreation or visiting family and friends. Work is not permitted except for business visitor activities such as attending a conference, negotiations or an exploratory business visit.
You are not able to work in Australia on a Visitor visa. If you are coming to Australia to work, you must apply for a visa which allows you to work in Australia.
If you are granted this visa, you can study for up to three months. If you want to study for longer than three months you must apply for a student visa.
Your Visitor visa may be granted with a ‘No further stay’ condition. If this is the case, you will not be eligible to apply for any further visas to remain in Australia. This condition may be waived in exceptional circumstances.
When should I expect to receive an answer regarding my application?
The visa office in Suva, Fiji, aims to finalise the majority of Visitor visa applications within five working days. For further information on the department’s service standards, see www.border.gov.au.
How will the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (the department) contact me regarding my application?
The department’s preferred method of communicating with clients is via email. Please ensure that you include details of a valid email address in your application.
If further information is required to process your application, you will generally be given 28 days to provide this information. However, it is in your best interests to provide any requested information as quickly as possible to allow the department to make a decision more quickly. If you require more than 28 days to provide requested information, please email the processing office that requested the additional information.
To provide requested information, you can attach the documents electronically to your saved application. Information about how to do this is available at www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/676- . Alternatively, you can send the requested information by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If the requested documents are not in English, you must provide an English translation. The department is only able to respond to emails written in English.
What if my travel is urgent?
For urgent matters or imminent travel please ensure you place the word URGENT in the subject heading line of your email.
Please note we consider urgent circumstances to include the need for a client to immediately travel for compassionate and/or compelling circumstances such as:
• death of a family member
• family-related emergencies
• other personal emergency situations
• governmental VIPs requiring immediate travel.
While we are committed to being responsive to cases requiring emergency travel, emailing or phoning the department for cases that do not fall into these categories will delay overall processing and reduce our capacity to prioritise genuinely urgent cases.
What do I do if I am having trouble lodging my application online?
If you experience problems lodging a Visitor visa online please refer firstly to the current system outages information at www.border.gov.au
If your problem is not identified on the systems outages page or you continue to have problems lodging your application, send an email to our help desk email@example.com and we will forward it to the appropriate area of the department for investigation and resolution.
Why can applicants who hold a passport from the Federated States of Micronesia apply but not other countries?
The department is currently expanding the availability of online lodgement for applicants from the Federated States of Micronesia as part of a phased rollout. The department is moving towards the global availability of online lodgement for applicants of all nationalities. The expansion of online lodgement access to other nationalities will be announced as it becomes available.
Where will my application be processed?
Your application will be processed at a visa processing centre, based on your location at the time of lodgement.
Can I still lodge an application using a paper form?
You will still be able to lodge an application using a paper form, although from 1 July 2013 the Australian Embassy in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, will cease accepting all paper visa applications and enquiries. From that date paper applications and enquiries can be directed to the Australian Visa Application Centre in Tarawa, Kiribati see: www.ttsaustralia.com.
How do I track the progress of my online application?
You can track the progress of your online application at www.border.gov.au/Trav/check-your-visa-and-work-entitlements using your date of birth, passport number and unique transaction reference number (TRN) received when lodging a valid application. Your TRN starts with EGN and is followed by a series of seven numbers and/or letters, for example EGNX1Y2Z3X.
If your application is approved, you will also be able to view your visa grant notification.
If my application is granted, do I need a label in my passport?
Visitor visa holders are not required to have a visa label placed in their passport to travel to Australia. Other than the visa holder’s passport, no further documentation is required to travel to Australia, although it is recommended that applicants keep a copy of their visa grant notification for their personal records. As a visa is electronically linked to a specific passport, you should contact your nearest processing office if your passport details change before you travel to Australia.
How can I check my visa conditions?
You can check your visa conditions using the department’s Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system once your visa is granted. To check your visa conditions, visit www.border.gov.au/Trav/check-your-visa-and-work-entitlements.
To access VEVO, you need either, your:
• transaction reference number (TRN)
• visa grant number
• visa evidence number, or
You will also need the following details from your passport details page:
• date of birth
• passport number
• country of your passport.
Why should I lodge an application online instead of on a paper form?
The department’s online lodgement system is easy to access and is available at all times. There is no need to travel to a departmental office or make an appointment. If you lodge an application online, you can check the progress of your application by visiting the department’s website. You can also access free and up-to-date information on all Australian visas at www.border.gov.au.
Important News: Important changes to Visitor visa framework
From 23 March 2013 the government introduced significant changes to the Visitor visa framework. The following visas no longer exist:
• Tourist visa (Subclass 676)
• Sponsored family visitor visa (subclass 679)
• Business (Short Stay) visa (Subclass 456)
• Sponsored business visitor (short stay) visa (subclass 459)
• Medical Treatment (short stay) visa (subclass 685)
• Medical Treatment (long stay) visa (subclass 685)
• Electronic Travel Authority (visitor) (subclass 976)
• Electronic Travel Authority (business – short validity) (subclass 977)
• Electronic Travel Authority (business – long validity) (subclass 956)
The above listed visas no longer exist and applications made will be considered invalid.
Applicants who were previously eligible for the visas listed above may be eligible for one of the following five visa subclasses below:
• Temporary work (short stay activity) visa (subclass 400)
• Visitor visa (subclass 600)
• Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601)
• Medical Treatment visa (subclass 602)
• eVisitor (subclass 651)
More information, please see: www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/Visa-listing#Visitor Visas