Among the few countries that I have applied a tourist visa for, Australia is easily the most nerve-wracking, and at the same time the most efficient. Nerve-wracking because it takes up to 18 to 28 days for the Australian High Commission to make a decision, and costs about MYR 425 (PHP 5,362) with no guarantees of approval. Efficient because the application is 90% online, therefore there’s no need to queue up at the embassy with stacks of papers to submit. For the other 10%, I’ll share the details as we go along.
Pre-Visa Application Research
Explore your visa options for visiting by clicking this link: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-finder/visit
Select the purpose of your visit, and the country of your passport
I’ve selected the option Holiday for my purpose, and entered Philippines as the country of passport.
- My visa option is Visitor visa (subclass 600)
- Visa cost – $140 AUD (MYR 401 / PHP 5,062P)
- Processing Time – 18 to 28 days
Now that I know which visa stream to apply for, time to get the real process started.
Step 1 – Create An Account via https://online.immi.gov.au
This step is pretty straight-forward. I entered all the necessary information such as:
- Current location (from which country am I lodging my application from)
- Legal status
- Why am I at my current location and the date of my current visa (applicable for those who are applying for the visa outside of their country)
- The rest are relevant information about me including information that prove my identity
- My travel companion (adding my spouse makes the application stronger in my opinion)
- Non-accompanying members of the family is also needed (like seriously – I’ve enumerated my immediate family in the Philippines and Malaysian in-laws for this)
- Contact in Australia – This will only appear if you answer ‘Yes’ to the question: “Will the applicant visit any relatives, friends or contacts while in Australia?”
- Employment Details
- Funding details – I’ve broken down my funding details to include funding from my spouse, my own salary and the contribution of my Aussie contacts in terms of accommodation
Tips: * Remember your username (email) and password; *Bookmark the Immi page so you can easily login and attach important documents as needed
Step 2 – Attach As Many Supporting Documents As You Can
In this section you can attach up to 60 documents to support your visa application. I’ve attached around 29 documents before I clicked on ‘Submit Application’. The good thing is, the applicant is not bound to complete the application from the time the Immi account was created. It took me a few days to attach all the necessary documents before submitting.
Some of the documents I’ve attached are the following:
- Travel Document – Scanned copy of passport
- Passport-size photo
- Invitation from family / friends – signed invitation letter
- Evidence of the financial status and funding for visit – Employment letter, 3-month payslip, personal bank statements, 2018 income tax return, spouse’s 3-month payslip
- Evidence of planned tourism activities in Australia – 2-week itinerary
- Evidence of previous travel – Photos of entry/exit stamped pages of the current passport and travel visas
- Other documents – Scanned copies of Marriage certificate and Spouse Visa
Step 3 – Submit Application And Pay Visa Processing Fee
As the visa application is done online, so is the payment. While credit card is the most convenient way, you may also pay through bank transfer or other methods. Once I made the payment, I received an instant notification + invoice in my registered email address.
Step 4 – Set Up Appointment For Biometrics
*Takes about 5 minutes online
Biometrics is only required if an applicant applies:
- for a visa that is part of the biometrics program
- from a country that is part of our biometrics program
In this case, Malaysia is part of the biometrics program. You can find the list of countries that are part of the biometrics program by visiting: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/meeting-our-requirements/biometrics
The document below is the biometrics letter from the embassy which instructed me to visit an Australian Visa Application Center (not an embassy but an agency that partners with the Australian High Commission)
*If you are applying from Malaysia, click this website to set up for biometrics appointment: https://www.vfsglobal.com/australia/malaysia/biometric_data_collection.html
Once I’ve completed appointment setting, I received a confirmation email with an attached appointment letter.
*Attached appointment letter
I’ve completed the appointment process right after I’ve submitted my application. Steps 3 and 4 can be done in 1 go.
Step 5 – Provide Biometrics At An Australian Visa Application Center (AVAC)
*takes about an hour including the queue/wait
This is 10% of the process which is done in person. On the day of my appointment I visited the AVAC in Kuala Lumpur. Address: Suite 19.06, 19th Floor Wisma MCA 163 Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.
I have the following documents handy:
- Letter for Biometric From Embassy
- Appointment Letter (from AVAC)
- Application Fee: MYR 117 payable by cash only
Step 6 – Wait for 18 to 28 Days
This part was the most nerve-wracking for me. I kept on checking my Immi account daily, just in case additional documents were required then I can act on it straight away.
Tip: Just chill and stop checking your Immi account. :))
On the 21st day I received an email from the Australian High Commission asking for additional information. (This was a bit heartbreaking I must admit.)
- Copy of Marriage Certificate
- Evidence of spouse’s current occupation
- Evidence of adequate funds or access to adequate funds (spouse + contacts in AU)
This is quite odd considering that I have attached these documents when I first submitted my application.
Nonetheless, as soon as I received this email my husband immediately sent me his latest payslips + bank statements and most importantly, his AU visa approval (which is super easy and cheap for Malaysians btw). I logged in to my Immi account and attached these documents straight away. A few minutes after I’ve sent the documents, I got another email and this time, the email mended my broken heart.
I got an approval in 3 weeks which in the case of my passport, is not bad at all. 🙂
Moral of the story: It is always better to over-attach supporting documents specially the financial ones.
Thanks for reading this far! If you find this blog useful, please do share with family and friends who may need some insights on how to start their Australian tourist visa application.
Till the next visa application!