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Holiday Guides for Oceania - Australia

Understanding the Australia Visa System

Should you wish to visit, work in or immigrate to Australia you will need to apply for the relevant type of Australia visa.

Should you wish to visit, work in or immigrate to Australia you will need to apply for the relevant type of Australia visa. The Australian visa system can appear complicated, so it is important to research the process and eligibility requirements fully. The aim of this article is to outline these requirements in simple terms so that those considering travelling to Australia are well prepared for the process.

Australia is a popular choice for British emigration. A recent survey undertaken by Currency UK, a foreign exchange broker, found that three out of 10 Brits would like to immigrate Down Under. Comparing this year's poll with one conducted in 2005, we see that the number of Brits who would consider moving has increased from 25 per cent to a nearly a third.

To many, Australia seems to offer a better quality of living and a better work/life balance than the UK. Its good climate, strong economy and the lack of a language barrier make Australia a popular choice among Brits considering emigration.

Should you be considering making the move to Australia, it is important to ensure that you have a clear and realistic understanding of the Australian visa process and eligibility requirements.

A visa is required for even a short trip to Australia. If you wish to visit the country for the purposes of sightseeing, visiting friends or relatives or other non-working activities, and plan to stay for less than three months, you will need to apply for a short-stay ETA tourist visa.

To apply you must hold a passport from an eligible country and fulfil a list of conditions, including that you must not work while in Australia.
Travellers who wish to stay in Australia for between three months and a year need to apply for a long-stay Tourist visa. The length of the visa that you may be granted depends on your personal circumstances and the purpose of your visit. As with the short-stay visas you must hold a valid passport from an eligible country and agree not to work while in Australia.

If you need to travel to Australia for business purposes then you will need either a short-stay business visa or a long-validity business visa, depending on whether you need to make just one trip of up to three months in length or several. With a long-validity business visa you can make business trips of up to three months in length, to Australia, for as long as your passport is valid.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 30 and wish to work in Australia, then you can apply for an Australia working holiday visa, which is also known as the WHM visa. This visa covers trips of fewer than 24 months in length and gives travellers the right to work in order to supplement their travels. Work undertaken must be incidental to the main purpose of holidaying and you must not be employed for more than six months with any one employer.

The basic requirements of a working holiday visa are as follows:

  • You must be between 18 and 30 years-old.
  • You must have a valid passport with at least one year until renewal.
  • You must have sufficient funds to support yourself when you arrive in Australia.
  • You must not have any substantial criminal convictions.
  • You must not have any serious medical issues.
If you want to make your move to Australia a permanent one, and have the right to live and work there, then you can apply for a visa through the general skilled migration programme. The GSM programme is the only path for skilled workers wanting to immigrate to Australia and there is a rigorous application process.

All candidates must first meet the basic requirements that include:
  • You must be under 45 when you apply.
  • You must have at least vocational level ability in the English language.
  • You must have post-secondary qualifications and your skills must be assessed by the relevant authority as being suitable for your nominated occupation.
  • You must nominate an occupation from the skilled occupations list that fits your skills and qualifications.
  • You should have completed the relevant work experience period.
  • The above work experience requirement can be waived if you complete an Australian qualification less than six months before lodging your via application and you undertake a skills assessment designed to access your suitability to your nominated occupation.
  • You should be of reasonably good health.
  • Undertaking a character assessment.
In addition to the basic requirements applicants for the GSM programme also need to pass a points test. There are several different types of visa under the GSM programme that you can apply for.

Other categories of permanent migration visa are: the business visa for successful business people, investors and senior executives; the family visa for those with family who can sponsor their move to Australia; and the partner visa which is designed for those in a relationship with an Australian or eligible New Zealand citizen. Each of these visa types holds its own set of strict requirements.

Should you feel that you may be eligible for an Australia visa then it is advisable to research all aspects of the process; in the case of an immigration visa there are lots of different considerations to make, perhaps even before you begin the assessment process. It is also definitely advisable to seek specialist advice when beginning this type of visa application.