The Visitor visa (subclass 600) is for tourists, business and family visitors. It is a temporary visa that does not allow one to work, study for more than 3 months, and is granted on the basis that the visitor is only to be in Australia temporarily.
Criteria to be met:
- Genuine temporary stay
- Adequate means of support
- Health and character requirements
We strongly advise that you read our earlier article on genuine temporary stay and adequate means of support and it offers a wealth of important information, especially in regards to complicated, ‘on the fence’ cases in regards to the genuine temporary stay requirement.
Despite it seeming like a simple means to enter Australia, applicants must understand that because of the grounds on which this visa is offered, less than straightforward intentions may result in the refusal of the visa. At times, condition 8503 is applied to visa grants that will not allow the applicant to make a further visa application whilst in Australia on the visitor visa.
Read: Conditions 8503 and 8553
If you meet the main criteria, what next to consider is which stream should you apply for. Applying under the wrong stream will mean that you will have to start afresh on the correct stream, wasting valuable money and time. You definitely want to get it right the first time!
- Tourist stream
- Sponsored family stream
- Business visitor stream
- Approved Destination Status (ADS) stream (only for nationals of the People’s Republic of China)
Further into this article we will discuss the most commonly applied for tourist, sponsored family and business visitor streams.
This stream is for those who are visiting Australia for recreational purposes. This includes tourist activities, visiting relatives and friends, studying for less than three months and other short term non work purposes.
This visa can be applied for in or outside of Australia and generally is granted for up to 12 months with multiple entries allowed. Parents of Australian citizens or permanent residents may be granted, under certain circumstances, longer stay periods. Please read our article on complex visitor cases
Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) or eVisitor eligible nationals who wish to stay in Australia for longer than 3 months may consider applying under this stream. All other applicants whose country of passport is not ETA or eVisitor eligible will need to apply via the visitor 600 visa.
Sponsored by eligible relative
If the applicant has declared that their purpose for visiting Australia is family the DIBP may ask request that the applicant be sponsored. In such an event, please see the criteria detailed under the sponsored family stream further down this article.
If an applicant is lodging the application from outside of Australia with the intention to study in Australia for a period of less than 3 months the DIBP will generally find no issue with it. For courses longer than 3 months, the applicant will need to apply for a student visa.
If intending to buy property in Australia
A visitor may buy property in Australia on a visitor visa, however should note that generally only Australian citizens, permanent residents or certain special category visa holders can purchase existing property, house, land, townhouse of units. Visitors will need to seek prior approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) before signing any contracts for a purchase.
If intending to engage in voluntary work
- Main purpose of the voluntary work is tourism
- Is not unpaid work experience and/or internships
- Must not receive remuneration for performing the duties of the position, other than reimbursement for reasonable expenses incurred by the person in performing the duties (e.g. board and lodging) or prize money
- Duties would not otherwise be carried out by an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident in return for wages
- Main benefit of the voluntary work is not to a commercial organisation
- Voluntary work is short term (generally 3 months)
- Voluntary work is of benefit to the community
If the applicant is in Australia
Applicants must hold a substantive visa that is not a domestic worker (temporary) diplomatic or consular 426 visa or a domestic worker (diplomatic or consular) 403 visa. If the applicant does not hold a substantive visa, they may still, under very narrow circumstances still be able to apply for the visitor visa, and must have extenuating circumstances to do so.
If applicant is currently in Australia on a student visa or held a student visa since last entering Australia, the DIBP will take care to assess if the applicant meets the genuine temporary stay requirement. More detail on this can be found in the article on the genuine temporary stay requirement
Sponsored family stream
Like the tourist stream, the sponsored family stream is for those who are visiting Australia for recreational purposes. This includes tourist activities, visiting relatives and friends, studying for less than three months and other short term non work purposes. This stream however carries the additional criteria:
- Formal sponsorship agreement
- Mandatory “no further application” condition 8502
- Mandatory condition requiring that the applicant leave Australia within the stay period of the visa on which they entered Australia
- Payment of a security bond, if it has been requested by the DIBP
This visa must be applied for outside of Australia and is generally granted for a period of 3 months with single entry only. Extended stays may be granted in exceptional circumstances. Parents of Australian citizens or permanent residents may be granted, under certain circumstances, longer stay periods. Please read our article on complex visitor cases
An eligible relative is one who is:
The following applies to both tourist stream applicants who have been requested to have a sponsor as well as sponsored family stream applicants
- A settled Australian permanent resident or citizen
- At least 18 years of age
- A relative of the applicant or
- A relative of another applicant who is a member of the family unit of the applicant or
- A relative of another applicant in relation to whom the applicant is a member of the family unit
The following applies only to sponsored family stream applicants
- A settled Australian permanent resident or citizen who is a Commonwealth/State/Territory member of parliament or local government mayor or
- a Commonwealth/State/Territory government agency or instrumentality
Special Category 444 visa holders, eligible New Zealand citizens, New Zealand citizens and New Zealand permanent residents cannot sponsor an applicant for a Sponsored Family stream visa
The sponsor is considered settled if they have been and are lawfully resident in Australia for ‘a reasonable period’. Generally a reasonable period is taken to be two years. Temporary residence as well as permanent residence may be counted towards meeting the two years. The sponsor is not required to be in Australia at the time the application is made. However if the sponsor has moved permanently overseas they would not be eligible to be a sponsor, even if their absence from Australia at the time of application has only been a short period.’
It can be a little confusing, so here are some examples:
The applicant’s sponsor is her sister who has migrated to Australia
Sponsor is a relative of another applicant who is a member of the family unit of the applicant:
The applicant has lodged an application together with his wife, and the sponsor is his wife’s brother.
The applicant and his son have lodged an application together and the sponsor is the applicant’s nephew. The applicant’s son can be sponsored even though sponsor and the applicant’s son, being cousins, are not defined to be relatives under the DIBP definition.
A relative is defined as:
- The spouse or de facto partner of the person
- A child, parent, brother or sister of the person
- A step-child, step-brother or step-sister of the person
- A grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew, or a step-grandparent, step-grandchild, step-aunt, step-uncle, step-niece or step-nephew
Where the sponsor is a partner, the relationship should not receive a full assessment unless there are concerns about the application being genuine. Please refer to our article on the genuine temporary stay requirement which discusses visiting partners in Australia.
Only for the sponsored family stream, where the applicant is being sponsored by a member of parliament, member of a legislative assembly or a mayor the sponsorship form must be completed personally by the sponsor. If the visa applicant is sponsored by a government agency or instrumentality, the sponsorship form must be completed by an authorised officer and show the official seal of the agency or instrumentality. The authorised officer must be authorised to make the sponsorship undertaking on behalf of the agency or instrumentality.
The sponsor needs to be aware that they have obligations and if they do not fulfil their obligations, they will be barred from sponsoring another applicant for 5 years.
Whilst not mandatory for every application, the DIBP may request for a security bond as if they are not convinced that the applicant meets the genuine temporary stay requirement as an alternative to visa refusal. Bonds, if requested, are usually set between AUD$5,000 and AUD15,000. Whether the bond is set at a higher or lower amount correlates to how much of a risk the applicant presents in being a genuine temporary entrant.
The sponsor is obligated to arrange for a security bond to be lodged. The sponsor does not have to be the one who lodges it. If the request has been made and the bond is not lodged, the visa will be refused.
The bond can be released under two circumstances; the applicant requests to cancel the visa before entering Australia and the applicant leaves Australia before the expiry of their visa, and having complied with all visa conditions.
Business visitor stream
The business visitor stream allows business people to take short business trips to Australia to engage in ‘business visitor activity’. Business visitor activity includes:
- Making general business or employment enquiries
- Investigating, negotiating, entering into or reviewing a business contract
- Activities relating to official government to government visits and
- Participation in a conference, trade fair or seminar unless there is payment for participation
- Work for or supply services to an organisation or person in Australia
- Supply services or direct sell goods to the public (retail)
- Enter the Australian labour market or the retail trade
These parameters are in line with the “no work” condition 8101. As such this visa cannot be used by applicants awaiting the outcome of a 457 visa application as such applicants are unlikely to comply with condition 8101.
A business visitor stream visa holder may visit Australia for an interview, but work placements and try outs are not permitted.
In addition to the above boundaries, the proposed activities cannot have adverse consequences for employment or training opportunities, or conditions of employment, for Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents. This to prevent activities that may fall within the definition of business visitor activity but may still have unfavourable outcomes for Australian citizens and permanent residents.
This visa must be applied for outside of Australia and is generally granted for a maximum of 3 months with multiple entry.
Study and training
Those who wish to enter into study in Australia for less than three months that is related to their occupation or business may be eligible for either the tourist or business visitor stream. The study or training should not be that which is covered by the Training and Research visa (subclass 402). Academics wishing to visit Australia to conduct research in relation to a project or qualification being undertaken overseas are also eligible to apply under the tourist or business visitor stream.
In the News..
Last year AILS did reviews of English tests, including the PTE test, and our tester similarly struggled with scores on the speaking component! On the PTE test, your voice is not just recorded, but assessed entirely by a computer. Our tester had the maximum score of 90 for all components other than speaking, for which she scored 66. Is the test flawed? Read our first hand encounter with the PTE test and share it so that others will avoid the shock