It is true that the world is getting smaller and smaller. Other countries become more accessible, thanks to efficient transportation systems and the advent of low cost carriers. One minute you’re still at home here in the Philippines, in a few hours you’ll find yourself walking along the streets of another country. While it is easy to book a ticket to your dream destination, getting a visa where required is another thing. Australia, for instance, requires Filipinos to obtain a valid visa prior to entry. The land down under is a top pick for a holiday outside Asia because of the great availability of low-cost airfare and the wide variety of surprisingly budget-friendly itineraries.
In this post, I will provide details on how FILIPINO CITIZENS CURRENTLY RESIDING IN THE PHILIPPINES can apply ONLINE for an Australian visa for TOURISM PURPOSES, which is called a VISIT VISA (Subclass 600), in five easy steps. I have applied for such visa twice already and I have noticed quite a number of changes in the processes between the first and the second application. That being said, the details provided hereafter are valid as of this writing, October 2016.
Since the application for a visit visa that I will be discussing here is entirely online, it will not require you to appear at the embassy nor send hard copies of personal documents for review—not even your passport. By default, the Australian immigration issues an electronic visa notice (in PDF format) thru email when an application has been approved. This needs to be printed and presented during your trip. On the other hand, a visa sticker/label may be had for a fee and you will be required to send your passport for the label to be attached. For the online application, you’ll be needing a computer, a scanner, a stable internet connection, a credit card, and your personal documents, of course.
It should be noted that visa application may also be made through VFS Global by going to Manila on an appointment basis or through courier service. This entails processing and courier fees. I prefer the online method for two reasons: I don’t have to pay for additional fees and I can accomplish my application during my free time and in the comfort of my own home or office.
The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s (DIBP) website is a useful resource for your general queries on various types of visa applications. It is also the website to visit when you are ready to begin your online visit visa application.
Shall we begin?
1. CREATE AN IMMIACCOUNT
An ImmiAccount serves as your gateway to applying for various types of Australian visas online. Click here to be directed to the website. Go to the bottom of the page and click CREATE IMMIACCOUNT. At the next page, click INDIVIDUAL under the type of online services (or ORGANISATION if you are applying for large group or if you are an agent). Next, provide the necessary information: your complete name, phone number and valid email address. After you’ve successfully created an account, a confirmation link will be sent to your email address. Just click this link to be able to access all the features/services of the website.
One good thing about online application is that you can always save your application at any step if you need to do something else and then come back when you are ready to continue with it. For example, if you are still awaiting some documents, you may start filling out information online then upload your scanned documents some other day. Do take note that an unfinished application will automatically be deleted within 30 days if not submitted.
2. PREPARE REQUIRED DOCUMENTS
In summary, the documents you need to prepare are those that provide information about your identity, your financial capacity, and your intention to come back to the Philippines after your trip. Listed below are the required documents, organized per category as specified in the website. Provide only those that are applicable to you. Scan them and save in either PDF or JPG format for uploading later (maximum 5MB per file).
A. Travel document
- Passport bio page (scanned copy certified by a notary public then scanned again)
B. Evidence of travel history
- Current and old Passport page/s with entry/exit stamps and visa labels (again, certified by a notary public)
C. Evidence of birth or age
- NSO-issued Birth Certificate
D. Evidence of Personal assets
- Proof of ownership or investment (car, house and lot, stocks, insurance, etc.)
E. Evidence of Financial capacity
- Latest Bank Certificate
- Bank statements within the last 3-4 months
- Credit card statements within the last 3 months
- Certificate of Employment/Certificate of Employment with Compensation
- Pay slip within the last 3-4 months
- Income tax return (BIR Form 2316)
- Approved leave of absence (no appropriate category, but since this is related to your job, you may upload the document under this category)
If you own a business,
- Business Permit/Certificate of Registration
- Income tax return
If you will be sponsored by a resident/citizen of Australia,
- Sponsorship letter/invitation
- Evidence of financial capacity of sponsor (proof of ownership, bank certificates, pay slip)
- Affidavit of support from parents/guardian
- Proof of financial capacity of parents/guardian (bank certificates, bank statements, etc.)
F. Optional (will not guarantee approval but may strengthen your application)
- Plane tickets (In case you had booked way in advance because of a seat sale. Hehe)
- Hotel reservation (Booking.com offers free cancellation!)
- Itinerary of travel
- Recent passport size photograph (with collar; white background)
As for the optional documents, I uploaded mine under the category where I found appropriate. If you are unable to provide some of the documents above, do not fret. This is the part where the application becomes mind-boggling, actually (not to mention the most time-consuming step). No one can really predict which combination of documents will guarantee approval. But as a general rule, provide all that you can that are applicable to you. As they say, the rest is up to God. Hehe.
In my case, I think I submitted around 13 of the documents I mentioned above and got a single-entry visa good for 3 months. The second time I applied, I submitted just 9 documents and got a one-year multiple entry visa even though I only applied for single entry.
3. FILL OUT ONLINE APPLICATION FORM
You are now about halfway through the application process. Log in to your ImmiAccount and click NEW APPLICATION somewhere at the top of the webpage. You will be directed to the list of visa types. Click VISIT, then 600, then CONTINUE. You will then be directed to the first of 18 pages of the online application form. Worry not, those 18 pages are not at all tedious to fill out, you can think of this step as answering your friend’s slam book (all my life I spelled it as slum! Haha). Some pages would require your personal information, while some pages would simply require you to answer yes or no questions. Just one advice here: be truthful and accurate in answering the questions to avoid encountering any problems in your application.
What’s amazing about ImmiAccount is that you can also start an application for your travel companions (if there’s any) using your own account! There’s no more need for them to create another account, unless they have a separate trip in the future which would require them to apply by themselves. If you are traveling in a group, you can create a group on page 2 of the application. This is a way of letting the authorities know that you intend to go to Australia as a group.
4. ATTACH SUPPORTING EVIDENCES
Congrats! By this time you have already accomplished filling out the online form. The next page would be for uploading the documents you have scanned. Upload each document under the appropriate category. Again, upload as many documents as possible that would establish your credibility as a tourist.
5. SUBMIT AND PAY
After attaching the evidences, you will be asked whether you would like to submit the application right away or just save the application for the meantime and come back later (e.g. when a document is yet to be available for uploading). Once you decide to submit your application, you will be asked to pay for the application fee of AUD 135 via credit card and a card transaction fee of 1-3% of the application fee depending on which among Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, and Diners Club card you are going to use. For the two previous applications that I have filed, I was charged around PHP 4,700 each (dependent on current exchange rate and card conversion fee).
Voila! The sixth step–WAIT for about 30 days (standard processing time for Philippine applications) for the decision regarding your application. The first time I applied, I got my electronic visa notice 14 days after I submitted my application. The processing time for other visa applications I have previously submitted online for friends and family ranged from 27 to 34 days. According to the DIBP website, the approval rate of Filipinos applying for a visit visa is around 85% in recent years. Assuming your evidences are well in place, you should most likely be part of that percentage.
There you have it. I hope this guide helps you in your Australian visit visa application. Let me know about your application experiences and concerns in the comments section below!