There are only two visas that I have applied for since I started traveling : Korea and Australia. I was lucky that both were for official business (aka government related work) that I didn’t have to line up to get those precious visa labels.
Then, I decided to try on the tourist stream/visit visa/tourist visa for Australia last year. There were the usual form completion and submission of documents and a bit of waiting. The
(first) second time I applied for an Australian visa was too toxic for me. The reason? I chose to cram when in fact, I have months to prepare since I already bought the tickets. Yes, I was so sure to go down under that I bought myself some AirAsia flights!
These are the steps I did on my road for an Australian tourist visa:
Download and complete Form 1419. It can be found at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. You can either print it and complete the form hand written or download, answer and print the complete form (somehow, you can not save the file with the answers unless you’re using Mac where you can download, fill out, save and print later). Yes, I tried it both for Windows and Mac-run computers.
Prepare the documentary requirements that will identify you and provide enough information that you can afford the the trip and you will return to your country of origin before the visa expires. On my end, I prepared the following:
A photocopy of your passport’s biopage and the stamped pages
Birth certificate from NSO
Latest income tax return
Credit card billing statement
Reason to Return:
Certificate of employment and compensation
Approved leave form
Title of property
A proposed itinerary indicating the places you intend to visit on given dates
2 passport sized photos
Manager’s check (latest fees can be found at http://www.immi.gov.au/Visas/Pages/Pricing-Estimator.aspx)
Write a good letter of intent stating the reason why you want to visit Australia and when do you plan to depart and return from/to country of origin. Also state why you need to back in your country at a specific date. If you have a sponsor, mention what the person will be providing on your visit.
Speaking of sponsorship, ask the sponsor to write a letter of invite addressed to the Consul stating he/she is inviting you for —– (insert reasons here). State your relationship with the sponsor. Much better if it is signed by their Justice of Peace (similar to a notary public). Attach in the invite letters proofs that the sponsor has the capacity to provide the necessary support (e.g. bank statement, house rental statement, certificate of employment)
You can either submit the completed form and attachments in person (which I usually do at the VIA Center) or arrange for a courier to pick it up.
The center informed me that the average processing is 1month. I got my previous visa in 2 days while the latest was processed within one week. It varies, I suppose on the case officer who handles your application and the nature of the visa.
It was the longest week ever since I had a fast processing experience back in October 2013. I had to call the contact center after 7 days only to learn it was ready for pick up.
In my experience, just be honest on your intent to visit (and emphasize that you will not be overstaying) and submit the complete documents. After that, just wait for the decision that will be handed on a piece of paper (unless you want a sticker label similar to the photo above).
Happy visa lodging!