A visa is a form of permission for a non-citizen to travel to, enter, transit or remain in a particular country granted by either Embassy or Consulate General. Some countries ask visitors to present return tickets and evidence of funds sufficient to cover the intended stay. Others have compulsory currency exchange regulations on entry. Some refuse entry to visitors who do not comply with entry requirements regarding general appearance and clothing, or visitors who are HIV positive.
If you are planning a holiday visit, a short business trip or a study course in Australia, you will need to apply for either appropriate type of visa or an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority). An ETA will let you spend up to three months in Australia.
An ETA is equivalent to a visa, but there is no stamp or label in your passport and there is no need for you to visit an Australian diplomatic office to submit an application. An application form for ETAs can be submitted through travel agents or airlines.
Now, you can also submit your application directly through a special web site by clicking on the "Apply for ETA" button and, in most cases, your application will be approved in less than 30 seconds. You can also check your ETA status by clicking on the Check your ETA button. The ETA is issued electronically by a computer system operated for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) of Australia.
A Tourist visa can be applied for from outside Australia (offshore) or in Australia. Generally a Tourist visa will be granted for a stay of 3 months or 6 months, but in certain circumstances a stay of 12 months may be granted.
If you are an offshore applicant and if you meet Australian entry requirements, a Tourist visa allows: a stay of up to 12 months, depending on the reason for your visit and your ability to support yourself during your stay in Australia.
For onshore applicants, a Tourist visa allows: a total stay of up to 6 months from the date the applicant last entered Australia on their ETA (Visitor) or Tourist visa if lodging an electronic application over the Internet; or a total stay of up to 12 months if lodging a paper application at an office of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA).
To be granted a Student visa you must show that you can pay for your living and study costs while you are in Australia. If you have a spouse or dependent children you must also show that you can support them, even if they will not be accompanying you to Australia. The evidence you must provide depends on your education sector and your Assessment Level. The financial and entry requirements are explained in the Temporary Entry Overseas Students Booklets. For student visa applications, the following may also be required: proper medical clearance, proof of acceptance from the Australian institute, medical exam documentation.
One of the basic Australian entry requirements is that no tourist visas, or initial student visas, whether granted overseas or in Australia, allow employment. Your application will be assessed according to your Assessment Level. Your Assessment Level is determined by the country of your nationality and the education sector for which you are seeking a student visa. Generally, family unit members who intend to accompany you to Australia may be included in your application for a visa and be processed for visa entry at the same time. They must answer Australian entry requirements among which are undergoing a medical examination and holding health cover insurance. If your family unit members decide to come to Australia after you have arrived, they will have to apply separately. They may also require you to nominate them for entry.