Last updated 20 March 2020

How and where to apply

A visa application must be made on the correct application form or online portal to be valid. Schedule 1 of the Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) (Migration Regulations) lists the required form for each visa class. A sponsorship form may also be required. The forms can be found on the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) website. Increasingly, applications are lodged via online application portals.

Whenever a visa application is received by the DHA, a file number will be allocated to it, and this file number should be quoted whenever a person contacts the DHA.

Fees

Most visas require the payment of a visa application fee. This fee will not be refunded if the application is unsuccessful. However, if the application is invalid (see s 46 of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) for requirements for a valid visa), the DHA cannot consider it and the fee will be refunded in full.

The DHA usually change fees on the first of July of each year. Whilst the DHA website offers a visa pricing estimator, relevant sch 1 criteria (Migration Regulations) set out current fees for primary and secondary applicants.

Processing times

Approximate processing times are available on the DHA website and on various Australian Embassy and High Commission websites. A person can contact DHA to enquire about processing. They can also contact their local Commonwealth member of parliament to make enquiries, and the Global Feedback Unit of DHA or Commonwealth Ombudsman if they believe there has been unreasonable delay in the processing of an application.

Identity and integrity requirements

Identity and integrity requirements are increasingly a focus for DHA. An applicant must not provide bogus documents, or information that is false or misleading in a material document with their visa application. If a visa application is refused because an applicant or any of the members of the family unit provide bogus documents or information that is false or misleading in a material particular, a three-year ban will apply to most further visa applications.

In these circumstances, reasons must be provided as to why the visa should be granted. These reasons must either be:

  • compelling circumstances affecting Australia or
  • compelling or compassionate reasons affecting an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.

If a visa is refused because the applicant’s identity could not be established (under public interest criterion 4020), a ten-year ban on most further visa applications will apply.

A visa will be refused even if false or misleading information or bogus documents were supplied unintentionally or unknowingly. In many cases, a visa refusal on the basis of public interest criterion 4020 is reviewable by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.