Last updated 25 August 2016

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 Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) website. Increasingly, applications are lodged via online application portals.

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


Most visas require the payment of a visa application charge. This charge 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 DIBP cannot consider it and the fee will be refunded in full. Many visa applications later require a second payment as processing progresses.

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

Processing times

Approximate processing times are available on the DIBP website and on various Australian Embassy websites. A person may wish to contact their local Commonwealth member of parliament to make enquiries, or the Commonwealth Ombudsman if they believe there has been unreasonable delay in the processing of an application.

Identity and integrity requirements

An applicant must not provide bogus documents, or information that is false or misleading in a material document with their visa application (public interest criterion 4020, sch 4 Migration Regulations). 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 bar will apply to further visa applications.

If a visa has been refused on the basis of providing a bogus document or information that is false or misleading in the last three years and a new application is made for a visa (where that visa includes public interest criterion 4020 as part of the criteria), reasons must be provided as to why the visa should be granted. These reasons must be 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 a further visa application will apply where that visa includes public interest criterion 4020 as part of the criteria.

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