The subclass 600 visitor visa allows the visa holder to make short trip(s) to Australia for personal or business reasons. There are several streams under this visitor visa. We will discuss the two streams that are the most commonly applied-for, the tourist stream and sponsored family stream in this article.
How long can I stay for?
It depends. More frequently, subject to grant of the visa, visa holders are allowed to make multiple entries in and out of Australia and stay for a maximum of 3 months on each stay in a 12-month period. This means that whilst you may be granted a visitor visa for 12 months, you cannot stay in Australia for more than 3 months each time you enter and leave the country.
We have encountered cases where visitor visa holders have been allowed to travel back and fro Australia and stay for a maximum of 3 months on each stay in a 4-year period. The visa holder sometimes could also be allowed to stay for a maximum consecutive period of 12 months.
Where the Department of Home Affairs might be hesitant about whether you will be compliant on your visitor visa (i.e. return to your home country before your visa expires), you could be given rights to a single entry into Australia and be allowed to stay for less than 3 months.
Types of visitor visa streams under subclass 600 visitor visa
Like a few other temporary and permanent Australian skilled and business visas, the subclass 600 is made up of multiple streams. You will need to pick one to apply for the subclass visitor visa under.
The 5 streams of visitor visas have their own unique requirements for grant.
- Tourist stream
- Sponsored family stream
- Business visitor stream
- Frequent traveller stream
- Approved Destination Status stream
Eligibility: are you a Genuine Temporary Entrant?
What's common to all 5 streams is the requirement to show that the visa applicant is a "genuine temporary entrant". These are some factors that the Department may take into consideration when you make a visitor visa application:
- Whether you complied with your visa conditions when you last visited Australia (if you have visited)
- Your assets, family (spouse, partner or dependent children) or employment in home country - this is to assess if you are able to support yourself and whether you have a strong personal incentive to return to your home country
- Your previous international travel history
- Your connections to Australia - if most of your close personal connections are based in Australia, you may be assessed as someone who is more likely to be more than a visitor
- Economic circumstances or disruption in your home country
- Whether applicants from your home country largely do not comply with visa conditions or overstay
- Your age - unaccompanied minors will need to include a completed and signed undertaking from their parents, a relative over 21 years old or an organised tour. Applicants over the age of 70 will be required to show evidence of private health insurance and may be required to undertake health exams.
You may be able to apply for this visa if you are intending to tour around Australia, visit your family or partner, study for up to 3 months, buy property, or undertake volunteer work in non-profit organisations.
If you have never visited Australia before, we recommend that you seek professional advice on which stream suits your circumstances best.
Visitor visas under the tourist stream may be applied for in or outside Australia. A letter of invitation from a friend or family may be included as part of your application, but usually the case officer will put greater focus on other aspects of your evidence.
If you are applying for a visitor visa under the tourist stream from outside Australia, your application will most likely be processed at the nearest Australian visa processing centre. Limited circumstances exist where your local processing centre is overloaded and your application may be transferred to another visa processing centre.
All case officers of the Department of Home Affairs are required to abide by Australian values. If you believe that your application under this stream has been refused unfairly, we recommend that you seek advice from a registered migration agent or lawyer before making another visa application under the same stream.
Sponsored family stream
Visitor visas under the sponsored family stream can only be applied for from outside Australia.
Applicants for this stream need a sponsor who is a "settled" Australian citizen or permanent resident. The visa sponsor is typically expected to have lived in Australia for 2 full years before the date of the visa application.
The sponsor needs to be a "relative" of the visa applicant, OR a relative of another applicant who is a member of the family unit of the applicant, OR a relative of another applicant in relation to whom the applicant is a member of the family unit.
A "relative" is defined under the legislation to mean:
- grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew, or a step-grandparent,
- stepgrandchild, step-aunt, step-uncle, step-niece or step-nephew,
- the spouse or de facto partner
- child, parent, brother or sister
- step-child, step-brother or step-sister
Visa holders under this stream will carry a mandatory 8503 No Further Stay condition. This condition prevents the visa applicant from making any further visa applications when they are in Australia.
This condition can only be waived in limited circumstances. The writer has encountered cases where the visitor visa applicant has had several prior visitor visa refusals under the tourist stream, and later succeeded when the subsequent visitor visa application was made under the sponsored family stream. Please note that this only applies on a case-by-case basis, and it is best to seek advice from a registered migration agent if you are eligible and most suited for an application under this stream.
8101 "No Work" Condition and Remote or Online Work
As a visitor visa holder under either stream, you are subjected to the 8101 condition, which means that you cannot work while you are holding this visa. There is no option to apply for work rights as a visitor visa holder.
If you are doing work remotely for an employer overseas that is incidental to your holiday in Australia, it is generally not a breach of the "no work" condition. For instance, you may be just keeping up to date with your work back home while on your holiday. So long as you can prove that you are not taking a job opportunity away from an Australian in Australia, it is unlikely that you will breach your "no work" condition.
After lodging an offshore partner visa
If you have lodged an offshore partner visa with strong supporting evidence, you may subsequently apply for a visitor visa in order to visit your partner in Australia while your partner visa is being processed. This is especially the case if there is a special occasion, you and your partner have lived together for a significant period of time.
After lodging an onshore partner visa
Lodging an onshore partner visa means that you will need to be onshore at the time of your visa's decision. When you lodge an onshore partner visa while on a substantive visa (such as a student or working holiday visa), you will be given a bridging visa A at the time of lodgement. If you have lodged an onshore partner visa and an urgent need arises for you to visit family outside of Australia (such as in the case of illness), you will need to organise an appropriate visa to return to Australia prior to departing. In the situation where you are holding a bridging visa A as described above, you will need to organise a bridging visa B which includes a travel facility prior to departing. We strongly recommend against departing without arranging for a means to return to Australia beforehand.
Other types of visas for visitors
As a visitor to Australia, you may also be eligible for the following visitor visas, dependent on which country you are applying from. We will be discussing these visas in detail in a blog article coming up shortly.
- subclass 651 eVisitor visa
- subclass 601 Electronic Travel Authority
Thinking of applying for a visitor visa and not sure which one is most suited for your next visit to Australia? Book a Strategy Session with our principal registered migration agent today for an in-depth discussion on your options.
Novel coronavirus (Covid-19 ) and your visitor visa
Update on 26 Feb 2021: A new legislation has been put in place to allow for nil VAC for certain subclass 600 visitor visa applicants. If you were last granted a Subclass 600 visitor visa, other than in the Frequent Traveller stream, while outside Australia before 21 March 2020, and are looking to apply for another subclass 600 visitor visa now, please seek advice on whether this new rule applies to you.
Update on 12/10/2020: Visitor visa holders who are overseas and visitor visas expired or will expire between March 2020 and December 2021 are eligible for a waiver when they apply for a new visa. Please note that you should organise to have a travel ban exemption granted prior to your visitor visa being finalised.
Update on 13/03/2020: Covid-19 bans have been extended for citizens of Italy, Iran, South Korea and China attempting to travel to Australia following the advice by the WHO that the virus has been escalated to a pandemic status.
Update on 02/02/2020: In view of the measures put in place by the Australian Government to ban all travellers from mainland China with the exception of Australian Citizens, Permanent Residents and immediate family members of Australian Citizens including spouses, minor dependents and legal guardians, many visa applicants or holders are left in a position of uncertainty. As a visa holder (such as the visitor visa), you may have been affected by the measures enacted due to the novel coronavirus Covid-19.
If you have been in mainland China before 01 February 2020 and have entered Australia, there is a possibility that your visa will be cancelled. If you have been granted a visitor visa and have been in mainland China before 01 February 2020, it is important that you do not seek entry to Australia.
If you are currently holding a visitor visa and are looking to extend your stay in Australia, please seek migration advice on how to organise this as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: The content on this page does not constitute legal or immigration advice. For advice on your specific circumstances, please book a Strategy Session here to speak to our Australian-registered migration consultant.