What ‘exactly’ is a Visitor Visa

There is no such thing as an Australian ‘Visitor’ visa exactly – when people talk about Visitor visas for Australia they are usually really talking about Tourist visas.  A Tourist visa allows a foreign citizen to visit Australia. The visit can be for purely tourism purposes, or to visit family, spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends or just friends. They are valid usually valid for periods of 3, 6 or 12 months. You can study for up to 3 months on them, but you cannot work.

Virtually all foreign nationals are required to have a visa to enter Australia, even for the purposes of visiting. There are three main types of Australian Visitor visa: one which covers only a handful of what are considered to be “low risk” countries by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), one which covers most European countries, and the third category which encompasses the rest of the world. Thai and  Filipina citizens, for example, come under the third category of Australian Visitor visa. As part of this third type they are required to  submit a paper application and submit a considerable amount of supporting documentation.

Visitor visas once prepared and submitted do not usually take very long to process relative to most other visas. If you are planning on visiting Australia and you do not come from one of the first two categories of countries (mention above) you need to make sure you give yourself time to prepare and obtain your Visitor – Tourist visa before booking your ticket to Australia.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is concerned with the risk of a visa holder overstaying their visa, the risk that they might want to work while in Australia, and the financial position of the Applicant. Unless strict guidelines are followed and all enquiries are satisfied it is highly likely that an Australian Visitor – Tourist visa application will be rejected. A large proportion of self-prepared applications are refused either because of poor preparation or because the ‘Applicant’ has mistaken or misinterpreted their eligibility for the visa. It is always advisable to speak to a trained and experienced Migration Agent whom can guide you and, in the long run, save you previous time, effort and money.

What is a legal marriage for a Partner visa?

You may have a Thai, Filipina, etc, girlfriend, Fiancé, or wife and are consulting with your Migration Agent about the best visa option to go for. If you decide to get married or are already married it is very important to understand what is a “legal marriage” for purpose of making a valid Partner visa application by marriage.

In many countries, including Thailand, it is very common for couples to get married in a traditional ceremony. Many Thai-Thai and even Thai-foreigner couples get married in this way.

Unfortunately however, these marriages will not usually be recognised by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) as a legal and valid marriage for the purpose of the Migration Act.

A traditional marriage in a country outside of Australia may or may not be officially and legally recognised under the law of that country. To be recognised the marriage will normally have to have some sort of formal documentation attached to it and it will need to be registered as a marriage in the government department that deals with such unions in that country.

For the sake of a marriage being legal under the Migration Act, in order to make a valid Partner visa application, it is not necessary for the couple to be married in Australia. It is ok if they are married in another country as long as their marriage is recognised in the other country as legally binding. There are some exceptions, such as same sex, underage or polygamous marriages, which are not accepted in Australia.

It is also important to recognize that DIAC looks at not just weather the couples are legally married but also whether or not they are in what is termed a “married relationship”. DIAC states that persons are in a married relationship if:

-        they are married to each other under a marriage that is valid for the purposes of the Migration Act 1958;

-        they have a mutual commitment to a shared life as husband and wife to the exclusion of all others;

-        the relationship between them is genuine and continuing; and

-        they live together or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis.