If you're busy planning your dream trip to Australia, your first priority is probably going to be deciding whether to visit the Great Barrier Reef or the Sydney Opera House first. But unfortunately there are a few pesky formalities to complete first - namely, getting your hands on the right travel documentation.
Types of visas
As one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, Australia and its government have made the process of obtaining a standard tourist visa a relatively simple one.
The UK is named on Australia's list of eligible countries, which means all you need to do - provided you don't have any criminal convictions that might scupper your plans - is apply via the Australian government's official website. There are no strict regulations about how much validity is required on your passport - although it is recommended that you have more than six months.
These types of visas are theoretically available for up to a year, but typically they are issued for three months at a time.
You can apply online for Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) which replaces the visa label and stamp and it not needed to visit the Australian Embassy. It is free but you have to pay a fee to the agency, but it is just a small amount considering the time you save.
Australia's "points system" is frequently referenced in immigration debates in UK politics, and it is correct that obtaining a valid work visa in Australia as an unskilled migrant is no easy feat.
If you are a skilled worker (this is a subjective term but the Aussie government website simply states that you must have been "sponsored by an approved business") then there's a good chance your application will be granted.
These visas can't last up to four years and you can apply from within Australia - which could be handy if you happen to get a nice job offer while on vacation.
Australia is home to some of the world's best universities and there are thousands of international students who flock there at the beginning of each academic year.
As with the work visa, getting a hold of a student visa relies on you having the requisite qualifications and being offered a place at one of the approved education institutions. In this instance, there is no strict maximum period of visitation - it simply depends on how long the course you are enrolling on is due to last.
In some cases, you can also get a temporary visa for a guardian who is coming to Australia in order to support you while you study.
Dos and don'ts
- Ensure your passport has at least six months validity remaining from the start of your departure date, together with a good, up to date photograph. This is a pretty obvious one, but the last thing you want is something silly like a dodgy looking passport ruining your trip.
- Source your visa well in advance of your departure date. Although Australian officials are efficient in processing your applicaton, giving yourself some breathing space allows you to correct any mistakes found and make sure everything is sorted before deadline.
- Withhold any information from the authorities. Again, fairly obvious here, but the Australian system can be strict and you need to be transparent in your application.
- Apply for a work visa without a firm job offer. Employers who are considering applicants from overseas understand your predicament and will not leave a shred of ambiguity after your interview - without a sponsor you won't get a visa, so your first priority should be to get that sorted.