Australia tourist visa guide for Indians

logo-3.3-with-bgGrant Notification: [My passport number]

That was the subject of the email I received from the department of immigration and border protection of the Australian government.

I did a heels-click jump in my mind. That was pretty quick. Eight days, to be precise when they had told me it would take around 15 working days for them to process my visa.

Here’s how I went about applying for the Australian tourist visa.

VFS handles the Australian visa process and I paid them a visit some days before I planned to submit my application. They directed me to a room a girl sat behind a glass window apparently ready to answer all my questions.

“Hello!” I started. “The info wasn’t quite clear on the website. What are the documents I need to submit for a tourist visa application?”

“There are no specified documents. You can submit whatever you want,” she replied.

“But surely, there must be some documents that are absolutely necessary?”

“There are no specified documents. You can submit whatever you want,” she repeated like clockwork.

“So, you’re saying I don’t even need to submit an application form?” I was going crazy.

“That, you will need sir.”

“And flight tickets?”

“That should be helpful too!”

I couldn’t believe it! Why wouldn’t she say this in the first place?! “Is there any other document that the visa department will find useful?”

“If you want, I could give you an application form and a document checklist,” she said.

There was an actual checklist and I have no clue why I had to prod her for so long to unearth that.

She handed me those two in a minute. The checklist was a full three printed pages! I later dug it out online. Here’s the link to it.

The checklist mentioned notarised copies of all the pages of the current passport. But the girl said VFS could certify them at the rate of INR10 a page. I decided that should be easier. The checklist also mentioned a 45mmX35mm passport sized photograph. But there was no mention of the size of the face.

The visa fees was INR7,700 and I had to submit a demand draft on behalf of “Australian High Commission” payable in New Delhi. VFS charges INR910 for their services.

The rest was pretty easy to understand.

One thing I find irritating about VFS is that despite being this big company partnering with so many governments around the world, they make it plainly obvious every time that they are just another middleman perpetually looking for a bigger cut than already promised.

When I was applying for my Canada visa in 2013, they had tried to reject my photograph on the pretext that the background wasn’t white and wanted me to have my picture clicked at their facility at an exorbitant price. When I pointed out that the official website mentioned a “light” background and not necessarily a “white” background, they went on the defensive and said they’d send it if I insisted, but they wouldn’t take responsibility if it was rejected (they are not responsible for anything anyway!). I asked them to ahead with it and I had no problems getting the visa.

DESTINATION AUSTRALIA
DESTINATION AUSTRALIA

Over the next few days, I arranged all the required documents for my current application. Here’s what I got together:

  • Filled in Form No. 1419 (Application for a Visitor visa- Tourist stream)
  • A demand draft on behalf of AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMMISSION for INR7,700 payable in New Delhi
  • Photocopies of all printed pages of my passport
  • Photocopy of my birth certificate
  • A 45mmX35mm passport sized photograph glued to the form
  • My plane tickets
  • A simple itinerary mentioning rough dates and the places I wanted to visit
  • My bank statement showing enough money to cover for my trip
  • Photocopies of my income tex returns of the past three years
  • Proof of investments I have made in my home country
  • Letter from my employer confirming that I am an employee of the firm and have been granted leave
  • Copies of my payslips of the past three months
  • Travel insurance

Armed with all this, I turned up at the VFS office again on a late December morning and said hi to the same girl again. She inspected my documents and said I had missed photocopying one page of my passport and I could do it from them. So I did, at, of course, double the regular charge from elsewhere. Once this problem was fixed, she proceeded to peel off my passport sized photograph I had pasted in the application form, saying the face had to be 80 per cent of the photograph and mine was too small.

This was mentioned nowhere and I still wonder if she just made it up or if VFS trains its employees to squeeze whatever extra money they can from clients. I could, of course, use their facilities and get a zoomed-in version of that photograph. However, I had a couple of photographs of the kind she wanted and handed them over.

I paid the VFS service charge and the passport page notarising fee at the counter and I was done. She checked all my documents, handed me the receipt and said the visa should land in my email in 15 working days. She didn’t even keep my passport.

I was a little surprised that the visa wouldn’t be pasted in my passport. But then I came back and read it up. You can find the details here.

I got the email after eight days.

Australia, here I come!

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51 thoughts on “Australia tourist visa guide for Indians

  1. hello! i have some extra questions …
    maybe you can email me the answers if you dont want to write.
    how much money did you have in savings?
    the link isnt working for the checklist… got another link?
    do you have to book flights for visa application? noramlly they say dont book till you hVe the visa…?
    was there any information about someone in australia inviting an indian and saying they will sponsor them and be paying their trip???
    please write back asap
    thanks
    kiera

    1. Hi,
      My trip was four weeks and as far as I remember, I showed them around INR200000 after I’d booked my flights. I’ve updated the link and you should be able to see it now. Plus the post has the list of documents I’d submitted. So that should be helpful.
      Like I mentioned, they didn’t have an official set of required documents. So, the more documents you submit, the better your chances are of getting the visa. I had booked my flights.
      About the invite, if you have a friend who can send you an invite like that, it should make things smoother. I’d furnished some hotel bookings. Worked fine for me.
      Hope this helps. All the best.
      ~A

  2. Hi dear,

    Nice info u have shared,
    But i would like to know… Do i require to notarize all the docs.
    And one more thing do i have to carry all original docs.

    1. You need to notarise copies of all the pages of your passport that you are submitting with the application. The only document I have mentioned is the birth certificate. Yes, carry that one. They will at the most ask to see it. They won’t keep it. And the passport you will have to carry of course. Since this visa is emailed to your inbox and not pasted on your passport, you don’t have to submit your passport with the application either.

  3. Hi, Thanks for the information. I am planning to travel to Australia for 2 weeks as a tourist. As per the Tourist visa check list available on VFS site, character and health documents are required. Where you asked to submit them. If yes, what are they?

    Thanks
    Vijay

    1. Hi Vijay, I wasn’t asked to submit them. I only submitted a letter from my employer saying I was an employee and that I would resume work on the specified date. I think you can just pay the VFS office a visit prior to your application and ask directly.
      Best
      Andy

    1. There is no official amount. Depending on the number of days you’re going to stay there, the more you can show the better. To be safe, I guess it’s ok if you are able to show at least AUD200 a day without hotel bookings, probably a little less with bookings.

  4. Hi Andy, thank you for the post. Kindly share if Travel Insurance is mandatory. Also, I do not have birth certificate. Can I show them my School Certificate (Class 10th) instead?

    1. Hi Shikha,
      If you check the link on the post, you will find that travel insurance isn’t mandatory. But then, it will only make your application stronger. And if you ask me, you should never travel outside the country without insurance. Check this out http://travelandy.com/why-travel-insurance-is-important/ Also, you don’t need birth certificate to apply for a Australia visa. Your date of birth is there in your passport and that will suffice.

  5. Another question: Can we apply for all family members together in a group ? do they need be physically there for any biometirc verification ?

    1. I suppose you just have to submit your applications together along with booking details. I don’t think they had biometric when I applied. But that was some time ago. What I’d suggest is go to the application centre before you apply and get all your queries answered. Then apply accordingly because that makes the process so much smoother.

      1. Hi, I just got tourist visa for 4 of my family members incl me, today. We did not have to visit the VFS office. I had submitted the documents through an agent.

        1. That’s great Sandip! Of course, travel agents get stuff done if you pay them. This post is for budget travellers who are ready to do some legwork to save a bit of money 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family Down Under.

  6. Hey Andy,
    Firstly, this is a very knowledgeable post. Secondly, I have 2 questions if you can help me out. I will be visiting Melbourne around 12 Feb. I have the last day in my current company on 10 Feb. Also, I have the joining for my new company on 1 March. I am visiting Aus in the days that I have in between. Since, my current employer is not giving a letter for visa purposes, what is the alternative document(s) that I can submit?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Piyush, I am glad you found the post useful. The letter from your employer isn’t mandatory. If you want to submit an alternative, I believe you can show them the appointment letter of your new job.

  7. Hello,
    Thanks for sharing your experience . Your post is really Knowledgable .
    I had a Query ! I was intending to travel to Australia in March , but was not sure of the Exact dates. I was making Hotel bookings which I can freely cancel , if my plans change . But was not clear about what to do about Flight Bookings , as Major airlines to Australia charge High Cancellation charges/ charges for Alteration of dates.
    So wanted to know are Confirmed return flight tickets mandatory documents for the Tourist Visa ? Do blocked air tickets work ?

    Thank you in advance .

    1. Amit, Thank you for your kind words. On the official site, they only want an itinerary of your trip. There’s no mention of a plane ticket. But then, a return plane ticket always makes your tourist visa application stronger. If your travel agent can block tickets and issue you a booking confirmation number without you having to pay, my guess is it should work.

      1. hi andy. Apparently my parents have booked the ticket for 2nd week of april and they are non refundable. My parents went to VFS and they said that you do not need to submit the tickets as it is not necessary and the visa link says the same thing too but according to your info there is a link which says “need tickets before applying”. kindly send me that link so i can rectify the issue.

        1. Hi Tezz, I think you’re mistaken because there is no such link on my post. You do not need confirmed tickets to apply for a visa. But confirmed return tickets should make your application stronger if you’re applying for a tourist visa.

  8. Hi, thanks for this detailed process. This is very very helpful.

    I have a query, I am planning to visit on 13th May. Tickets are done. I am planning to apply for visa ASAP. Do you think it is ok to apply on March or shall I apply on April? Just wanted to have the visa before doing the hotel bookings and all. And that will give me enough time to plan my vacation.

    1. Animesh, Glad you find this useful. You can apply in March but even if you apply in April, you still have a lot of time. About hotel bookings, they are not mandatory. In my case, I was doing a road trip and the plan was the stay in a campervan. So I didn’t have any hotel bookings to show anyway.

  9. Hello. I will be travelling with my wife and daughter (12years) on tourist visa. Will there be separate appication, or can I include them in single application.
    2. Do I need to submit a covering letter as required elsewhere.
    Regards

  10. Hi Andy, your post was very helpful. Thanks for that . My question is is IT returns mandatory for Australia Visit visa or simply pan card is enough ? Plz inform .

    Thanks

    Ahmed

    1. Ahmed,
      It’s not mandatory. I don’t think you’ll need a PAN card either. There’s a link to the document checklist in the post. You can have a look at that.

      1. Hi Andy, Thanks for your quick reply . One more question if u could answer me would be helpful.

        Is it a sticker Visa ( Pasted on passport ) or is it simply a paper visa ? In what form you got

          1. You should get in touch with the visa submission centre immediately and ask what’s wrong. I am not sure if they notify you if they decide not to grant you a visa.

  11. Hi Andy. I want to visit visa for Australia. April last week. Hotel booking and plan return tikit is necessary that times ????Can you tell me there is an inquiry in English?I am under stand English but some time I am not speak well. I am sye.

    1. Jitendera,
      Hotel booking and plan tickets are not compulsory but they will only make your application stronger and increase your chances of getting the visa. I don’t know where you are based, but there should be people at the visa centre who can speak the local language. If you find understanding the rules too complicated, take the help of a local travel consultant/agency for the visa. All the best!

  12. Hats off for great job on posting useful info. Is it mandatory to go through vfs or one can apply to Au high commission New Delhi ?

    1. Thank you very much. The Australian government has outsourced the visa service job to VFS and applicants need to go through them.

  13. Hi,
    Looks like it isn’t as simple …. I’ve submitted my visit visa for my family of 4 on 14th March. We had tkts on 13th April which we lost ..,, and there is still no sign of the visa. I’m absolutely frustrated and VFS have been utterly useless with their responses.
    Not sure how to go about things …. I may have to shelve the plan to travel as my return is planned for 29th April !

    Any advice?

    Tarun

    1. Tarun, It’s difficult for me to say something without being aware of all the details of your application and how you have followed up.

  14. HELLO ANDY
    SIR I JUST WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THAT IF WE DONT HAVE A TRAVEL HISTORY IS THERE ANY EFFECT ON THE AUSSIE VISA.
    THANKS

    1. Shubham, From what I understand, Australia visa officers prefer applicants who have a few first world visas on their passports. But generally, it’s always easier to get a new visa if you already have some visas on your passport. But then, people do have to start somewhere! Make a strong application and convince the visa officer that you have enough reasons to return to your home country and you will get the visa.

      1. how much does it cost for indians for aust tourist visa AUD? is it hard for them to get Aust tourist visa?? my freind is living over there, she has her own business in sth india.

        1. Jane,
          An Aus tourist visa will cost an Indian national around AUD160. Now, whether getting the visa will be simple or hard depends on several factors. If your friend is well-travelled, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. If not, she needs to furnish documents to convince the visa officer that she has enough reason to return home after her trip and not stay on.

  15. HI Andy. You are very considerate in your helpful attitude. I have a couple of queries. Is Income tax returns mandatory for a simple tourist visa or just mere submission of form 16 will suffice ? And do they keep these documents (including bank balance statements) or return it to us on the spot after verification ??. Thanks

    1. Krishna, Form 16 not needed. Only IT returns if you have them, and they are not mandatory. Bank statements they will keep. You can just download copies of your bank statement through netbanking, you know.

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