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Australia Visa Requirements for South Africans

South Africans do not qualify for the Electronic Travel Authority or eVisitor visas. Sorry! So, to holiday in Australia, most of us travelling on a South African passport will apply for a visitor visa. The visitor visa (or more precisely, "subclass 600") allows for holidaying, visiting family and carrying out certain business activities one might need to do on a visiting basis. Assuming you're not going to Aussie for medical treatment or business purposes (ie just pure holiday), then you'll want to apply for the "Tourist stream", and that is what we focus on on this page. A complication which is unique to trying to get a visa to Australia, is that South Africans applying for the visa first have to create an account on the Australian Government's website to submit forms and documents, before they have to create another account on TLSContact's website to set up an in-person appointment. We hope this web page helps clarify the process.

The visa lets you know how many times you may enter Australia, and what the total period of stay may be; the maximum stay granted is typically 3 or 6 months; although it can be up to 12 months (or even more if there are "exceptional circumstances" - whatever that might be). The visa could be single visa or multi-visa - you apply for what you want and the Australian authorities will decide what they will give. This web page focuses on applying for the subclass D600 Tourism stream visitor visa.

You do not need a visa to Australia if you are:

  • A New Zealand citizen or resident.

  • An Australian citizen or resident.

Exercise care when doing your visa application, as if you submit info which is incorrect you could get banned from making a further application for an Australian visa for 10 years.

This article assumes you are a South African citizen without dual Australian citizenship or the right to live in the Australia; and that you are wanting a tourist Visa to Australia (if you are not sure what visa you require, then navigate to this find a visa page).

Get a visa for Australia with a South African passport

The information on this page should be double-checked on the official application forms. This web page attempts to provide you with guidance on applying.

There are several steps to obtaining an Australian visa:

Step 1: Check your Passport

You need a South African passport with at least 6 months of validity after the date of your travels to the Australia.

Step 2: Collect Documentation

Certified copies of all original documents are required, but police certificates must be the originals. If you supply documents in a language other than English, then they must be accompanied by certified English translation. You will also need to supply a completed version of the application form, and it's important that you use the latest version of the form depending on the visa you're looking for (click here for a list of all visas' forms); for many people visiting as a tourist, this may be titled "Application for a visitor visa - tourist stream" (form 1419). Where there are differences with this web page, naturally the official list obtained via the link above applies. Each applicant must fill in their own separate form - and to be a bit pedantic, note that a child counts as a separate applicant and each of them must have their own forms filled out.

You will need to provide documentation which convinces Australian immigration authorities that you:

  • have sufficient funds to support yourself during your holiday in Australia. Demonstrate this with recent pay slips, bank statements; or alternatively if somebody else is paying for your trip, provide evidence that they have the funds. Include details of the company you work for - their business registration number, license, bank statements, import/export permits and address.

  • meet the health requirements. Unfortunately, South Africa is not one of the countries which are exempt from health examinations because of the prevalence of TB; what this means is that if you are planning on being in Australia for 6 months or more then you'll have to go for a health examination; including a chest x-ray and medical examination. If you are going to be in Australia for less than 6 months then "No health examinations required unless special significance applies". Special significance includes such things as being older than 75, likely to be spending time at an Australian childcare centre, likely to be spending time in a hospital or health care area, likely to work or study to work as a paramedic, nurse doctor or dentist, you are pregnant and likely to give birth in Australia. Additionally to showing you meet the health requirements, it's recommended that you take out health insurance to easily prove that you will be able to cover any medical costs which arise (yes, those are naturally for your own pocket, you don't qualify for Medicare - click here to read a story about travellers who picked up heavy medical bills in Australia). If you are over 75 years old you need to do a health assessment to prove that you are fit enough to travel (click here for details), and have to have international medical insurance for the period of your trip. You may be required to do a more detailed health assessment if you are applying for a long stay visitor visa. If you are travelling with children and you are planning to let them go to a creche/preschool/school then you should ensure that they are vaccinated, and carry the certification with you - diphtheria, Haemophilus, Hepatitis B, polio, measles, rubella, pertussis and tetanus.

  • are going to do, and only do the activities in the Tourism stream. Provide a detailed itinerary. Include details of your hotel reservations or if you're staying with a friend/family then their details and a letter of invitation to visit. This also involves making Australia comfortable that you are going to leave at the end of your stay; e.g. provide evidence of property you own in South Africa, ask your employer to write a letter indicating that the leave is temporary and you are returning to your job, list family members who stay in South Africa and/or show that you are enrolled at a university, school or college which you'll be returning to, to study.

  • meet the character requirements, as set out in the Migration Act. You will need to answer a plethora of questions about your criminal record.

  • Provide copies of your military discharge papers and service record; if applicable.

  • do not owe any money to Australia's government.

  • if you are a parent/step-parent of somebody residing in Australia, then point this out, as they'll be more open to providing a longer stay.

If you're younger than eighteen then the following documents are required, signed before a Notary:

  • Form 1257.

  • Proof that you are a student at your school/college/university.

  • Prove that all those who lawfully may decide where you may be, consents to you being in Australia.

  • If one or both of your parents wont be accompanying you, then you need your unabridged birth certificate, a completed Form 1229 signed by both parents and with both parents' ID/passport and photos.

  • Provide two forms of ID, with a signature, for a parent who is not accompanying you.

  • If one of your parents have died, then provide evidence that your remaining parent or legal guardian has legal custody over you.

  • If there are any legal custody issues, then provide details thereof.

  • If both your parents aren't travelling with you; then you will require a declaration signed by the person who will be taking care of you in Australia.

Additionally:

  • a copy of the pages in your passport which shows your personal details and photograph), and other countries to which you have travelled.

  • Specify the street address (not postal address!) where you are staying whilst your visa application is being considered, and inform if you change your address for more than 2 weeks (14 days).

  • Passport photos taken in the last 6 months.

  • If you're wanting somebody else to receive communications, then complete form 956, 956A and Part K.

Ensure that all documents are certified.

Once you have completed all the forms, make a copy for yourself.

Step 3: Apply online via an IMMI account

We assume you're residing in South Africa, ie outside of Australia (there are different rules for applying within Australia, e.g. when trying to extend a visa). You will first set up an online IMMI account with the Australian Government's Department of Immigration and Border Protection. This is where you will fill in the application form and also upload the documents required for the visa. Once you submit this, you will receive a confirmation email. In this email, you will get an attachment and in it you will see a bar-code and a number under it. This is your VLN number. You will require the VLN number for the next step in the process, when you set up an appointment with TLScontact.

Click here to create an online IMMI Account. Once you have logged in, click "New application".

Select the type of application you're making, either:

  • Temporary Skill Shortage Visa

  • Air & Sea Crew

  • APEC

  • Citizenship

  • Family

  • Health

  • Refugee & Humanitarian

  • Resident Return

  • Skilled Migration

  • Student

  • Temporary Work (Activity)

  • Visitor

  • Work & Holiday

We will assume you have selected "Visitor", and then "Visitor Visa (600).

Read the Terms and Conditions, and we'll assume that you agree to them! You will then be asked some questions to contextualise your application:

Contextual questions to place your Australian visa application

You will then be required to fill out a number of details on your passport, where you were born, your relationship status, citizenship, etc...

The above is to get you started, there are a plethora of additional questions and documents you must submit, at the end of which you receive a VLN number by email (the VLN number is the number under the bar-code).

Step 4: Set up appointment with TLScontact

In order to progress to this step you must have first obtained a VLN number, as outlined in the previous step. You must make an appointment before going to the TLScontact visa application centre to do your application. Select the visa application centre you'd like to use by clicking here. At the top left of the following screen click "Register" to set up a profile with your email address, or log in if you already have a profile. You will then be given a TSLScontact reference number (e.g. M123456). Please note that you will then need to create an application in order to book your appointment as per the steps described below:

  • Click "Create an application".

  • Fill in the application with the purpose of your travel and your personal information.

  • Confirm the application by clicking on the "Confirm" button.

  • Choose your appointment date and time.

    During your visit, you should inter alia provide your original passport, the confirmation letter (with a barcode) and the service fees amount.

Step 5: Fees

There are 2 types of fees which are payable: (1) an application service fee, and (2) a visa application charge. These fees are not set out here, as they are changed on 1 July of each year. You can find the application fees and service fees on this page. These fees are non-refundable - e.g. if your visa is refused you don't get your money back. These fees are paid to TLScontact. The preferred method of payment is via credit card, but debit cards may also be used.

TLScontact

The Australian Department of Immigration has contracted TLScontact to assist with visa applications and the collection of biometric information (fingerprints, etc...) for those residing in Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The information required varies by country. TLScontact has 5 points of presence in South Africa:: Cape Town, Durban, Joburg, Pretoria/Tshwane and PE/Port Elizabeth.

All the South African offices share the same phone number: 012 472 3800. If you prefer email, you can fill in the form at https://au.tlscontact.com/za/cpt/inquiry.php

Once TLScontact has collected the information, they forward it to the Australian immigration authorities, who make the decision as to whether or not to give you the visa. TLScontact has no decision-making power, it merely fulfills an administrative role.

Cape Town

Address: 2 De Smit Street (turn left off Somerset Road), Green Point, Cape Town, 8051.

Durban

Address: 3rd floor, Office Tower, The Atrium, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Overport City, Durban, 4001.

Johannesburg

Address: 8 Gwen Lane, Sandown, Sandton, 2031.

Pretoria/Tshwane

Address: 87 Frikkie De Beer Street, Menlyn, Pretoria, 0063.

Port Elizabeth

66 Ring Rd (in between Ring Road and Cape Road), Fairview Office Park, Greenacres.

Emigrating to Australia

On an annual basis, a massive total of some 200,000 people emigrate to Australia. There are 2 ways in which permanent emigrants enter the country:

  1. The Humanitarian Program for refugees and the Special Humanitarian Program.

  2. The Migration Program for skilled and family migrants. About two thirds of the slots available are for skilled workers, and the remaining one third is for their families.

There are a variety of ways in which temporary migrants can enter Australia, many of whom later become permanent migrants.

Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417 & 462)

Whilst the main reason for the trip is holidaying, the traveller also wants to do some work

In January 2017 Australia introduced a 15% tax on earnings for working holidaymakers.

Student Visa

To apply to study in Australia for a period longer than 3 months, you'll need to apply for a student visa. To apply to study in Australia for a period longer than 3 months, you'll need to apply for a student visa.

Australia have a large foreign student population - about half a million people - with China and then India being the countries providing the most students. Foreign students have the right to work up to twenty hours a week whilst they're in Australia. Once one has finished their studies, some qualify for a temporary graduate 485 visa which allows full-time work for at least two years; whilst others stay longer by switching to a visa for partners of Australian residents, tourists and some, even, asylum seekers.

But be aware that studies have shown that international students (and backpackers) are exploited by employers in Australia, by paying them half the minimum salary.

Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189)

This is a points system, where you must achieve at least 60 points, with points varying depending inter alia on your skills. You must have a job on the skilled occupation list, good english language skills, be younger than 45, and be invited to apply. The steps are:

  1. Check that you score at least sixty points and that your occupation is on the medium & long-term strategic skills list.

  2. Submit an "expression of interest". There is no cost to doing this.

  3. Wait to be invited to apply (or not!).

  4. Get all the documentation ready with which to apply.

  5. Within sixty days of being invited to apply, you must have applied.

Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)

To apply; you would need to be younger than 45 if going via the "Direct Entry stream" or younger than 50 if going the "Temporary Residence stream"; be nominated by an approved Australian company to work and live in Australia, and be sufficiently competent in english and have the skills and qualifications to do the job. You can take your family with you to Australia, but would have to pay a fee for each of them.

You would submit an "expression of interest", which prospective employers can look at and decide whether they are interested in hiring you.

Temporary Skills Shortage Visa

Employers wanting to employ foreign workers may try to issue them the Temporary Skills Shortage Visa.

The Temporary Skills Shortage Visa comes to life in March 2018. It will entail applying for either a Medium-Term visa of up to 4 years or a Short-Term visa of up to 2 years; replacing the so-called Subclass 457 visa. The Short-Term visa holders will not be able to shift to permanent residence, but the Medium Term visa holders will be able to apply after working 3 years, via the Subclass 186 program.

Companies will be required to provide evidence of their attempt to first fill the position locally.

Every 6 months the list of skilled occupations is updated. The following occupations are planned to be removed from the sponsorship list in Jan 2018: Accommodation Managers, Building Associates, Hair or Beauty Salon Managers and Recruitment Consultants. Pilots are expected to once again be added to the list (they were removed early in 2017). The following may also be added: Property Manager, Psychotherapist, Real Estate Agents and Real Estate Representatives.

Spouse / Partner Visa

If you are married or in a long-term relationship with an Australian citizen, then you can apply to join them in Australia with a permanent partner visa (subclass 100 or 801) or temporary Partner visa (subclass 309 or 820). With a temporary partnership visa, you have 24 months to prove to Australian authorities that the relationship is genuine, after which you can apply for permanent partner visa. A permanent Partner visa allows you to remain indefinitely in the country and to work there.

In December 2017 rules were updated to allow same-sex partners to apply for a Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300) or a Partner visa (subclasses 100, 309, 801 and 820).

Parent Visa

This visa is to let the parents of immigrants be in Australia for lengthy periods of time (e.g. 3 years / 5 years / 10 years). This has not yet been approved by the Australian Senate.

Bridging Visa E

There are 2 kinds of Bridging Visa E:

  1. 051: for "eligible" non-Australian citizens, who can make a bridging visa application. For example, Cristina Cristea married an Australian citizen, later divorced, and then met and is dating a new Australian citizen. She has applied for a partner visa, and while she awaits the outcome of that application she has been placed on a Bridging Visa E.

  2. 050: for for those are are unlawful or hold a Bridging Visa D 041.

Investment Visa

This visa falls into subclasss 188 and the official name for it is "Business Innovation and Investment visa". Holding this visa is the route to eventually qualifying for a subclass 888 "Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) visa".

There are 5 categories:

  1. Investor (AU$1.5m)

  2. Significant Investor (AU$5m)

  3. Premium Investor (AU$15m)

  4. Business Innovation

  5. Entrepeneur

This visa allows yourself and your family to stay in Australia; where family includes your spouse/partner and children and stepchildren (of both yourself and your spouse/partner).

It can take up to 2 years (or more!) to process a visa request.

Investor

Requires an investment of at least AU$1.5m into qualifying assets. A minimum of 65 points are required.

Significant Investor

Requires an investment of at least AU$5m into qualifying assets. No points requirement.

Premium Investor

Requires an investment of at least AU$15m into qualifying assets. The qualifying assets range from relatively safe Australian government bonds to philanthropic contributions. No points requirement. Austrade must nominate you. You must have a genuine commitment to continue the investment if/once a Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) visa is awarded.

Business Innovation

A minimum of 65 points is required.

Entrepeneur Visa

The entrepeneur visa was introduced in September 2016, and only had one applicant in its first year (it's not clear if the applicant was successful). . Entrepeneurs must have at least AU$200k of funding from certain third parties; such as specified higher education institutions, commonwealth agencies, publicly funded research organisations and investors registered as Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnerships or Venture Capital Limited Partnerships. There is no points requirement.

Scams

Unfortunately there are visa-related scams out there which target people who are desperate to get a job in Australia. The most common fraud is from criminals who trick the unsuspected into believing that they can work in Australia with an ordinary travel visa. That visa is intended only for tourism and short business visits, and does not carry any rights to work in Australia.

If there are any errors in this document, please let us know at rob@southafrica.to