The ins and outs of the new tourist visa

Date: Sep 12, 2012

There's a new process for tourist and visitor visas in the lead up to the busy Christmas period and here's everything you need to know.

For a sponsored family visa (subclass 679) an application must be filled out and submitted by November 2nd.

This visa will allow you to travel, visit family and friends and study for up to three months. Typically the time period you're allowed to be in Australia for is three or six months. However under special circumstances, 12 months can be allowed. Talk to an immigration lawyer to discuss the finer details of what's needed to fit those criteria.

The immigration department warns that there are some factors which may delay the processing of a visa, which are beyond its control. Those include health examinations for those who are planning on staying longer than 3 months, over 75 year olds, if you've suffered from medical conditions previously or if you plan to enter a healthcare facility.

If you do need to refer to another department or a department outside Australia to have documents verified, it can take longer.

The department warns that if you don't submit your application on or before November 2, the department can't guarantee your visa will be processed in time for the December holiday period.

These changes come as the federal immigration and citizenship minister Chris Bowen has announced that nearing the end of 2012, parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents can stay in Australia for longer periods of time. The plan is to have a five-year visa with a maximum stay-over period of 12 months.

"I know that many people are patiently waiting in the queue for a parent visa so we want to provide more generous tourist visas to enable regular extended family visits.

"Tourist visa grants will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will enable parents to spend more time in Australia with their families while they wait for a parent visa,” Mr Bowen said.

This however, does not mean that visitors can stay for five years and make a token visit to somewhere like New Zealand every 12 months. Parents, like all tourists, must be outside of Australia for extended periods of time between trips.

For any questions regarding immigration visas, contact an experienced immigration lawyer who can help you through this process.