01 April 2009
Visitors to Australia must present a valid passport that expires well beyond the date of departure. That Visa needs have been issued in the visitor's country of origin, unless the visitor happens to live in New Zealand. To apply for a visa you must apply by mail or in person to the Australian Embassy nearest to you.
Allow at least 4 weeks for processing. You will have to provide proof of your travel along with the proof you have enough money to support yourself throughout your stay. Should you wish to stay longer upon the arrival, you can contact the Department of Immigration and ask for an extension of your visa. If you ask for an extension for period of time exceeding a year, chances are big you will be denied.
You can also now apply online for a visa at http://www.immi.gov.au/visit/index.htm. If you are visiting Australia as a tourist, you caa apply for your visa (an Electronic Travel Authority or ETA) online http://www.eta.immi.gov.au, or ask your travel agent to arrange one for you. Australia's Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) system is the most advanced and streamlined in the world. It is the replacement for a visa label or a stamp in your passport, although stamps are still used where the ETA is not yet available.
An ETA enables visitors from passport-approved countries to obtain authority to enter Australia at the same time as they book their travel arrangements. There is no need for the traveller to complete an application form for a visa. The ETA is issued within seconds by computer, which links between the Department, over 300,000 travel agents, more than 75 airlines and specialist providers around the world.
A tourist ETA is free, allows a stay in Australia for up to three months, and is valid for multiple travel for one year. For US and Canadian citizens, there is a free business ETA which is valid for a single entry to Australia within one year. There is also a fee-based business ETA which is valid for multiple entries for the life of your passport. A list of countries (in addition to the US and Canada) whose citizens are also eligible for an ETA is listed at http://www.immi.gov.au/e_visa/eta.htm
If you find yourself out of money on your vacation and you want to work in Australia to raise the funds to get home, unless you have a work visa, or live in New Zealand, you are out of luck. To obtain a work visa you need to treat it just as you did your passport.
Expect about 4 weeks from the time applied till you hear back and apply through the Australian Embassy nearest your home. You will need a complete medical exam including a chest x-ray to show that you do not have tuberculosis. The quickest way to get a work visa is to find an Australian employer who will sponsor you. If you want to take a working holiday, this can be arranged, but you need to do your research first.
Australia has a unique system for people aging 18-30 of certain countries. It's called a Working Man's Holiday. You can stay in Australia a full year, but you can't work for the same employer longer than 3 months. Thus you travel the country looking for work, while taking a holiday. If you have solid clerical skills, know the restaurant business or would be willing to be a fruit-picker this might be just what you are looking for. See Australia while making some pocket change at the same time.