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Australia Visa Tips for US Residents

Whitest Sand In The World
The whitest sand beach in the world

I made the mistake of assuming Australia, like most European countries, would issue a visa at the border. When checking in for my flight to Sydney out of Frankfurt, I had quite the scare when they notified me the computer didn’t show me as having a visa. Luckily the woman directed me to another counter where the airline sold me an e-visa (They jacked up the price though, and they definetely didn’t input my info properly). US Residents, even tourists, must get a visa (ETA – Electronic Travel Authority) before being allowed on their flight.

The most common type of Australian Visa is for tourism, which allows stays of up to 3 months per visit, and is good for 12 months. You’re not allowed to work on this visa, although you can certainly find employers willing to break this rule. The visa is technically free, however they charge $20 AUD service charge, so it’s not really. It sucks they charge unlike their European Ancestors, however this is much better than the €60’s I think I had to pay at the airport in Germany. By definition this is the type of visa you can refresh by leaving the country for a few days and coming back, however they stress its not designed for this, so you risk being turned away at the border upon re-entry if they dont like you. I would guess they’ll be changing this policy sometime in the future similar to how most countries in Europe are doing it these days, where you’re allowed 90 out of every 180 days from the date of first entry.

If you’re thinking you’d like to stay legally for longer than the 90 days your tourist visa allows, they offer a 1 year extended stay tourist visa for $105 AUD, or a 1 year working holiday visa for $235 AUD, where you can hold any given job for up to 6 months at a time. If this is what you’re after, I advise you learn from my mistake and don’t be lazy, assuming it’ll be easy to get by going down to the Consular Services once you’re here. I did this, and had to pay $255 AUD to extend my visa for only 3 extra months. So, I had to pay an extra $140 AUD, plus the cost of my normal ETA visa so I could stay an additional 3 months rather than a full year.

When planing your Australia trip, get your visa in advance. I don’t know the specifics for people from other countries, but I’d imagine this applies to you too.

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