How to apply for an Australian visa online in the Philippines via ImmiAccount

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Good news: the Philippines is now among the select countries whose citizens can apply for an Australian tourist visa online directly at the official website of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) of the Australian Government. Before this welcome development, Filipinos residing in the Philippines had no choice but to go through a third-party service provider to get their visas. You can still apply the old-fashioned way through the Australian Embassy’s new partner, VFS Global, but you will be charged an additional service fee on top of the visa fee, not to mention courier fees for document collection and return.

Visitor visa (subclass 600) Visa Grant Notice from the Australian Embassy in Manila

Applying online is definitely cheaper and more convenient, especially for provincial applicants. It is also environmentally friendly as it saves a lot of ink and paper. A visa label is also not required, which means you don’t have to submit your passport to the embassy along with your application. (I remember my mother having to cancel a trip to another country because her passport was still stuck at the Italian Embassy, back when we applied for our Schengen visas.)

This guide is based on our own application for tourist visas last month, and may not apply to other types of visas and non-Filipino residents of the Philippines.

1. Create an ImmiAccount

ImmiAccount is the DIBP’s online visa application system. Click here for the direct link to register for an account as an individual. You will need to have a valid email address.

2. Start your application

Once you’ve created an ImmiAccount, you can log in and start a new application. For a tourist visa, choose Visitor > Visitor Visa (600). Filipinos are not eligible for the other choice, the free eVisitor (651) visa.

How early should you apply? Their standard processing time for a subclass 600 Visitor Visa is one month. It is best to apply about two months before your departure date, so that if they do take the standard one month, you will still have a whole month left to plan your trip in earnest. My application personally took a month.

It’s pretty straightforward from there. You are also able to save your application and get back to finish it later, if you feel you need more time to review it.

3. Submit your application and pay the fee

After you send in your application, you will be prompted to pay the visa fee by credit card. For a subclass 600 Visitor Visa, the fee is AUD 130. Acceptable credit cards are: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club, and JCB. There is a surcharge for credit card payment, but it is very minimal. According to my billing statement, the total amount I paid in peso after conversion is around PHP 5,500. Even with the surcharge, it is less than the fixed PHP 5,700 you will be charged if you apply through VFS Global.

If you don’t have a credit card, it’s very easy to get a prepaid or debit Visa or MasterCard. You can even apply online. I personally recommend BPI’s My ePrepaid MasterCard and UnionBank’s EON Visa Electron.

After payment, you will receive an acknowledgment email confirming the successful submission of your visa application.

4. Attach your scanned documents

You can now attach the necessary documents to support your application. You can attach the requirements only after submission of your application and payment of the visa fee, and not before. Please click the following links for the official list of recommended supporting documents:

VISITOR VISA – TOURIST STREAM SUBCLASS – 600 APPLICATION CHECKLIST PHILIPPINES
Visitor visa (subclass 600) Tourist Stream: document checklist

For a subclass 600 Visitor Visa application, you can only attach a maximum of 30 files, with a file size limit of 5 MB each. Click here for the list of accepted file formats. I recommend scanning your requirements at 200 dpi.

We personally attached clear scans of the following:

  • Cover letter with itinerary. This is not required, but since there is no personal interview, we included one to better explain the purpose of our visit. There are two of us in our traveling party, and we submitted the same letter. (We previously answered ‘Yes’ to the group processing question in our application.) You can download our sample cover letter here.
  • Recent passport-size photograph
  • Information page of passport (notarized). Tip: to save on notarial fees, you can visit your local Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), where they will notarize your documents for a minimal “donation”.
  • NSO birth certificate (notarized)
  • Bank passbook (notarized)
  • NSO marriage certificate. My travel partner attached this as evidence of her name change.
  • Latest credit card billing statements
  • Evidence of employment
  • Confirmed round-trip flight booking. The DIBP does not require nor recommend buying plane tickets before applying for a visa, but we risked to buy because they were promo fares (the low price was hard to resist).
  • Previous Australian visa. My travel partner has an old Australian visa; we scanned it along with the information page of her old passport. She got her Visa Grant Notice one week before I (a first-time applicant) did, even though we requested for group processing.
  • Evidence of previous overseas travel. We scanned previous and current visas to other countries as well as recent immigration stamps, along with the information pages of old passports if the visas were attached to them.

And that’s it. After the initial acknowledgment email, we didn’t hear from the DIBP again until they emailed us our Visa Grant Notice 3-4 weeks later. To verify your visa status, you can use the DIBP’s Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service. You can also access this page through the QR code on the upper right hand corner of the Visa Grant Notice (see image above).

All in all, applying online for an Australian tourist visa through ImmiAccount was a smooth and painless process. Hopefully other countries will follow suit and transition to an online visa application system.

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