For the subclass 600 Visitor group of visas, Australia has put in place a policy enabled by migration regulations designed to assess the likelihood that an applicant may overstay his/her visa or otherwise breach their visa conditions while in Australia. Satisfying this policy forms part of the requirements for these two visa subclasses.
The following language is taken directly from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Procedures Advice Manual (PAM3) and is current as of 15 April 2017. Please note that this information is not immigration law or regulation, and represents only general guidelines that DHA can use to interpret migration laws and regulations.
The following information is intended for general information only, and is not migration advice and does not constitute guidance for lodging an application for a subclass 600 or any other visa – it is solely intended to help you better understand how DHA assesses the Genuine Visitor regulations as applied to subclass 600 visas. The following references, but does not include Australian immigration law and regulations that form the framework for visa applications. For more information on migration regulations and complete details on the subclass 600 visitor visas, please contact us.
Genuine Visitor Principles and Policy
Current as of 15 April 2017
The principles governing the entry of visitors (and reflected in Schedule 2 provisions) are that visitors to Australia must:
- genuinely intend only to visit Australia temporarily
- not work unlawfully
- not engage in studies or training for more than 3 months – for policy and procedure, refer to Condition 8201 – 3 month limit on studying or training
- have, or have access to, adequate means to support themselves during the period of the visit so that they do not need to access Australia’s social welfare system and
- leave Australia on or before the date their visa ceases, unless they make a valid application to stay for a longer period to the benefit of Australia (for example, apply for a Student or 457 visa in a highly skilled occupation).
Visitors to Australia must not remain in Australia on an ongoing basis on visitor visas. This is particularly the case if there is a more appropriate visa option available. In addition visitors to Australia must not use temporary stay arrangements to circumvent migration laws.
However, officers should take a fair and reasonable approach within the framework provided by the legislation if a person’s circumstances have changed in Australia, other visa options are unavailable and compelling and compassionate circumstances exist.
Genuine temporary stay
As per regulation 600.211 and the overarching visitor visa principles outlined in Principles, it is a criterion for all FA-600 streams that the applicant ‘genuinely intend’ to stay temporarily in Australia for the purpose for which the visa is granted.
Officers must consider three matters:
- whether the applicant has complied substantially with the conditions to which the last substantive visa, or any subsequent bridging visa, held by the applicant was subject – refer to Previous visa compliance
- whether the applicant intends to comply with the conditions to which the FA-600 visa would be subject – refer to Intention to comply
- any other relevant matter – refer to The ‘any other matter’ factor.
Assessing the genuine temporary stay requirement
Previous visa compliance
In establishing whether 600.211(a) is satisfied, relevant considerations about the applicant’s visa compliance history may include, but are not limited to:
- has the applicant previously travelled to Australia
and if so,
- did they comply with the conditions of their last visa (or if not, were the circumstances beyond their control) and
- did the applicant leave before their visa ceased.
Intention to comply
In establishing whether 600.211(b) is satisfied, relevant considerations about the applicant’s intention to comply with conditions of the FA-600 visa may include, but are not limited to:
- is there any evidence to suggest that the applicant may work during their stay (contrary to conditions 8101 and 8115)
- if the applicant has requested a long stay period, what will they do during that time and how will they support themselves without working in Australia and
- is there any evidence to suggest that the applicant intends to study more than three months (contrary to 8201).
(Note: About FA-600 visa conditions outlines the conditions for each stream of the FA-600 visa.)
The ‘any other matter’ factor
Some relevant considerations
In establishing whether 600.211(c) is satisfied, relevant considerations of any other matter may include, but are not limited to:
- Personal circumstances
- Purpose and period of stay
- Previous immigration/travel history
- Intel reports and profile.
- the personal circumstances of the applicant that would encourage them to return to their home country (country of usual residence) at the end of the proposed visit, such as:
- ongoing employment
- the presence of close family members in their home country – that is, does the applicant have more close family members living in their home country than in Australia
- property, or other significant assets, owned in their home country and
- whether the applicant is currently residing in a country whose nationals represent a low risk of immigration non-compliance, even if the applicant is originally from a country whose nationals represent a statistically higher risk of non-compliance
- the personal circumstances of the applicant in their home country or general conditions in the home country that might encourage them to remain in Australia, such as:
- economic circumstances – including unemployment or employment that, based on knowledge of local employment conditions (such as salary rates) would not constitute a strong incentive for the applicant to leave Australia
- economic disruption, including shortages, famine, or high levels of unemployment, or natural disasters in the applicant’s home country.
- the applicant’s personal ties to Australia, that is:
- does the applicant have more close family members living in Australia than in their home country
- is the applicant subject of adoption proceedings that have not been resolved in their home country
- military service commitments
- civil disruption, including war, lawlessness or political upheaval in the applicant’s home country.
Note: If refusing a visitor visa in relation to the genuine temporary stay criterion, s65 delegates must take care not to confuse the applicant’s financial circumstances as an incentive to return and the applicant’s access to ‘adequate means of support’. They are separate factors and so must be considered separately.
The applicant’s credibility in terms of character and conduct (for example, false and misleading information provided with visa application).
Purpose and period of stay
Whether the purpose and proposed duration of the applicant’s visit and their proposed activities in Australia are reasonable and consistent (for example, is the period of stay consistent with “tourism”).
Previous immigration/travel history
Previous immigration and travel history, such as:
- previous visa applications for Australia
- previous overseas travel, that is, has the applicant travelled to countries other than Australia.
In assessing this factor, officers may give weight to applicants who had travelled to and complied with the immigration laws of a country(ies) that has significant incentives for the applicant to remain in that country(ies), either for economic or personal reasons. However, officers may have to use judicious discretion if there is a lack of travel history.
Requesting further information
If consideration of the 600.211 criteria raises doubts about the applicant’s ability to meet the genuine temporary stay requirement, such as where the applicant’s circumstances may suggest the need for greater scrutiny, officers may consider or request additional evidence that demonstrates that the applicant intends a genuine temporary stay.
- Additional evidence that officers may wish to consider in deciding whether an applicant intends a genuine temporary stay includes the following:
- Evidence that the applicant has been employed for at least the previous 12 months, has approved leave for the period of stay sought and will continue to be employed on their return home or
- If self-employed, evidence they have owned their own business for the previous 12 months.
- If retired/non-working have other financial commitments and/or family/social ties that would provide sufficient inducement for them to return to their home country at the end of their visit.
- good immigration history.
Support/guarantees by Australian connections
Generally, offers of support or guarantees given by family and friends in Australia are not sufficient evidence of a genuine temporary stay. The onus is on the applicant to satisfy the delegate that the applicant intends only to stay temporarily in Australia. Guarantees from connections in Australia can, however, be critical in assessing whether an applicant has access to adequate means of support.