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Australia is a place that not only offers a wide range of different holiday types but also an equally varied climate; while the north is hot and tropical, the south tends to be more temperate. If you are planning to travel to Australia, in order to make the most of this huge variety it is important to make sure that you have the right Australian visa.

Whatever your reasons for travelling to Australia you will need a visa to gain entry into the country. There are options available to tourists, the two most common being ETA (visitor) and eVisitors visas.

There can be some confusion as to the differences between these two types of visa. This is an area of uncertainty that this article aims to address; however, before examining the differences between these visas it is necessary to highlight their similarities.

Both the ETA (visitor) and eVisitors visas allow entry into Australia for up to three months. Both visa types are also applied for electronically and you can only complete this application if you are outside Australia.

If your application is successful then these visas do not entitle you to work while in Australia, although limited volunteer work may be permitted. In this case, volunteer work is taken to mean work for which you are not paid, and is not the main focus of your holiday. It is also important to remember that this work cannot be something which an Australian citizen could otherwise be doing in return for wages.

With these two types of visa you are allowed to study or engage in training; this of course cannot last longer than three months. Both these visas are also unavailable for those with criminal convictions for which the sentence is 12 months or longer.

It is these similarities which lead to the confusion surrounding these two types of visa. In order to clear this up, it is important to highlight the key difference between the visas. Essentially, an eVisitors visa is only available to those travelling from the European Union, or a number of other select European countries; it is also free of charge. The ETA (Visitor) visa, on the other hand, carries an application charge of AUD $20.

So, to reiterate, if you are applying for a visa yourself online and you are from the European Union, you need to search for the eVisitors visa. To add slightly to the confusion, even if you are from the EU you may end up with an ETA visa, if you application is being processed by a travel agent, airline, specialist service provider, or Australian visa office outside Australia.

The next type of visa that travellers need to be aware of is the tourist visa. This visa is suitable for those who want to stay in Australia for up to 12 months for tourism or recreation purposes. It also allows multiple entries into Australia during the period in which it is valid. As with the two other visa types already mentioned, you cannot work while in the country, other than the limited volunteer work stated above, and you cannot engage in study or training for longer than a three month period.

Although it is perfectly acceptable to apply for this visa before travelling to Australia, many travellers apply once they are in the country, in order to extend their stay for longer than the three months permitted on the eVisitors or ETA (Visitor) visas. If you are planning to do this you must remember to apply for your tourist visa well in advance of the expiry date of your existing short term visa.

A tourist visa does carry a cost, AUD $105, which is not refundable should your application be unsuccessful. There are also a number of factors to consider regarding eligibility for this visa.

Firstly, you must genuinely be planning a holiday in Australia and not attempting to visit the country for any purposes other than tourism, recreation or seeing family and friends. If you apply while outside the country, you must still be outside when the decision is made, and the same applies if you are in Australia when applying; you must be in the country when the Department of Immigration and Citizenship makes its decision.

Another consideration to bear in mind is that you may be asked to prove that you have enough funds to cover the cost of your stay. You may also be asked to provide police certificates for each country you have lived in for 12 months or longer over the last 10 years.

As with all the above visa types, if you are travelling with children under the age of 18 and they are not included on your passport then you will have to complete a separate application for them. Additionally, if they are travelling alone or with only one parent or legal guardian, you will have to provide written consent from the non-accompanying parent(s) or guardian(s).

There are a number of ways to apply for a tourist visa. You can lodge your application in person, at your nearest Australian Immigration Office, the location of which can be found online. You can also apply online or by post. It is worth remembering to check carefully which forms are required as any inaccuracies, mistakes or missed forms will result in delays to your application.

In addition to these tourist visas there are a number of other Australian visas available for those who wish to travel to the country for other purposes. These include work, student, retirement and business or employer sponsored visas.

It is important to remember that none of the above options are suitable for those wishing to immigrate to Australia. There a number of ways in which people can migrate permanently to the country, and if you are planning to do this it is worth investigating the issue thoroughly; a good place to start is the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website.

So, if you are thinking of visiting Australia, hopefully now you can ensure that you apply for the correct type of visa and have a trouble-free stay.

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