Applying for any travel visa can be intimidating. I have known many people who withheld their travel plans just because they’re scared they’d get denied.
Applying for a visa will require time and effort; from the preparation of your requirements, paying necessary fees, going to the embassy or to any Visa Application Centre (VAC) for appearance, to waiting for your results. And it gets pretty nerve-racking. I know the feeling, especially when I applied for my Australian visa.
I’m going to share with you my experience in getting my first ‘big’ visa. I considered Australia as one of the tough countries to get a visa. It made me even anxious thinking that I haven’t traveled ‘enough’ to other countries which required a visa except China.
It happened quite fast. My friends and I had the bravest souls for booking plane tickets ahead and registering for a conference with the uncertainty of having a visa (You can read more about it here: DAY 3,4,5,6,7… Hillsong Conference!). And since we got those reservations ready, we just did what we were supposed to do, apply for a visa.
So here’s what I/we did…
Disclaimer: I am not a representative of the Australian Embassy. I cannot guarantee your visa approval. I am merely sharing my experience.
We went to inquire at VFS Global, Australia’s VAC in Cebu, located at the 9th Floor, Keppel Building, Cebu Business Park, Cebu City. We could have called but we thought it was better to go there to avoid any miscommunication.
- KNOW WHAT TYPE OF VISA ARE YOU GETTING
Australia has specific categories, they call it ‘Visa Subclass‘. Before applying, you should decide the visa subclass where you will lodge your visa application.
We applied for the VISITOR VISA – Business Stream Subclass 600. It can get a bit confusing since there is also another VISITOR VISA – Tourist Stream Subclass 600. So what’s the difference of the two?
It’s basic. Business for any ‘business-related’ matters (NOT EMPLOYMENT RELATED) and Tourist for plain tourism purposes. Both visas are more or less the same when it comes to requirements and fees.
Some of my friends who already got an Australian Visa suggested that we get Business. Why? It’s because our main purpose of going to Australia was to attend a conference and it falls under the category (and it’s easier according to them, still not guaranteed tho).
- SECURE THE CHECKLIST AND THE APPLICATION FORM
Since we went to VFS Global, they already gave us the checklist for the Business Stream. You can also get a copy of the checklists here:
For the application form, you will have to get the specific form for your visa subclass. You can find the list of forms here:
As for our category, we printed and filled out Form 1415. Most visa application forms are printed into A4 size unless stated otherwise.
- READ THE CHECKLIST, PREPARE YOUR DOCUMENTS
What are the necessary documents needed?
- Accomplished visa application form
- Manager’s cheque
- Copy of Passport bio page, amendments, endorsements, visa’s and entry/exit stamps
- Passport size photo attached to the front of the application form; size 35mm to 40mm width, 45mm to 50mm length
- Financial documents (I’ll elaborate more…)
- Other supporting documents (I’ll elaborate more…)
- FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS
I believe most visa applicants are very eager to know about this crucial ‘requirement’. The Australian Embassy actually has a list of options to prove your financial capacity.
What I find calming is that you need not provide all on the list but you can add what you think is necessary. When we first inquired at the VFS, one of their staff advised to ‘add’ more documents which we think is necessary to prove our ties to the Philippines even if it wasn’t on the list of requirements.
So here’s the list of financial documents you can submit based on the checklist:
- Copies of your bank deposit books showing your history of savings or salary
- Copies of bank statements or payslips over a period of time
- Credit card statements and limits
- Letter of support from Australian contact with the above evidence of financial capability (if applicable)
- Evidence of current employment or documents supporting business ownership
You can just choose either 1,2,3,4 + 5.
What I submitted as financial documents:
- Bank certificate (not on the list)
- Credit card statements and limits
- Affidavit of support from my father along with his bank statements, DTI, and business permit
- SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS
Like the financial documents, you also have an option here. You can either submit any of the following:
Evidence of your proposed business activities in Australia, such as:
- Invitation letter, including contact details of the inviter
- A letter of support from your company detailing your role in the visit
- Itinerary for the visit, with contact details of the parties involved
- Conference registration
Evidence that your business background is relevant to your stated business purpose for travel, for example:
- Details of your employment and current company position
- Details of previous business or contact with Australian or international organizations
- Evidence that your company is actively operating (such as business registration, shareholder’s certificate, annual reports, website address etc)
Just pick one or two from any of the 'evidence'
Well here, it says details of employment and current company position. FYI, I am employed but I did not submit my payslips nor my ITR as proof of my financial capacity to avoid any confusion since my father ‘guaranteed’ to support my trip.
What I submitted as my supporting documents:
- As proof of my employment: my Certificate of Employment and approved Leave of Absence letter
- Conference confirmation letter, Conference registration form, and program
- Daily itinerary in Australia
- Plane Itinerary
- Booked accommodations
- Travel insurance (only valid for the number of days I’m in Australia)
- NSO Birth Certificate
- And lastly, proof of home ownership
- PAY FOR THE MANAGER’S CHEQUE & OTHER FEES
If you don’t know what a Manager’s Cheque (MC) is, you can ask your bank about it. The Visa Fee is 5,300 PHP. Just secure the MC payable to “Australian Embassy”.
Other fees, amounting to 747.00 PHP, need to be in cash. This is for VAC charge per applicant and SMS charges.
- DOUBLE CHECK YOUR PAPERS, LODGE THE APPLICATION
We need not have to go to the Australian Embassy in Manila to lodge our application since VFS Global can accommodate this type of transaction. Just follow the necessary protocols inside the VAC. All bags need to be stored, only documents are allowed inside.
You will be given a number for queueing. Once you’re called, proceed to the window and submit all your papers, the accomplished application form (don’t forget to sign your application form), the checklist, the Manager’s Cheque, and cash.
You can choose to have your appointment scheduled or not. Need not to worry, there aren’t a lot of people at the VAC. You’ll be finished in no time. We went there around 1:30 PM and were finished within 40 minutes.
- WAIT FOR IT….
Now that you’ve lodged your application, you will be given a receipt and a paper containing steps on how to check your status. Your visa, if approved, will be sent to your e-mail address. Make sure that the e-mail address you placed on your form is working. They will also text you updates (e.g. your application has been received at the Embassy).
All you have to do is wait. Majority of those who got their Australian visa said results could take three to four weeks, some even take more than a month. Fortunately, I got the good news after a week! I did not expect it to be that fast.
You see, I was not able to provide all of the documents listed on the checklist but I added some documents which I think could strengthen my ties to my home country. What I did may not guarantee a sure approval, I’m just sharing my experience to encourage you that getting a visa and visiting your dream country is not impossible. You just have to make the first step, do it and you’ll see. If you get denied, don’t be upset, just try again.
If you want to know about my Australia Trip, check these links:
- DIY Trips: Sydney For Less Than 2000AUD
- Day 1: Sydney Landmarks with Jennica
- Day 2: Beach Hopping in Sydney
- DAY 3,4,5,6,7… Hillsong Conference!
For more information, visit the VFS Global website. I hope you get the visa you desire!