Disclaimer: this is what happened with/for us, at the time that we made our visa application. Everything and anything could have changed between when this happened, and when you are reading this.
There are lots of different options when it comes to getting a visa for Australia, and all of the information regarding each type of visa is on the Australian Department of Home Affairs Website. As UK citizens, we can visit Australia for up to three months at a time with a free e-visa, however as we planned to spend longer than three months there, this was not suitable for us.
We applied for a Visitor visa (subclass 600) which could allow us to stay in Australia for up to 12 months. This is a tourism only visa, so you cannot work in Australia on this visa. The Visitor visa costs $145 AUD plus a $1.10 AUD processing fee. The application form was online. As always, it was pretty lengthy, but not overly complicated. You have to upload a copy of your passport. You can also provide additional documents to support your case such as bank account statements to prove you have enough money to fund your time in Australia – we intended to do this, but our visas were approved before we got around to uploading the documents. It also asks for the details (full name, address, date of birth, residency status) of people you are planning to visit whilst in Australia.
Less than 24 hours after we had applied, we were sent an email requesting that we must undergo a medical examination. The guidance before applying had implied that we wouldn’t need this, as neither of us are over 75 and do not come from a high-risk tuberculosis country, so we hadn’t expected to get this request. However, another couple we know had applied for the same visa about a week before we had, and had received the same request. We applied at the end of February 2020, right in the midst of Coronavirus panic, so perhaps Australia were just requesting more medical examinations than usual because of this.
The medical examination (including a chest x-ray) had to be undertaken at an approved hospital (you can see the list here). We were in Thailand at the time, and thought this may make it difficult, however it didn’t. From the list, there were several options in Bangkok. As the IOM Migration Health Assessment Centre had all of the prices for an Australian visa medical exam clearly stated on their website, we booked appointments with them for the following day.
The following day we travelled to Bangkok for our medical exams. The IOM centre was great – everything was done efficiently, almost all of the staff spoke very good English, they knew what they were doing, and (amazingly for South East Asia) it actually took the time they told us it would take (2-3 hours). The service we received was just as good as I would have expected at home, but rather than paying hundreds of pounds, and having to wait a few weeks for an appointment, we spent £87 each and got an appointment with less than 24 hours notice.
The IOM centre sent our medical results back to the Australian immigration people, and three working days later (one week after submitting our applications) we received emails confirming that we both were approved for 12 month visas. The visas were valid for one year from the day of approval, allowing multiple entries, and stays of up to 12 months from the date of each arrival.