What is a Visitor Visa?

A visitor visa is designed for applicants who are seeking to visit family and friends in Australia, for tourism purposes, or to engage in certain business activities. One of the most important aspects of qualifying for a visitor visa is the need to demonstrate that you have a genuine intention to stay temporarily in Australia for the purpose for which the visa is granted. This is called the Genuine Temporary Stay (GTS) requirement.

Failing to meet the GTS criterion is also one of the most common visitor visa rejection reasons. Having an Australian visitor visa refusal is not just personally distressing for many people, but it can also make things more complicated for visa applications that you apply for going forward, making what is already a complex process even harder.

It is therefore vital to have a good understanding of all visitor visa requirements, including what the GTS criteria entails and how it applies to your own personal situation, before you apply for a visitor visa. Taking these steps will help you to maximise your chances of a successful result.

Key to meeting the GTE requirement is ensuring that you provide strong documentary evidence in support of your claims. A migration professional like PAX Migration Australia can help by equipping you with the information you need to prepare an application to the highest standard.  Contact us to book a no-obligation consultation today.

How does the Department determine whether you meet the GTS requirement?

In assessing whether you meet this criterion, the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) will consider the following three factors:

Your previous visa compliance record

Here the Department will look at:

  • whether you have previously travelled to Australia and, if so, if you complied substantially with the conditions of your last substantive visa, or any subsequent bridging visa;
  • If you did not comply, whether this was due to circumstances beyond your control; and
  • whether you left Australia before your visa term ended?

A substantive visa is any visa excluding a bridging visa, criminal justice or enforcement visa.


A bridging visa is a temporary visa which allows you to lawfully remain in Australia whilst your immigration status is decided.



Your intention to comply with visitor visa conditions

The Department will also assess whether you intend to abide by the conditions to which you would be subject as a visitor visa holder by considering factors such as:

  • whether evidence suggests you may work in Australia;
  • if you request a long stay period, how you intend to spend your time in Australia and support yourself without working (visitor visa holders are subject to a no work condition); and
  • whether there is any evidence to indicate that you intend to study for more than three months.

Any other relevant matter

In assessing this third criterion as part of the GTE requirement, the Department is essentially unlimited in scope in what it may consider. According to immigration policy, factors it may look at in this regard include:

Your personal circumstances, which would encourage you to return to your home country (country of usual residence) at the end of your proposed visit to Australia, including whether you have:

  • ongoing employment in your home country;
  • close family members in your home country (as well as whether you have more close family members living in your home country than in Australia);
  • property or other significant assets that you own in your home country; and
  • whether you live in a country whose citizens represent a low risk of immigration non-compliance.

Your personal circumstances in your home country, or the general conditions there, which may encourage you to remain in Australia, including:

  • economic circumstances, such as unemployment, or poor employment conditions, including salary, which may encourage you to remain in Australia;
  • economic disruption, such as natural disasters or high unemployment in your home country;
  • your personal ties to Australia, including whether you have more family in Australia than in your home country;
  • whether you have military service commitments in your home country; and
  • civil disruption, including political instability, war and lawlessness in your home country.

Your credibility

  • This involves an assessment of your character and conduct, including whether you have provided false and misleading information with your visa application.

Your purpose and period of stay

  • The Department will consider whether your purpose in travelling to Australia, your proposed length of stay, and your proposed activities in Australia are reasonable and consistent. For example, is the length of your proposed visit to Australia consistent with tourism purposes?

Your previous immigration/travel history

  • The Department will look at your previous visa applications to Australia, as well as any overseas travel that you have undertaken.

Intel reports and profile

  • You may be requested by the Department to provide further information and/or evidence based on internal immigration information.

What type of evidence should you provide for the GTE requirement?

To give yourself the best chance of avoiding an Australian tourist visa refusal, gather documents to show that you intend to visit Australia as a temporary visitor only. This may include:

  • evidence that you have enough money for your stay, and for your departure from Australia, such as personal bank statements, pay slips, audited accounts, tax records or credit card limit;
  • a letter from your relative or friend in Australia, inviting you to visit. The letter should state:
  • their relationship to you;
  • the purpose of your visit and length of stay; and
  • if you will be staying with them (if this person will be paying for your stay, provide proof of their funds);
  • your plans whilst you are in Australia; and
  • evidence that you have reasons to return home, including:
  • a letter from your employer stating that you plan to return to your position;
  • enrolment in study at a school, college or university in your home country;
  • that you have immediate family members in your home country;
  • that you can return home; and
  • that you own a house or other major assets in your home country.

To conclude, it is important to point out that determining whether the GTE criterion is met is largely a discretionary decision made by the Department (i.e. it is not black and white, such as, for example, the Migration Points Test, which applies to skilled visas and which involves a simple numerical result). The GTE requirement is based on several factors which are all taken together to decide whether it is satisfied by an applicant. This is why it is so important to gather as much strong supporting evidence as you can, as this will help you to build a persuasive argument in your favour, and therefore lessen the chances of a visitor visa refusal.

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