Filipinos can easily apply for an Australian Tourist Visa online and be approved in a matter of 5 working days (based on our experience), at least after we have completed submitting all the required scanned documents.
We are a family of 3 with a 10 year old boy, and currently staying in Singapore. We also lodge our Australian tourist visa application (visitor visa subclass 600) online while here in SG through www.border.gov.au. Fortunately, our application was approved within 5 working days.
Visitor Visa (Subclass 600) approved applicants are granted 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months multiple entries. In our case, each of us was granted multiple entries in Australia for 1 year from October 2016 to October 2017, and each arrival enables us to stay for period of 1 month. The process is probably the same even when you are in the Philippines since the application can be done online or through VFS Global (www.vfsglobal.com/australia/philippines/how_to_apply.html).
What I am going to share here is our experience in applying online for Australian tourist visa, application cost per head, prepared scanned documents, 9D8N sample itinerary, the budget airline company where we bought our tickets, hotel where we stayed for 9 days and 8 nights, and the step-by-step application process.
Aside from aforementioned, I will also share here some cost saving tips which we have utilized during our tour around Sydney, Blue Mountains, and other cities in Australia. Hopefully, this post would help lessen the stress (if there is any) which you might encounter during your application.
Application Fees (Cost per Person)
The cost per application per applicant is 135AUD plus surcharge or roughly PHP 5033 plus surcharge. Payments are made after you have completed filling up all the needed information. You can pay using credit / debit card online.
Australian Tourist Visa Online Application Process for Filipinos
1. Create an ImmiAccount at https://online.immi.gov.au/lusc/login. Supply the needed information such as surname, given name, phone numbers, and email address. Check your email for the confirmation.
2. Login to your ImmiAccount with your username and password that you have given when you created your immi account.
3. Go to the New Application link to start with your application process. Supply all the information as honest and as complete as possible. You personal details should be entered the same way as they appeared on your passport.
4. After you have supplied all the needed information. Upload all the needed documents (supporting evidences).
Each Applicant’s Needed Documents (Scanned copy in JPG format)
– Old and new passport which shows previous travel
– Cover letter and sample itinerary
– NSO Birth certificate
– Evidence of funds (personal bank statements / savings account, payslip, credit / debit card statements)
– Marriage Certificate (if married)
– Certification Letter from school for your son / daughter (if they are studying)
– Certificate of Employment (if employed)
You can read the complete checklist here http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/600-/Visitor-visa-(subclass-600)-Tourist-Stream-document-checklist.
5. For Filipinos staying in SG you can schedule an appointment at VFS Global for your biometrics collection. Take note that VFS Global collects service fee.
For those who are applying for Australian tourist visa while in the Phippines, they should inquire to VFS Global if they need to schedule appoint for biometrics collection. Here is their website http://www.vfsglobal.com/australia/philippines/.
6. Check your email regularly for the update on your Australian tourist visa application. I think the supplied documents are being screened manually by a representative from Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Australian High Commission. I got contacted by their representative twice thru email because they are asking for additional scanned documents which I have to upload on my application
After uploading the additional documents, all you have to do next is wait. If the Visa application is lodged outside Australia the maximum processing time is 1 month from the time you completed your application and paid the needed fees.
Suggested Budget Airline Company
We booked a return flight from Scoot Airlines here in SG. It costs us around 1600SGD for 3 passengers. We were able to avail a promo during our booking time.
Arriving in Australia
Assuming Australia immigration has granted you Visa, and you have arrived at Sydney (Kingsford Smith) International Airport. The first thing you need to do is purchase an OPAL card at the news agency inside the airport. There are two types of opal card: for adult, and for child. The card is similar to EZ-link in Singapore, and LRT-MRT Beep Card in the Metro Manila, Philippines.
It will be used to pay all kinds of transportation available in Australia such as bus, train, tram, and ferry. Asked the staff at the news agency, they know how much should be topped-up depending on your duration of stay in AUS. Since we stayed in Sydney for 9 days and 8 nights, we topped-up 40AUD per adult, and 20AUD for kid.
From Sydney Airport, you can ride train to reach the central business district (CBD) area and you can use your OPAL card to pay for the fare. Although I suggest that you ride taxi for comportability since for sure, you have heavy luggages with you. During our time the taxi rate is around 50 Australian dollars from international airport to CBD. From domestic airport, the cost is around 36 Australian dollars.
Affordable Prepaid Sim Card with Data Bundle
If you want to stay connected online even when you are on tour, the second thing you need to purchase is a prepaid SIM card with data bundle. During our visit, I purchased an Optus Yes prepaid SIM card for 30AUD. In my opinion it offers the cheapest because I was able to avail their promo of unlimited local text, local calls, and 6GB data which has 28 days expiry. It is much cheaper if compared to data roaming charges which is usually on pay-per-use terms.
Recommended Hotel in Sydney, Australia
If you will be staying in Sydney, you can check out Cambridge Hotel / Hotel Abey in Surry Hills. We stayed in Abey Hotel for 5 nights, and 3 nights in Cambridge Hotel. I can say that we were satisfied with our stay in both hotels. Our room was clean, although, they should have better soundproofing in between rooms because sometimes we can hear guests’ conversation from rooms next to ours.
The location is OK for us since a bus stop is probably 2 minutes walk and the central train station is 10 minutes walk from the hotel. I recommended that you booked a room through agoda.com for cheaper rates.
Foreign Exchange Suggestion
Based on our experience, we suggest that you do not change your currency in stalls inside Sydney airport, because I think it is not value for your money. Aside from the exchange rate when you buy Australian dollar, they also charge you with service fee which range from 8 to 12AUD per transaction. As much as possible change your currency from the airport where you are coming from.
Sample Itinerary for 9 Days and 8 Nights
Day 1: Arrive in Sydney from Singapore
Day 2: Start the day with a complimentary breakfast in the hotel. Visit Darling Harbour, Wild Life Sydney Zoo, and Sea Life Aquarium
Day 3: Aboard Hop-on Hop-off Captain Cook Cruise, for sight seeing of Manly Bay, Watson Bay, Fort Denison and alight at Taronga Park Zoo stop. Spend the entire day at the Taronga Zoo. Visit the Royal Botanic Garden before going back to the hotel.
Day 4-5: Explore Sydney City and Bondi by Hop –on and Hop – off Bus Tour
Day 6: Join the Blue Mountains and Wildlife day tour.
Day 7: Attend mass in the morning. Join the tour group to explore the Sydney Opera House. Go to the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Tower.
Day 8: Hunter Valley day tour
Day 9: Departure from Sydney
Purchase an I-Venture Card (Optional)
If you plan to try every attraction in Sydney, or in other cities, I suggest that you purchase an I-Venture card.
The card allows you to enjoy single entry to all of Sydney’s top attractions. It offers up to 40% savings on entry fees to tours (like Sydney sightseeing tour, Blue Mountains explorer bus), guided walks (The Rocks Walking Tour), museums, cruises (like Captain Cook Hop-on Hop-off) and wildlife attractions (Sydney Sea Life Aquarium), Sydney Opera House Tour, and much more.