Australia is known for its diverse landscapes, cultural attractions, and friendly people, making it a popular destination for tourists from around the world. However, before booking your tickets and packing your bags, you might first want to check out the reports of Australian visa discrimination against non-Western tourists, particularly visitors from Asia, Africa, East Europe and the Middle East.
In this article, we’ll explain how prospective non-Western tourists are treated by the Australian Department of Home Affairs, and the ways in which this racial discrimination is carried out.
What Types of Visa are Available?
There are three different visa types available for travelers to Australia. The visa you need to apply for depends on the length of your stay, your nationality, and the purpose of your visit. In most cases you’ll also need to meet certain financial and medical requirements, be outside of Australia when applying, and maintain health insurance for the duration of your stay.
The 3 Australian visa types are as follows:
- eVisitor (subclass 651) – For Europeans & the European Union
- Electronic Travel Authority visa (subclass 601) – ‘Western Alliance’ countries
- Visitor Visa (subclass 600) – For everyone else
eVisitor – For Europeans & the European Union
The subclass 651 eVisitor visa allows multiple visits to Australia for tourism or business purposes for up to three months at a time within a 12-month period. The eVisitor visa is available to passport holders from 36 European countries and it cannot be extended.
This visa is available for the following countries:
Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Republic of San Marino, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom (British Citizen), Vatican City
ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) – ‘Western Alliance’
The subclass 601 ETA visa allows you to visit Australia as many times as you want, for up to a year, and stay for three months each visit. This visa is also available for most of the eVisitor countries listed above, but is primarily targeted at the following additional countries:
Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, United States of America
Visitor Visa (subclass 600) – For (…everyone?) Else
If granted, the subclass 600 Visitor Visa allows you to visit Australia, either for tourism or business purposes. Generally, a period of stay of up to three months is granted, but up to 12 months may be granted in certain circumstances. Applicants have to pay a fee to submit their application.
Broadly speaking, although most nationalities not covered by the eVisitor and ETA visa *may* be eligible to apply for a subclass 600 Visitor Visa, this visa mainly targets the following countries:
China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Israel, Mexico, Panama, Philippines, Qatar, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates
Do the math, and you’ll discover that the countries covered specifically by this Visitor Visa represent a combined population of approximately 4 billion people… more than half the population of the world.
But if you apply for this visa as a national of one of these countries, you’ll discover an expensive and intricate web of complexity designed to deter all but the most determined of applicants.
Visa’s for Non-Westerners?
If you are a national of a non-Western country – for example China or India (the 2 largest populations in the world), applying for an Australian visa involves a disproportional amount of red tape. You’ll need to start the visa application process months ahead of time, and be prepared to pay much more than your Western counterparts – even before your application is reviewed.
The Australian Department of Home Affairs have put in place a series of costly and time-consuming requirements that clearly discriminate against non-western nationals.
Australia – Land of the Free?
160 years ago the majority of arrivals to Australia were convicted felons transported there for hard labour. Since independence, their great grand children are a little more precious about the visitors they choose to accept.
To improve the experiences of non-Western tourists in Australia, the government needs to invest in equitable immigration policies and procedures, cultural sensitivity training and education, and better access to information and resources. By addressing these concerns, Australia can become a more welcoming and inclusive destination for tourists from all backgrounds.
Tit-for-Tat Visa Policies?
One of the main issues is the biased immigration policies and procedures of the Australian Department of Home Affairs. Applicants report facing longer wait times, more intrusive questioning, and increased scrutiny of their visa applications compared to Western tourists. Such unequal treatment of applicants – based on their nationality and race – is not only a major barrier to tourism, it is a violation of their human rights.
It’s time for the governments of these non-western countries – specifically China, India, Indonesia and Russia – to reciprocate by applying similar restrictions to Australian visitors who currently enjoy simple visa processes for these countries, as well as lower travel and vacation costs.
Australian Visa Scams to Avoid
The discriminatory Australian visa process isn’t the only headache you have to deal with if you’re applying for an Australian visa. Many people use online visa processing companies to try to simplify their applications…
The most prominent of these companies – iVisa – will scam you out of your money – before you even leave home.
Due to this company’s ubiquitous presence on Google, iVisa has become the default choice for many travelers. But this company’s pre-paid SEO for high Google rankings doesn’t equate to professional integrity. As of January 2023 alone, there are multiple reports of scams and unethical business practices from customers who have used iVisa’s services.
For more information on this, refer to our companion article, Beware of Scams: Uncovering the Ugly Truth Behind iVisa’s Business Practices.
What ʿNon-Westernʾ Nationals Can Expect
If Australia classifies your application under the Visitor Visa (subclass 600) – as it does with over half the people of the world – what kind of treatment can you expect from the Australian Department of Home Affairs?
Proof of Travel Reservations
Firstly, you’ll have to provide them with an extensive list of personal and financial information, as well as a detailed travel plan. They also require copies of your plane ticket reservations and hotel reservations.
So you are expected to purchase these reservations before you even know when (or if) your visa application will be approved.
For subclass 600 applications, you are required to provide personal identifiers in the form of fingerprint scans and/or a digital photograph of your face and shoulders. You need to acquire the personal identifiers by attending an officially-recognized Biometrics Collection Centre within 14 days of receiving the notification letter.
The only fingerprint scans and facial photographs that will be accepted are those taken by staff at a Biometrics Collection Centre that is recognized by the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
You need to attend a Biometrics Collection Centre in person. If there is no Biometrics Collection Centre in your country, you need to travel to another country to find one. You have 14 days to do this and return the information, otherwise your visa application is automatically refused
Can my application get rejected after supplying biometrics data?
Yes. Biometrics is just a beginning of your visa application process. Your visa can be rejected or approved without explanation. Even after supplying this data, the Australian Dept of Home Affairs clearly states that:
“The provision of personal identifiers is only one of several stages in the visa assessment process”.
… so there is still no assurance of receiving a visa. Check online and you’ll find plenty of people who report their applications were rejected without explanation.
Medical Examination and Chest X-ray
You will also need to undertake a medical examinations and chest x-ray at a medical facility that is approved by the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
They clearly consider that people residing in any of these non-western countries carry tuberculosis.
How Long will the Visa Process take?
If you have gotten this far and supplied all of this information, according to the Department of Home Affairs website, the processing time for your visa is:
- 25% of applications: 8 Days
- 50% of applications: 16 Days
- 75% of applications: 33 Days
- 90% of applications: 85 Days
OK, so that makes… 240% (??) If the above figures make any sense to you, you must have studied mathematics Down Under.
How Much will it Cost?
According to the Department of Home Affairs website, the cost of processing your visa will be (at least) AUD 380. Of course, this doesn’t include the cost of your medical exam, your chest X-ray, the Biometrics Collection Centre fees, and your airline and hotel reservations.
Australian Visa Discrimination – Summary
Taking into account the amount of information and the number of documents they are required to supply, it is apparent that the Australian Dept of Home Affairs does not wish to grant visas to non-western visitors. To this aim, they have put in place a series of costly and time-consuming requirements that are sure to deter all but the most desperate of applicants.
For example, the actual cost of a simple 10-day visitors visa to Australia for a Russian passport holder is as follows:
- Visa application cost – At least AUD 380
- Biometric data – At least AUD 100
- Cost to travel to a Biometrics Collection Centre – At least AUD 500
- Medical Exam – AUD 77
- Chest X-Ray – AUD 230
- Total: AUD 1,287
That’s equivalent to around USD 870… and this doesn’t include your plane and hotel reservations.
… and the time needed to complete a visa application? (assuming you’re accepted)
So, if you don’t belong to that part of the world’s population that calls itself ‘Western’
– and you still think it’s worthwhile chancing hundreds of dollars for the possibility of visiting ‘God’s own country’ –
… then you need your head examining, cobber!
If you’re also hacked off by Australian Visa Discrimination Against ʿNon-Westernʾ Tourists, take a look at our other Tropical Travel Plans. You may also like: