Three months in Australia is never enough. You can extend your Visitor visa while staying in Australia – so that you don’t have to leave.
This article explains:
- when you can extend your Visitor visa;
- documents required to extend your Visitor visa;
- how long you can extend your Visitor visa for;
- the minefield that visa extensions can be for pregnant women;
- how many times you can extend a Visitor visa; and
- key considerations when extending your Visitor visa in Australia.
Why extend a Visitor visa in Australia?
Most visitor visas to Australia last for three months. Even if you are lucky enough to get a multiple entry visa for a year – each stay is still only three months.
So, at the end of your three months you need to decide. Will you leave Australia or will you extend your Visitor visa.
Many visitors to Australia, especially couples, want to lodge a Partner visa while they are here. If you are not married then you need at least six months living together before you can lodge a de facto visa.
So if your Visitor visa only gives you three months, you might want to consider extending it so that you meet the de facto visa requirements.
If you have a multiple entry visa, leaving Australia and coming back can be expensive. Not to mention the time spent on the airplane is just wasted.
Instead of jumping on a plane you can extend your Visitor visa while you remain in Australia. This will save you time and money.
When to Extend your Visitor Visa
It is illegal to let your visa expire, so you always need to make sure you have plenty of time to make your new visa arrangements.
If your Visitor visa lasts for three months and you want to extend it. Start to make your extension with around 6 weeks left. This way you have plenty of time to do things.
When you lodge an application to extend your Visitor visa in Australia, you get a Bridging visa that lets you stay – while Immigration make their decision.
During the processing of your Visitor visa extension, you will be asked to undergo Health Checks. You are normally given 28 days to get the health check organised.
If you miss the 28-day deadline for the health check your application to extend your Visitor visa will be refused immediately.
Documents Required for a Visitor Visa Extension
The documents needed to extend your Visitor visa come in two categories: 1) documents you already submitted for your first Visitor visa; and 2) new documents.
Documents from your Original Visitor Visa Application
You will need access to all the original documents. This is because the first visa application would have been decided in your home country. Then your application to extend will be decided in Australia.
So they are decided by two different departments of Immigration. There is no way for you to ask them to use the old documents. You have to supply it all again.
New Documents to Extend your Visitor Visa
You may also be required to show new docuemnts including new bank statements, proof of your employment in your home country and evidence of the purpose of the extended stay you are requesting.
For example, if you are requesting to stay another four months to attend a wedding – you will need to show proof that this reason is real. So, a wedding invitation would be required at teh very least.
You will also need to organise health checks as already mentioned above.
Finally, you can be asked for more information about your stay in Australia. This is typically done in the form of a questionnaire that immigration sends.
The questionnaire asks what you have been doing in Australia, whether you have been working and what your plans are.
How Long the Extension Lasts
First, you cannot stay on a Visitor visa for more than 12 months. This is the most important consideration.
Then there are quite a few considerations as to how long your extension will last:
- how long you have already been in Australia;
- the purpose of your extension- are you really still a visitor; and
- your immigration history.
Start by considering how long you have already been in Australia. You will be limited overall by the 12-month maximum.
You should also consider previous visits to Australia. The Department has a policy of no more than a year in Australia, in an 18-month period. This applies to the temporary visas like the visitor visa.
Next, the purpose of your stay is considered. If you are using the visitor visa to stay with your partner in Australia then an application to extend can be risky.
Immigration may think that you are using a Visitor visa to live in Australia with your partner, and this is reason to refuse your Visitor visa extension.
Finally, if immigration has refused your visa before, applications to extend can be risky. Again, it becomes more and more difficult to show your case is genuine after you receive a refusal.
Extend your Pregnant girlfriend’s Visitor Visa
If you are pregnant and you want to extend the Visitor visa you will run into many problems that can put the whole plan at risk:
- pregnant women cannot do the health check;
- the 12-month rule means that after giving birth she has no visa
- schedule three requirements mean that she will have to leave Australia to lodge a Partner visa.
A health check is mandatory when you apply to extend your pregnant girlfriend’s Visitor visa. This is a real problem. A problem that you do not have the experience to navigate. I can assure you of this.
Here’s the kicker. Your pregnant girlfriend cannot do a health check when she is pregnant. The health check involves an x-ray which can affect the unborn baby. You need the help of a lawyer with experience in this scenario. A lawyer can negotiate with immigration to delay the health check until after the birth.
Health Check for pregnant Girlfriend after giving Birth
If you delay the health check until after your pregnant girlfriend gives birth. Your problems have only just begun.
The visitor visa can only last for a total stay of twelve months.
Remember, for the last nine months, at least, your girlfriend has been pregnant. Waiting for her visitor visa extension. She has held a Bridging visa allowing her to remain in Australia.
By the time Immigration approve her visitor visa, there is no time left. So they will send you a request to either withdraw it or have it refused.
Your best option is to withdraw because then your girlfriend’s visa history is not tainted. However, now there is a new problem.
So, you want to apply for a partner visa after the birth of your child. So that your wife can stay in Australia. And so that you can keep your child here.
Schedule three requires a Partner visa applicant in Australia to hold a visa when they apply.
In other words, you cannot apply for a Partner visa in Australia if you don’t have a visa.
The problem is that your pregnant girlfriend, after her wait for the x-ray, will not have a visa. A bridging visa does not count and that what she has.
So, you are not eligible to apply for the partner visa. So, what do you do? Contact our lawyer if any of this applies to you as it is an absolute minefield.
You need a lawyer who has experience in these matters. I am writing this article and highlighting all these potential downfalls. Because I have seen it all happen before.
I can tell you that this happens to people. They get stuck on schedule three and their life together is all but over.
Its not fair but it is the way the law currently stands in Australia – so don’t become a victim.
I can help you negotiate the pitfalls and keep your pregnant girlfriend in Australia.
How Many Times can I Extend?
You can keep applying to extend your Visitor visa to a maximum stay if 12 months.
The first application to extend is relatively inexpensive. The application fee is around $360 and most Agents, including OzVisa Group will process the application for you for around $400 – $500.
If it is cheaper than this – you should beware. Possibly the Agent has not go the required experience to process your extension – as you will find out as the process goes on.
The second time you go to extend a temporary visa, like a Visitor visa, you will get hit with an extra charge from Immigration. Currently its around $700 more. This is nothing more than a money grab by immigration.
The reasons put forward by the Department for the extra charge are that they want discourage people from reapplying in Australia. But this excuse holds no weight because they make the decisions and could simply refuse the application if this reason was real.
The Most Important Considerations
There is one point I want to emphasize – if your girlfriend is pregnant then you must hire a lawyer.
We have written a separate blog about having your baby in Australia. But this information does not substitute for a lawyer with specific experience in this area. It is very complex.