Australian High Commission
Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, eSwatini

Frequently Asked Quesitons


We receive a number of general enquiries through our mail box.  To assist our applicants we have listed the most Frequently Asked Questions below for your information.


I have pre-lodgement questions but do not know where to look for answers.
The Department does not provide specific advice or pre-lodgement counselling.  All pre-lodgement enquiries should be directed to one, or all, of the web page links listed below.

 VFS Global
Department of Home Affairs
Australian High Commission, Pretoria

These websites will require you to search for either your closest VFS Global location or to search for appropriate visa subclasses.  The sites contain all the information that you will need in order to make a valid application.  Please read all of the information carefully.  You should also be aware that in some cases there may not be a visa subclass that matches what you would like to do in Australia.  Lodging a “close enough” application will result in a refusal or a recommendation that you withdraw your application.

The immigration website has included the visa finder tool.  This page will ask you to select from a number of options or will ask a few questions to assist in suggesting the most appropriate subclass for your trip to Australia.  Each suggestion will provide a short summary of the visa subclass and invite you to read more information.  You are strongly advised to read all the options and read the information on each tab before you make a decision.

I need to get to Australia urgently on compassionate family illness or business grounds.
The Immigration Section will prioritise compassionate (for example death or illnesses) and compelling travel.  If you have an urgent medical need to travel to Australia due to family illness or a death, please use the ImmiAccount option to lodge an application and to also request a medical HAP number.  If you are entering a medical facility you will need to complete medical examinations with one of our panel doctors.

Once you have created your application please forward the reference number to this mail box with the subject heading “COMPASSIONATE – FAMILY ILLNESS”.  Please ensure that you provide your full contact details (including telephone number) in your email.

We understand that in some cases urgent business travel is arranged at the very last minute.  We will need proof that your intended business trip is of significant benefit to Australia in order to process your application before those already in the queue.

Please noteApplying late for your visa or having already bought plane tickets will not be considered compelling or compassionate.

How do I lodge an application?
Thank you for your enquiry relating to the lodgement process.  Below is a generic guide to the whole process.

  1. Make use of the Visa Finder on the immigration website.  This page will ask general questions about your intended trip to Australia and will then make recommendations on the most appropriate visa subclasses.  Please read each recommendation and all supporting information before you make your decision.
  2. Once you have identified the most appropriate subclass please check how and where that subclass should be lodged.  Some applications can only be lodged online or must be lodged at a specific regional office in Australia.
  3. To lodge an online application you will need to create an ImmiAccount and enter all required information on the form as well as upload all required supporting documentation.  This link will take you to the ImmiAccount section on our website -
  4. If you choose to lodge a paper application please read the information on the VFS Global  website.   VFS Global have been contracted as our lodgement agents in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. 
  5. Once you have lodged your application please do not contact us to follow up until after the global processing times for 90% of applications.  We do have a large number of applications to process, especially during peak seasons.  

How do I make a payment?
Online applications can only be paid at the time of lodgement through an electronic payment portal.  Accepted methods of payment through this portal are by credit card, Australian Debit card, PayPal, UnionPay or BPay. 

For some subclasses the visa application charge exceeds the ZAR50,000 transaction limit imposed by the Reserve Bank of South Africa.  In these cases applicants should make use of PayPal.  You will still need to contact your bank as part of the process.

Please Note:  It is not possible to link a prepaid receipt to an online application.  Prepayments are only for paper applications.  A prepaid receipt cannot be linked to an invalid application.

My current visa is about to expire/has expired and I would like to travel to Australia again soon.
Once a visa has expired it cannot be renewed or extended.  If you need to travel to Australia after your visa has expired you will need to lodge a new application.  Please check that your new application is for the correct purpose of travel.  For example, if your previous application was for tourism purposes but you are wanting to travel to attend a conference – is a subclass 600 the correct visa?  We encourage applicants to make use of the visa finder each time they apply for a visa as there may have been changes since your last lodgement.

I am encountering technical difficulties and cannot submit my application.
Please click here to report all problems with your ImmiAccount. The link will take you to an online form where you can report your problem.  The technical team will then respond.

Unfortunately staff in Pretoria are unable to access applicant’s ImmiAccounts and are not able to trouble shoot within the ImmiAccount system.  This is why you have been directed to the technical team who will be able to assist with technical problems.

For online lodged partner visa applications only:

If you are out of space on your own ImmiAccount you are able to provide more supporting documents on your Sponsor’s ImmiAccount. If your Sponsor has no ImmiAccount, one needs to be created.  Please note that the sponsor will need the Transaction Reference Number (TRN) that was generated when your application was lodged initially.  Please ensure that once your sponsor has created their ImmiAccount, they select ‘New Application’ and not ‘Import Application’.

 How do I start the medical process?
Applicants are able to start their medical examinations before or at the time of lodgement instead of waiting for a medical request letter.  Information on medical requirements can be found on the immigration website.  In general the following applicants will need to provide some form of medical examination –

·         Students

·         Applicants over 75 years of age

·         Applicants who will enter a medical facility

·         Applicants wishing to remain for more than 6 months.

You may start the process by completing the My Health Declaration.  Guidance on this process can be found in this link to a PDF document. 


How do I book a biometrics appointment?
Thank you for your enquiry about providing your biometrics.  Please note that biometrics can only be collected by our Service Delivery Partner VFS Global.

The biometrics collection requires a facial photograph be taken and all fingerprints collected.

Please use the website or contact VFS Global on their call centre number to arrange an appointment to attend one of their offices.  Please note, making an appointment for biometric enrolment is recommended but not mandatory.  You should be aware that priority is given to those applicants who have made appointments and you may be required to wait until there is a free appointment.  During peak processing times the wait may be lengthy.

To make an appointment online please register here.

Please note that there are two options when making appointments, one for appointments to lodge an application and one for appointments to provide biometrics.  Please ensure that you pick the option for Biometric Enrolment. 

You will need to take your biometrics request letter and your passport with you when you attend the closest VFS Global office.  Please check the information on your request letter and ensure that you are attending your appointment before the required date.  If you arrive and the request has expired VFS Global will not be able to take your biometrics.

It will take a day or two for the biometric collection to be recorded on the systems.

 I have provided Biometrics before – do I need to provide them again?
Yes you do.  The requirement to provide biometrics is per application lodged and not per applicant.   Section 40 of the Migration Act requires each applicant to provide personal identifiers in the form of fingerprints scans and/or a digital photograph before a grant can be considered.   This requirement is per application lodged.

My ImmiAccount does not show that I have provided biometrics – what do I do?
Once your biometrics have been collected by our Service Delivery Partner they are automatically downloaded and will reflect in our processing systems.   This process should then feedback to your ImmiAccount within a day or two.  Sometimes this does not happen due to technical issues.  If you are concerned about the biometrics not reflecting you may scan the receipt issued by the Service Delivery Partner and attach it to your ImmiAccount documents. 

We do not encourage you to email us as in most cases we can view your collection details, even if your account does not confirm this.  By attaching the receipt for biometrics collection to your application the case officer will then be alerted to a possible download error and can investigate.  This is a very rare occurrence though.

  I was refused because I didn’t do my biometrics – but I couldn’t get an appointment within 14 days.
The standard biometrics request letter that applicant receive states that “You should provide your personal identifiers before you travel to Australia. If any of the applicants listed above are unable to provide their personal identifiers for any reason, contact the office processing your application as soon as possible.” 

 When you contact our office we make a case note that an exception is requested due to appointment schedules.  This is an accepted reason to provide an extension to this requirement.  However, if we are not aware of your circumstances we cannot grant an extension and the case officer is entitled to make a decision. 

Once your application has been finalised, either by refusal or by grant, the decision cannot be overturned.    Biometrics collection after a refusal will not overturn the decision.   You will then need to lodge a new application if you still wish to travel. 


I want an update on the status of my application.
You should also be aware that the Immigration Section in Pretoria handles a large number of applications each day and during peak periods this number will increase dramatically.  Because of this we do not respond to queries relating to applications that are still within our published processing times

Current global visa and citizenship processing times are now available on   To view, see the subclass page or Visa Finder for the visa subclass or citizenship type relevant to your application. On the product page, two processing times will be displayed, indicating how long it is taking to finalise 75 and 90 per cent of all applications submitted globally. Processing times apply from the date your complete application is lodged.

Please note that we will only respond to enquiries after the published 90% processing time has elapsed.

If you applied online you can check your visa application status in ImmiAccount.

We assign a status to your application to show progress.

The status shows next to your application in 'My applications summary'.

  • Incomplete means you have started but not completed an application.
  • Ready to submit means you have completed an application and can submit.
  • Submitted means you have submitted an application.
  • Received means we have received an application from you and can assess it within the current processing times.
  • Initial assessment means we are assessing your application.
  • Further assessment means we are assessing the information we requested from you.
  • Finalised means we have made a decision. We will notify you by email or post.

Note: The application status for My Health Declarations and Partner sponsorship forms will always display a status of submitted and will not change to a status of received.

I want my application expedited.
There is no fast-track visa service available.  Requests for expedited processing will not be considered if the application is still within published processing times. 

The Department recommends that people do not make non-refundable financial commitments in relation to their travel prior to receiving a visa to Australia. Applicants and visa agents are reminded that pre-booking flights or arranging meetings, conferences or work before you have received a visa does not constitute an emergency or exceptional circumstance and will not lead to expedited processing.

How do I forward additional information, either before or after I have lodged an application?
If you have not yet lodged an application please do not forward attachments.  You are required to upload all documentation via your ImmiAccount.  This office cannot upload documents for you.

If you have an ongoing visa application which was lodged online, you should attach any supporting documents to your ImmiAccount. We are not able to access your application to attach the information.  Please go into your ImmiAccount and follow the steps to upload additional information.

The processing officers will only be able to view your documents once they have been uploaded.  We have received your documents if you can see them in your ImmiAccount.   Your application will be reviewed after the specified document provision period has lapsed

For more information on attaching documents online please click here

For online lodged partner visa applications only:

If you are out of space on your own ImmiAccount you are able to provide more supporting documents on your Sponsor’s ImmiAccount. If your Sponsor has no ImmiAccount, one needs to be created.  Please note that the sponsor will need the Transaction Reference Number (TRN) that was generated when your application was lodged initially.  Please ensure that once your sponsor has created their ImmiAccount, they select ‘New Application’ and not ‘Import Application’.

If you have lodged a paper based application and have forwarded supporting documentation please take this email as proof that the email has been delivered to the Immigration Section at the Australian High Commission in Pretoria.

How do I update personal details on an open or finalised application?
Please update your details on your ImmiAccount.   You may update spelling errors, new passport information, dates of birth as well as email addresses.  By updating your details through your ImmiAccount, the changes will be immediate. Please view the Update Your Details section on the page linked here.

My visa has been refused and I wish to appeal.
Please note that once a lawful decision has been made our office is not able to change this.

This applications has been finalised and cannot be revisited.  Any additional documentation sent after the visa has been refused cannot be considered and will not result in the application being reassessed.

Failure to lodge a complete and fully documented application will result in a refusal that cannot be overturned.

Failure to comply with request for biometrics to be collected within the stipulated time frame will result in a refusal that cannot be overturned.

Please refer to your refusal notification to see whether you, or any family member you may have in Australia, is eligible for review rights. If there are review rights you will find information on how to lodge an appeal within your refusal notification.  Alternatively, unless otherwise prohibited in your refusal, it is open to you to apply again and address the concerns outlined in your refusal.

 How can I check if I still have a valid visa in effect?  I have lost my visa grant number.
Your visa details are available through the Department’s Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service. 

For a fast and convenient way to view your visa details and conditions, download myVEVO for free from your app store – it's Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) in your pocket.

To use the VEVO service, you need to know your Australian Department of Home Affairs reference number, your date of birth and your passport details.  When you were granted your Australian visa, you were issued with a visa grant notification letter which contained your departmental reference number.

If you cannot find your visa grant notification or you no longer have your departmental reference number you can request this information by completing the Request for reference number form​ and your reference number will be emailed to you.

 I need an update on an application that is being processed in Australia.
If your query relates to a subclass 651 application, any of the skilled migration subclasses or any of the other subclasses that are processed in Australia we will not be able to respond.  Please check your acknowledgement letter for a contact email and forward your query to that office.  Pretoria post is not able to provide advice on applications that are processed in Australia.  We can only advise you to contact your processing officer for accurate and up to date information.

You may wish to contact the Global Service Centre on +61 2 6196 0196. For further details you may also complete the online enquiry form


Do I need a visa label or to travel with my visa grant notification?
We no longer provide visa labels for visa grants.  The grant of your visa is recorded electronically against your passport number.  The information is accessible by airport and immigration staff.  The notification of your grant is sent to you via an email notification which you should keep with you at all times.  This is your confirmation of the grant and also of the validity and conditions linked to that grant.

Passport Validity – are there any Australian Immigration requirements?

Australia requires every traveller to have a valid passport for the duration of their time in Australia.   We do not require specific additional passport validity periods once you have departed Australia.  Applicants, however, should be aware of the requirements of the next destination once they leave Australia.  Some countries require passengers to enter with at least six months validity on their passports.

Can I travel on a one way ticket?
This will depend on how long you will be in Australia.  If you are on a 3 month tourist visa you may be questioned by Immigration officials regarding your intentions to leave within the 3 months.  A return ticket demonstrates an intention to leave. 

It would be reasonable for a student who intends to remain for a full year and not return home during holidays to purchase a one way ticket.  

An ETA eligible passport holder applied for a S/C 600 – can they get a refund?
No.  An ETA eligible passport holder is eligible to apply for either the subclass 600 , 651 or ETA.  We consider that either application is valid and could have been progressed.  While the subclass 651 application would have been the cheaper option a subclass 600 visa was also appropriate and a valid visa application was made for the purpose of travel. 

Our refund legislation does not permit for a refund to be approved under these circumstances.  The guidance in the legislation states that a refund is not due if …”the applicant applied for the incorrect visa subclass”. 

An example of this circumstance includes when a client lodges a 600 visitor application and then realises they could have applied for a similar visa (ETA or 651 visitor) at a cheaper cost.  

Are visa grant letters required for travel?
A visa grant letter is not required to enable an applicant to travel as the grant is electronically stored against a passport number.  Check-in staff and immigration officials will check the linked systems to confirm a grant.  The purpose of the letters is to remind applicants of the validity of their visa grant.  The document is important for the client only, as a reminder that they have a valid visa. 

I applied for a 12 month visa and was asked to do medicals - why?
If you select a stay of 12 months you on your application will be asked to provide medicals.  This option should not be ticked if you wish make multiple entries to Australia over a 12 month or longer period.  This option is for applicants who wish to spend more than 3 months but up to 12 months in one trip and carries a requirement to undertake medicals.   If you wish to apply for a visa that allows multiple trips of up to 3 months at a time you may request a longer validity.  This may be considered by the case officer but is dependent upon factors such as your travel history and purpose for travel.

My passport is expiring in 5 months and I wish to travel—can I continue with my travel plans?
You may enter Australia as long as you have a valid visa and a valid passport for the duration of your stay.  Australia does not require a passport to be valid for a further 6 months or any other time frame.  While you are free to travel in and out of Australia while your passport is still valid you should check with your usual country of residence regarding their passport requirements.  For example, South Africa requires all incoming travellers to have at least 6 months validity on their passports when they arrive. 

I have a valid visitor visa but now need to travel on business—can I use the valid visitor visa for business?
No.  If you travel on a visitor visa for business purposes you may be in breach of your visa conditions.  A visitor visa is only intended for visiting family/friends or tourist activities.   Regardless of the remaining validity, if you need to travel for business you will need to apply for the appropriate business visa.  The grant of a subsequent business visa will cease the tourist visa.