Australia tourist visa 2018 VFS process for Indians

I had earlier written about Australia tourist visa for Indians- that was in early 2016. The process has changed a bit since then, which I realized as I had to apply again for Australia tourist visa. This post aims to update you on the latest Australia tourist visa process for Indians.
Key changes in Australia tourist visa process since 2016

  • Now an online submission option is available in addition to offline.
  • Processing time is now up from earlier 10-15 days to 24 working days for tourist visa (15 for business, 10 for transit visa)
  • Visa fee has seen only a marginal increase- in 2016 I paid 8000+. This time I paid INR 9000+ (150 AUD Australian consulate fee, INR 1500+ VFS Fee)
  • Earlier photo copy of lots of documents, including all passport pages were needed. These pages had to be ‘attested’ or ‘verified’ by VFS Staff at Rs 10 per page. This time documents are scanned and uploaded, hence no need for photocopy and attestation
  • Earlier submission was quicker if you had all documents, but this time I had to wait as scanning and uploading all documents took about 2 hours.
The core process and documentation required remains the same compared to earlier:
  • Fill application form (you can fill on computer and take print out-no need to fill with pen)
  • Financial proof- bank statement, ITR, credit card statement etc, attested by bank
  • Travel details- return tickets, hotel confirmation, day wise itinerary
  • Family details form (VFS will provide)- will need name, DOB and previous Australia visit details for all your immediate family members
  • Leave letter for employed people
  • Cover letter (recommended)
Of course paperwork varies from case to case- depending on your nature of visit, if you’re self-employed or employed or unemployed, your travel history, any relatives who may be in Australia, any criminal/visa rejection history/medical history you may have and so on. Extra details/documentations may be needed if you have these. All information are online and detailed in application form. Pls read and prepare your papers accordingly.

Points to note:
Online submission option means you’ll have to wait at VFS as they scan and attach all your documents- may take a few hours depending on factors like no of documents to scan, internet speed, other work load for VFS Staff etc. But once submitted the process is expected to kick in quicker, so this option should be worth it.

Offline mode will be quicker to submit- they will collect all your document and send it by post- you can leave VFS earlier but consider a day or two extra for courier to reach Australia consulate. The fee is same for both online and offline mode.

Earlier VFS Chennai offices wouldn't allow any personal item like laptop, pen drive etc. Now some of their offices have locker facility. However, it is advisable not to carry anything except your phone and wallet apart from paperwork.

Australia can allow people to apply directly on their website, pay the fee and upload document- this would allow users to avoid having to visit VFS and save about 1500 spent on VFS Fees. But I couldn't locate any "Apply Now" option anywhere on Australia Home ministry website. So I am guessing there's no escape from VFS visit at the moment for Australia visa.

Apply at least 1.5 months prior to travel date.

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