September 21, 2021

Want to know if you're eligible for an Australian visa?

Here's where to start.

Mark Walsh

I’ve suggested this approach to help hundreds of my clients to get an idea of Australian visa options available – even before sitting down for a consultation. To find out if you're eligible for an Australian visa, the first step is to jump into the Department of Home Affairs website and start your research.

The current version of the Department of Home Affairs website is unrecognisable compared to previous versions of the site. In the early 2000s, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs website (yes, what a name!) was drab, depressing and frustrating to navigate. It definitely was not a great user experience.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs website, courtesy of the Wayback Machine, 9 June 2004.

Thankfully, today the Department of Home Affairs website is a fresher, lighter and more user-friendly resource. Because Australian immigration law and policy is complex, the website is still limited – but it’s a great starting point to learn your overall Australian visa options.

Let's take a quick tour of the main features of the website so that you can work out which Australian visa is likely to suit you.

Step 1 - Explore visa options

Starting at the 'Immigration and Citizenship' section of the Department of Home Affairs website, select the ‘Explore Visa Options’ tab. This section is a broad overview of the categories of Australian visas – from Visitor, to Work and Study, all the way through Refugee and Humanitarian visas.

Department of Home Affairs website - Explore Visa Options

By the way, a very useful selection is the ‘see other visas’ tab. This selection will give you a complete list of all the 99+ different Australian visa subclasses available. If you think 99 visa subclasses is 89 too many, you’d agree that there are ways in which to improve the Australian visa system

Step 2 – Choose a category

On the 'Explore visa options' page, you are presented with a range of visa categories - Visit and tourism, Study, Work, and so forth. For this example, let's choose 'Study'. You are then presented with some questions to help you work out which visa is most suited to you. These questions are the old ‘visa wizard’ of previous versions of the Department's website.

Now, let's choose:
-  I want to come to Australia to ‘study full-time’

Department of Home Affairs website

 Step 3 - Visa Subclass Overview

The 'Study' selection is the simplest example under the 'Explore visa options' on the website. Essentially in this category, there are only three visa options - students, guardians and trainees. Answering ‘I want to come to Australia to study full-time’ reveals one result - 'Subclass 500 Student Visa'.

You’ll notice the main features of the overview page:

- About this visa
- Eligibility
- Step-by-step
- When you have this visa

The layout is clear and straightforward to follow. In your visa research stage, you’ll focus on the ‘About this visa’ and ‘Eligibility’ tabs.

Department of Home Affairs website. Subclass 500 Student Visa overview page.

'About this visa’

In this tab, you’ll find the basics of the visa - cost, apply from where, how long you can stay, visa obligations, and so forth. Match these basics to your expectations and personal circumstances. You may be able to rule out a visa quickly, should, for example, you find the application cost too prohibitive, or you are not in the correct location to make this sort of application.


Next, you’ll focus on whether you’re eligible for the visa. Take a look at the ‘eligibility’ tab.

This part is the ‘meat’ of the visa subclass. You’ll be able to get a good idea of whether you are likely to be granted this visa. The 'eligibility' tab has a range of dropdowns for each eligibility item. Take sometime to see to look over each of the elements there.

PRO TIP: You can easily get lost among all the extra links embedded into each section of the 'eligibility' tab. Try opening links in a new browser tabs rather than navigate away from the visa overview page. In this way, you can explore all the side issues, such as health insurance, English requirements, etc., without losing track of the ‘eligibility’ page.
Final thoughts

It would help if you kept in mind that Australian immigration can be very complicated. In my experience, the Department’s website is now an excellent starting point for your visa eligibility research. However, the website is limited when expressing subtle nuance – particularly about government policy.

Once you have identified the visa that suits you, your next step you may consider a consultation with a professional migration agent/lawyer. You may not need an agent to assist you with a complete application; however, it can be helpful to get an idea of whether you are missing some critical policy item not addressed on the Department’s website. If you'd like a more detailed assessment of your eligibility for an Australian visa, contact us for a consultation.

Good luck with your research!

Photo by Susan Qin on Unsplash


The information provided in this article or anywhere on this website is of a general nature, it does not relate to your specific circumstance. This general information must not be used to form any assessment or opinion on individual visa eligibility. For an individual assessment you must contact us for a consultation session to confirm if you are eligible for any visa. 


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