Since 6 April it is once again possible to apply for an ETA Australia (subclass 601) to travel to the country. The application procedure for an ETA is different than for the cheaper eVisitor Australia (subclass 651). Among other things, a special app must be downloaded for it.
When should you apply for an ETA?
For holidays and business trips to Australia, the eVisitor and the ETA Australia are by far the two most popular visas requested by travellers. Both visas are valid for one year and both the ETA and the eVisitor allow one to stay in Australia for three months per visit. The application for both visas is processed entirely online. However, the ETA is more expensive and generally takes longer to get delivered than the eVisitor visa.
The main difference between the ETA and the eVisitor visa is that the ETA is available for more nationalities. Travellers who do not qualify for an eVisitor due to their nationality can apply for an ETA to travel to Australia instead. The eVisitor is usually the better choice for travellers who are eligible due to its lower cost and faster delivery times.
Backlog of visa applications for Australia
Due to COVID-19, Australia has a backlog of visa applications to process. Due to the pandemic, Australia has not processed any visa applications for a long time. However, these applications were not cancelled, but put on hold. Now that Australia is processing visa applications again, all the backlogged applications are yet to be evaluated. As a result, delays in new applications have become more frequent. This is especially the case with eVisitor applications. Because the ETA Australia could not be applied for temporarily due to COVID-19, most tourists and business travellers have had to reply on the eVisitor.
Since 6 April, the ETA Australia is available again. Travellers whose eVisitor application has been on hold for a long time can apply for an ETA in addition to their eVisitor. This does not cause any issues, as the visas are handled by two different departments of the Australian Immigration Services. It is therefore possible to have both an eVisitor application and an ETA application in progress. As soon as one of the two is approved, one can travel with that visa.
New ETA Australia application procedure
Before COVID-19, the ETA, like the eVisitor visa, could be applied for via an online form. This is no longer the case. The ETA can now be applied for via the Australian Immigration Service’s special app, the AustralianETA app. The app can be downloaded for free from the Apple Store or the Google Play Store. All applications must be submitted individually; it is therefore not possible to submit group applications. After downloading the app, the passport must be scanned so that personal details fill in automatically. Then, a photo of the applicant has to be taken, and some background questions have to be answered. Finally, the visa fee has to be paid, after which the application can be submitted.