New 10-year tourist visa stream to be added: Chinese nationals need only apply

There will be a new tourist visa “stream” coming into force on 19 November 2016. This will add a fifth stream to the: Tourist, Business Visitor, Family Sponsored, and Approved Destination Status streams currently available.

The new stream is called the Frequent Traveller, which will provide a visa for up to 10 years and will allow the holder to enter Australia for up to three months on each visit. The visa application charge will be AUD 1000, and the visa applicant must be outside of Australia when applying. It will be available for applicants intended to come to Australia for either tourism or business visitor activities.

This new tourist visa comes with a couple of new visa conditions that are mandatory, and in addition to others tourist visa related conditions. The first provides the government a discretion to request, in writing, the visa holder to undertake a medical visa with an approved panel doctor. While no explanation has been given, it seems this would help control any public health risks.

The second is that the visa holder cannot stay in Australia for more than 12 months in any 24-month period. This is designed to ensure the visa holder does not maintain a de facto residency in Australia.

The other important thing to note is a ‘No Further Stay’ condition is also mandatory. This condition can affect a number of visa subclasses and prevents the visa holder, after they have entered Australia, from being entitled to be granted another substantive visa while they remain, other than a protection visa. This effectively bars any person from lodging another application while in Australia, with the one exception mentioned. While this condition can be waived, the personal circumstances required to do this are steep.

Initially, this visa will be available to Chinese nationals only, however, it will probably roll out to other nationalities in the future should there be enough demand. The intent of this new visa is simply to reduce the burden of repeating the same application by frequent visitors, and processing and assessing these applications by case officers.