What is it? What visa application does it apply to?
You and your Thai girlfriend may get to the stage where you would like her to spend some time with you in Australia. There could be many reasons for this: you may want her to meet some of your family and friends; you may want her to be able to experience a taste of the Australian way of life; you may want to see if your relationship will work when you are living together on a full-time basis while you are working; and you may just want to enjoy doing some touring around Australia together.
Whatever the reason, if she is to come to Australia your girlfriend will have to apply for and be granted a visa. A tourist visa will usually be the most suitable visa for the purposes described above. Thailand is classed as a ‘high risk’ country by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and obtaining even a Tourist visa is not necessarily an easy thing to achieve. In fact, over 50% of self-prepared applications are refused.
DIAC requires that Thai applicants fill in a paper application and provide a considerable amount of supporting documentation. DIAC looks more closely at the personal situation of applicants from ’high risk’ countries such as Thailand and the Philippines than from other countries such as the USA, Japan, South Korea, the UK and others in western Europe.
Your Thai girlfriend, on her own, may not be able to meet all the requirements for a Tourist visa. However, all is not lost. You as her Australian boyfriend can offer to support her visit by providing her with an invitation to visit you. This invitation should include an offer of support for her visit. Support can take on many different forms. You can offer to provide her with financial support to cover her expenses such as a plane ticket and living costs. You can offer to provide her with accommodation or virtually anything else that she might need while in Australia.
It is important to realise that providing an invitation will not necessarily automatically result in your girlfriend getting her Tourist or other visas. When you submit an invitation DIAC will look at your personal situation and have to assess whether your offer of assistance is going to fully meet the visa requirements. Furthermore, there are many ‘red flags’ or risk factors which DIAC looks out for. DIAC is often concerned that people coming to Australia for a visit really have ulterior motives like wanting to work or live in Australia permanently and they need to be persuaded that this is not the case. The Australian Embassy looks out for inconsistencies and signs that the applicant’s actual intentions are not congruent with the case they put forward. There are many counterintuitive aspects of a visa application that people get wrong all the time. People often think DIAC wants to hear one thing or another but it is often the case that the opposite is true. So it is easy to see that badly a prepared invitation can actually be worse than no invitation at all.
As well as invitations being suitable for you to provide for your girlfriend for a Tourist visa, they can also be suitable for other types of visas. For example, a Student visa whereby you might offer to provide an invitation and offer for financial support in the form of the tuition fees or living costs. Also for Fiance and Partner (Marriage) visas where there is a mandatory requirement that the Australian offers to support or ‘sponsor’ the ‘applicant’. In this case, the invitation takes on a much more important and demanding role which reflects the permanent nature of these sorts of visas.
At Australian Visa Advice, we can offer advice on invitations, offers of support and every other aspect of a visa application. Feel free to consult us for a free assessment by clicking on the contact section of the website and following the prompts.