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What is the 651 visa?
The 651 visa is designed for EU citizens visiting Australia for non-employment purposes and works in a similar way to the ESTA system in the U.S. Basically, if you're an EU citizen, you can apply for the 651 eVisitor visa before you come to Australia. That way, you don't need to go to an embassy or consulate. British citizens are still currently eligible for this visa.
The 651 visa lets you visit Australia as often as you want over a 12 month period. You can stay for up to 3 months each time you enter the country.
Who is the 651 visa for?
The 651 visa is for individuals who hold a passport from the European Union and plan to visit Australia for up to 3 months. Eligible countries include:
- Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
- Republic of San Marino
- Slovak Republic
- United Kingdom – British Citizen
- Vatican City
It's designed for travellers, but might be suitable for some students and workers in certain circumstances. However. if the main reason for travelling to Australia is to study or work, a student or working holiday visa is probably more appropriate. According to the Department Home Affairs, the 651 visa is suitable for individuals:
- Visiting family or friends
- Going on a cruise or holiday
- Undertaking business visitor activities (a business visitor can make general business enquiries, enter into and review business contracts and take part in a conference)
- Studying for up to 3 months
What are the 651 visa conditions?
To be eligible for the 651 visa, these are the main requirements you will need to meet:
- Have a valid passport (from one of the countries listed above)
- Intend to stay temporarily in Australia. (You can't stay for longer than three months but you can come and go over a 12 month period)
- Meet healthcare requirements. (You may be required to get some form of health insurance depending on your circumstances)
- Meet the character requirement. If you have a criminal conviction in any country, you should apply for a Visitor visa (subclass 600) instead. Visitors on a 651 visa with a criminal conviction might be refused entry into the country.
- Have enough money to support yourself while you are visiting.
Why does the 651 visa require insurance?
The 651 may require you to have some kind of insurance in order to meet the government's healthcare requirements. These are put in place so that you don't become a burden on the Australian healthcare system. Essentially, you need to look after yourself while you are here. That generally means you need some kind of healthcare cover.
Fortunately, there are plenty of Australian private health funds offering policies specifically designed to meet the cover needs of overseas visitors. These policies are known as overseas visitors health cover (OVHC) and they can protect you for things like surgery, pharmaceuticals and emergency ambulance.
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