Wednesday, 24 November 2010

When is a visit to another country not a visit to another country?

Answer  - In Australia when it is a cruise of less than 30 days starting and returning to the same port.  OK so why might this be relevent.

We arrived in Australia with a 6 month multi entry tourist visa subclass 676.  At the end of 6 months the options were to a/ leave the country, b/ pay $255 to extend the visa c/ leave the country and return.

IF YOU LEAVE THE COUNTRY ON A CRUISE AND RETURN WITHIN 30 DAYS YOU ARE CONSDIERED TO HAVE BEEN IN TRANSIT AND THIS DOES NOT RE SET YOUR VISA.

Many people in immigraiton and customs are not aware of this.

Our situation panned out as follows.

Rather than spend $255 on an visa extension we thought it would be smart to put this money towards a trip abroad.  We checked with an immigration office that going abroad would include places such as New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu or Fiji and it did.  WE OMITTED TO MENTION THAT WE WERE CONSIDERING A CRUISE.

Got a good deal on a cruise to Vanuatu and New Caledonia and left Sydney after showing our passport and customs card on departure.  On return to Sydney there were no immigration people to stamp us for re-entry.  We arrived back the day our initial visa ran out and it was a Saturday and the immigration offices were closed.

Went to immigraiton at the airport to be told we should get on a flight to New Zealand before midnight to comply.  This was going to be very expensive and with prompting for alternatives the immigration officer said we could go to a computer and lodge a visa application on line.  This did not work for our visa type and because of this we were told (wrongly) that we could front up at an immigration office on Monday and be treated the same as if we had applied on line.

Not so.  By Monday we were illegal immigrants and had to bounce between the Melbourne visa compliance office and visa application unit.  First to be issued a free bridging visa giving us 7 days to leave the country or return with a ticket for a flight out within 14 days.  We pushed more saying we really wanted to say and were told to apply for a new visa.  THE BRIDGING VISA CANCELS ALL PREVIOUS VISAS.  This cost us $255 each plus because we had been in a TB country within the last 5 years $100 each for chest x-rays.  WE then had to go back to compliance to lodge our new visa application against the bridging visa so the bridging visa would last until the extension was processed.

A huge amount of expense and inconvenience that could have been avoided if had known the cruise situation.

1 comment:

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