One thing I despise about living in a 3rd world country is having to apply for tourist visas for most countries outside Asia. Not only are they expensive but it can get pretty stressful having to compile all the documents that you need. When my husband and I travel, we hardly go through travel agencies nor do we join tour groups. Oh if only I could skip the hassle and go everywhere I want to in a whim (I would totally fall in love with my Philippine passport).
Yesterday, in preparation for our family trip to Australia in May, we lodged our tourist visa applications. This was the second time we applied for a tourist visa and this trip will be my third time to visit this lovely country (my favorite Australian city – Gold Coast – how I miss you!). I had to lodge 5 visa applications – mine, my husband’s, my son’s, my 2 sisters-in-law’s apps. We had 2 options: 1. call the toll number and schedule for a courier pick-up. 2 way fee (pick-up & delivery): P320 per applicant. But the downside was the call would cost us 32 bucks per minute. And based on experience, the call takes a while. 2. Go directly to the VIA Center (Visa Information & Application Center) in Makati. Fee: P600 per applicant. The good thing about bringing your papers directly to them is that they make a checklist of everything that you submit. Also, your papers will be at the embassy the very next day. The downside: it took me 2 1/2 hours to finish everything–a waiting time of almost 2 hours and another 30+ minutes once you get to the counter. My husband brought his PSP, so he wasn’t bored. I, on the other hand was a bit unlucky; I forgot to bring my ebook reader (I blame it on the stress), I had my Ipod but wasn’t able to charge it and cellular phones had to be shut down.
So what do you need to apply for an Australian Tourist Visa? I would say the usual: filled up forms (48R for Filipinos), bank cheques (payment for the visa fee – P4,700 per applicant – even for my 20 month old son!), birth certificate, marriage certificate (I submit this because I don’t use my husband’s family name), passport pictures with plain backgrounds, bank certificates, proof of financial capability (credit card statements, etc), employment/student/business papers and any other kind of proof of your ties in your country. But I completely forgot about needing photocopies of the data/information page of our passports and photocopies of our bank certificates. Luckily my husband’s PSP ran out of batteries and he had them photocopied for me 🙂
Every time we lodge visa applications, I learn something new (I seriously learned how not to cram applications the HARD WAY). This time around I found out that some people just submit a photocopy of their passport (Aus visa application only). This will become helpful when you have other trips in line and you fear that your passport might not be returned to you in time. Of course there is an additional cost but I suppose it should be worth it rather having your passport pulled out (which a lot of embassies allow if really necessary).
My husband (the optimist in our relationship) always tells me not to worry about being approved, but I always do. I just don’t want to set myself up for disappointment. So here I am again, counting the days and crossing my fingers that all our visa applications will be approved. 🙂