Rule No.1. Do not trust an airline company, Air Miles company, or private travel agent with producing the correct visa document. Since it was electronically produced and never sent to us, Aeromiles Canada, really produced not the visa we needed, but produced a lot of heart ache and a ban from returning to Australia for the next four years.
Rule No.2 Hold that electronic visa in your fist! Get it by any means available.
Here is the story of Trish, my wife, and myself on our second visit to Australia. Trish had previously been on a teacher exchange to Australia and, at that time, she had the correct visa. For me to stay over the regular 3 month visa, I had to apply for an extended six month visa and then re-new it again while in Australia. No worries! I did that. It was easy because the visa was stamped in my passport.
Back to our second visit in 2011-12. We were told that we had an extended six month visa. The booking clerk at Aeroplan, Canada, told us repeatedly that she knew we needed a six month visa because she was looking at our tickets. We entered Australia without a problem, but on the way out….five months later……HELP.
Trish was ahead of me when we were exiting Australia at the Sydney Airport. She was talking about how much she had enjoyed the visit. She also remarked that she would “Love to Stay Longer!” The customs officers smiled at one another. “I think you need to talk with Mike.”
Well, Mike laid it on heavy. According to his computer records, we had loved Australia so much that we had overstayed our three month visa and were two months overdue. We had broken Australian law. We explained and pleaded, but to no avail. We were banned for four years from our date of exit.
Now, I’m not a person put off easily by rules and regulations that I am falsely accused of breaking. I wrote on Trish and my behalf, first to the Australian Embassy in our capital city, Ottawa. No luck! Next, I wrote to the Minister of Emigration in Australia’s capital, Canberra. No Luck!
The “no worries” approach of the average Australian did not apply to our criminal actions.
We are returning to Australia, a land that we love. Our friends will be there to welcome us, but I’ve warned you about electronic visas.