Thai nationals: do they get unfairly treated when it comes to applying for an Australian Tourist visa?

Thousands of Thai nationals apply for an Australian Tourist visa every year. Unfortunately a large percentage of the applications are refused. There are a number of reasons for this. Thailand is classified as a ‘high risk’ country by the Australian government department that deals with visas – called the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). A Thai applicant for a Tourist visa is required to submit a paper application which involves filling in forms, attaching supporting documentation and undergoing a number of checks. The result of this demanding and in depth procedure is that many Thai applicants end up failing to satisfy some of the requirements. On the other hand, citizens of many other countries such as the USA, the UK, Ireland, France, Japan and South Korea are not required to undertake such a rigorous procedure to obtain an Australian Tourist visa. They only need to provide the most basic of personal information and can even submit an application online. Why is this? Is this unfair treatment of Thai citizens?

DIAC justifies its different policies for different countries on the basis of a number of criteria including Australia’s relationships with certain countries and regions, the economic, social and political situation in countries and the past visa history of Australian visa holders. For example, one of the reasons that mainland China is classified as ‘high risk’ for an Australian Tourist visa because many prior Tourist visa holders have overstayed their visa or breached other conditions such as by working (working is prohibited on a Tourist visa).

There are also many other reasons why so many applications are refused. Applying for even an Australian Tourist visa is a relatively complicated undertaking and many applicants submit very poor applications with insufficient supporting documentation. Even if the Thai applicant would have qualified for the Tourist visa, if they do not show evidence to evidence every aspect of their application they will probably be refused the visa.

Some applications are refused because of financial reasons. The economic situation and standard of living in Thailand, even though it is quite high for Asia, is generally lower than that of Australia and DIAC has concerns about whether an applicant has enough funds to support their visit, whether they are genuine tourist and whether they have any incentives to return to Thailand. One thing that can help is when as a Thai citizen you know an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Many Thai citizens have an Australian friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, wife, husband or partner. If this is the case your Australian partner should be able to sponsor you and offer to shoulder some or all of the burden of the financial requirements.