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Letters of Support for Visitors to Australia

Letters of support and guarantees offered by relatives, friends, businesses and Members of Parliament in Australia are taken into consideration when making a decision on a visa application. Such support or guarantees are important in assisting a decision-maker to consider the merits of each case. However, they are not, in themselves, sufficient evidence that a genuine visit is intended. The onus is on the applicant to demonstrate an intention to make a genuine visit. You can assist the person you are inviting to Australia by ensuring that person is aware of visa requirements and the need to provide supporting documentation with his/her visa application.

Refusal of a visa application despite such guarantees should in no way be taken to reflect personally on the individual providing those guarantees.

We are often asked what should be in a letter of invitation to friends or relatives visiting you in Australia. Such invitation can be in the form of a letter or a statutory declaration. It should set out the name of the person whom you are inviting, the time period for which you are inviting them, and the type of support, if any, you are planning to provide (e.g. whether they will be living with you, if you are planning to pay for their living costs, transport etc).

Supporting Documentation and Interviews

The Migration Act 1958 provides that a decision may be made on an application at any time on the basis of the available documentation and without any further reference to the applicant. This is the approach taken by the Embassy in relation to visitor visa applications. Therefore it is important that visa applicants submit all documentation in support of their application at the time they apply for their visa. This includes all information that the sponsor or inviter wishes to be taken into account as part of the visa application.

We will only contact the applicant if we need to clarify something.

In some of the permanent migration visa classes, sponsors may be interviewed. A decision on whether an interview is required is based on the circumstances of each case and not all sponsors will be interviewed. If an interview is required the sponsor will be contacted by the Embassy. Where sponsors are in Australia, a telephone interview can be arranged if appropriate.

Case Enquiries from Sponsors

The Embassy often receives queries from inviters and sponsors seeking information on the progress of cases. Information received by the Embassy is confidential and protected from unauthorised disclosure according to the Privacy Act 1988.

Personal information will not be released unless the law permits it. In general, this means that we are unable to discuss applications (including reasons for decisions) with friends or sponsors. It is important that you remain in contact with the applicant on the progress of the application and, if applicable, reasons for a decision. Where a decision is made to refuse to grant a visa, applicants are provided a letter setting out reasons for that decision.

Where a sponsor or a Member of Parliament acting on behalf of a sponsor seeks access to personal information of an applicant, we are able to advise whether the application has been lodged, the stage reached, points awarded, decision made, and the legal criteria which have not been met. Certain general information including advice on processing times, advice on the requirements that apply to a particular visa class, and passmark and pooling provisions can also be disclosed.

Further information on privacy is available on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website:
Privacy Information

Correspondence

The Embassy receives considerable correspondence from applicants, sponsors and members of Parliament regarding decisions to refuse visas. Where a decision is made to refuse to grant a visa, applicants are provided with a letter which sets out the reasons for the refusal and the options available, including whether the applicant has a review right. We therefore request that applicants, sponsors and inviters refer to the information contained in this letter, since this may provide the answer to any questions about the decision.

Internet Scams Targeting Sponsors

The Embassy is aware of number of Australian citizens who have been defrauded by bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes purportedly operating mainly from Russia. Such scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual relationship develops, the Australian citizen is asked by their friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia. Once the money has been received, the relationship is usually terminated and any chance of recovering the funds is highly unlikely.

Scammers often make use of what appear to be Australian Government email addresses to send fraudulent emails to the Australian party, informing them that the friend or prospective marriage partner has been granted a visa to visit Australia to further the relationship. The message may include fake details of a non-existent visa.

The Australian Government has notified the Government of Russia about its concern over this matter BUT there is little the Australian Government can do to assist citizens who fall victim to the individuals and agencies behind these schemes.

To protect yourself:

  • Treat with caution any request to forward money. We understand that individuals have been asked to provide funding for airline tickets, visas, hospitalisation and excessive customs duties.

  • Verify the authenticity of an e-mail message purportedly from the Australian Embassy in Moscow advising you of visa details relating to your friend or prospective spouse. Unless you have been formally authorised to receive such information, the message is likely to be a fake. You can verify its authenticity by sending a new message to immigration.moscow@dfat.gov.au explaining the situation and asking for verification that the details did indeed come from that office. Do not simply "forward" or "reply" to the message sent to you since it may go back to the scammers rather than to the Embassy.

  • Seek authoritative information about Australia's visa requirements, procedures and costs through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website www.border.gov.au, in Australia, through the 24-hour national telephone service inquiry line on 131881(for the cost of a local call).

  • If you wish to proceed in assisting someone's travel to Australia, consider prepaying for airline tickets directly with the carrier.

Please note:

  • Once money has been advanced, the Australian Government has no legal power to assist in its retrieval. The recovery of funds is a private legal matter and the onus for recovery is on the individual.

  • The Australian Government can assist only by providing the names of in-country legal representatives.

  • Travel to the country in question in order to "sort things out" can be dangerous and is not advisable.

If you believe that you have been a victim of a financial scam:

The Australian Federal Polices advises you to report the matter to your State/Territory Police Service and request that your report be forwarded to Interpol.