The Unknown Kind: Special Purpose Visa
A special purpose visa is a visa given by operation of law to certain non-citizens in Australia to whom standard visa and immigration clearance arrangements do not apply. The special purpose visa was created by section 33 of the Migration Act 1958 to effectively exempt certain persons from the normal processes for entry into Australia. It is because Australia operates on a universal visa regime which insists that every non-Australian citizen present within the migration zone of Australia holds a valid visa.
One must meet certain requirements to be able to make use of the Special Purpose Visa and these requirements are the following:
- members of the Royal Family (however the Queen of Australia Herself is outside the scope of any Australian immigration requirements)
- members of the Royal party accompanying the Royal Family
- official guests of the Australian government, including dependents and staff members
- members of the crew of a non-military ship visiting an Australian port or being imported into Australia, provided they hold valid passports and seafarers' documentation
crews of foreign naval ships visiting Australia
- members of the armed forces of certain countries with Status of Forces Agreements with Australia (including certain civilians attached to these armed forces) with valid military documents and travel orders, together with spouses and children holding valid national passports and military identification
- airline crew, with valid passports and employer documentation
- persons visiting Macquarie Island with advance permission of the Tasmanian Environment Department
transit passengers from specified (gazetted) countries in airside transit in Australia for less than eight hours
- traditional Indonesian fishermen visiting the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands
No visa application is required to hold a special purpose visa, and no fee is charged and yes, it is possible to hold a special purpose visa simultaneously with another type of Australian visa. However, just because a person is holding a special purpose visa, it doesn't necessarily mean that he/she is already exempted in any other rule as well. One must always remember that the visa's only use is for entrance to another country and it will, by no means, exempt you from following the laws of the land where you currently are, else you would risk yourself in detention or removal from Australia.