9.1.1 Checking Visas

Introduction

Increasing amounts of the Department of Home Affairs' services no longer involve the physical exchange of paper forms and letters and alternatively encourage the use of online immigration services.

Australian visas are recorded electronically and the Australian Government no longer requires visa holders to have an Australian visa label in their passport. Most non-citizens of Australia who now travel to and reside in Australia do not have visa labels in their passports.

Online visa verification provides more timely and secure information as to the entitlements of a visa holder.

The Department of Home Affairs shares immigration data with a number of Australian government agencies (see Department of Home Affairs Form 1442i - Safeguarding your personal information).

The extent and type of information will depend on the Memorandum of Understanding that exists between the Department of Home Affairs and the other party.

Government agencies can also register with the Department of Home Affairs' Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system. VEVO allows visa holders and registered Australian organisations, such as employers, labour suppliers, education providers, migration agents, banks and government agencies, to check visa details and entitlements.

Organisations can register for different VEVO categories, including:

  • work entitlements,
  • study entitlements,
  • licensing eligibility,
  • residence status,
  • immigration status,
  • medicare eligibility, and
  • migration agent.

The example below shows a sample online VEVO check for Medicare.

Note: Only staff from the DHS (Medicare) can register for this category. If a New Zealand citizen is outside Australia at the time of a VEVO check, VEVO will provide an error message (unless the New Zealand citizen holds a visa other than subclass 444). This is because the 444 visa expires each time its holder departs Australia. Should that person return to Australia as a New Zealand citizen, they will be granted a new 444 visa upon arrival.

Sample online VEVO check for Medicare

You can find more information about VEVO at the Depatment of Home Affairs' website.

Some visa holders may continue to present with a printed visa label affixed to their passport. VEVO should be used to check if the information on the visa label is current and accurate.

ImmiCards

ImmiCards are an official, secure immigration credential that contains a photograph and personal details such as surname, given names and date of birth and sex. ImmiCards contain a unique number that is linked to biometric and visa details held in the Department of Home Affairs' systems.

ImmiCards assist the card holder to prove their visa or immigration status and enrol for services they may be entitled to.

The ImmiCard is not evidence of a valid visa and does not state which class of visa the person holds. Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) is an online Department of Home Affairs' system that can be used to verify the ImmiCard holder's visa status and entitlements (such as work entitlements). A Residence Determination ImmiCard (RDI) cannot be verified through VEVO because community detainees do not hold an Australian visa.

All ImmiCards details can be verified through the Document Verification Service (DVS). The DVS is a national online system that confirms that the ImmiCard has not been cancelled and matches records held by Immigration systems.

ImmiCards have not retrospectively replaced the Visa Evidence Card (PLO56s) issued prior to 23 March 2013 when ImmiCards were introduced. Visa Evidence Cards are still accepted by Government agencies and holders of these documents can still use their PLO56 to enrol for services they are entitled to.

Expired ImmiCards

The ImmiCard expiry date is for immigration administrative purposes only and is not linked to visa expiry.

Expired ImmiCards that have been verified using VEVO or DVS may be considered valid credentials as part of the evidence of identity checking process.

There are 3 ImmiCards.

The Permanent Resident Evidence (PRE) ImmiCard

Sample Permanent Resident Evidence ImmiCard

Permanent Protection visa holders, on the grant of their visa, are eligible to order a PRE ImmiCard online. PRE ImmiCards are issued to the following visa holders:

  • XA 866 Protection.

Note: ImmiCards are not issued to Class XB Refugee and Special Humanitarian Program visa holders. Documents for Travel to Australia (DFTTAs) are issued to holders of these visas.

The PRE Immicard:

  • states a card holder's recorded identity for the purposes of granting a permanent visa,
  • can be used by the card holder as a primary Commencement of Identity credential,
  • can confirm permanent resident status when verified through VEVO,
  • supports access to services such as:
    • Medicare,
    • social security support through the DHS,
    • entitlement to work and public education.

The Evidence of Immigration Status (EIS) ImmiCard

Sample Evidence of Immigration Status ImmiCard

The EIS ImmiCard is issued to holders of the following visas:

  • WE-050 or WE-051 Bridging visa E,
  • UO 786 Temporary (Humanitarian Concern),
  • XA 785 Temporary Protection,
  • UJ 449 Temporary Safe Haven,
  • WR 070 Bridging (Removal Pending).

The EIS ImmiCard:

  • records a card holder's claimed identity at the time of issue as recorded on departmental systems,
  • can help in assessing the holder's temporary resident status when verified through VEVO,
  • helps a card holder access services in accordance with their temporary visa conditions,
  • can be used by the card holder as a primary Commencement of Identity credential,
  • is not evidence of a valid visa or work entitlements; these entitlements must be verified using VEVO.

The Residence Determination ImmiCard (RDI)

Sample Residence Determination ImmiCard

The RDI is issued to detainees accommodated in the community who are unlawful (non-visaed) non-citizens of Australia. The RDI:

  • records a card holder's claimed identity at the time of issue
  • provides detainees with a primary Commencement of Identity that can be verified through the DVS
  • is not verifiable through VEVO (because community detainees do not have an Australian visa and do not have permission to work under the conditions attached to their community detention placement).

You can find more information about ImmiCards at the Department of Home Affairs' website.

Note: As indicated above, in most circumstances people will not have a visa label or arrival/departure stamp in the passport. The 2 images below shows specific features of a visa label and an arrival stamp that in some circumstances, such as when an individual has requested a visa label or stamp may help to determine if the holder of the visa is a permanent or temporary resident in Australia.

Visa example

Arrived stamp

Last reviewed: 10 November 2014