This is one of the most common questions that we are asked. Your Thai girlfriend has just been granted a tourist visa, her bags are packed, she’s ready to go, but does she need to have a return ticket from Australia before she departs? The answer is no she doesn’t, but this requires somewhat of an explanation.
Does my Thai girlfriend need a return ticket from Australia – key facts
Any person wanting to visit Australia must have a valid visa to do so. All Australian visas are now recorded electronically. Visa holders do not need a visa label in their passport to travel to, enter, stay or depart Australia. All visa information is available to airlines through the Advance Passenger Processing system which they have access to. We do however strongly recommend that you keep of copy of your visa grant notice with your passport as it contains all of the relevant information relating to your visas, such as date of grant, date of expiry, visa grant number, a period of stay permitted and visa conditions.
If your Thai girlfriend has been granted a visa to visit you in Australia, it will most likely be a visitor visa under the tourist stream. This is because Thai nationals are not eligible for an ETA visa. To be granted a visitor visa your girlfriend had to satisfy the Department that she has a genuine intention to visit Australia temporarily as required by the Migration Regulations. Her visa grant notice will list all of the conditions attached to her visa, including her visa validity period. You will see from her visa grant notice that there is no actual requirement for her to have a return ticket. If it was, this would be a condition attached to her visa.
Although there is no requirement for her to have a return ticket, very rarely now, some airline check-in staff may not fully understand this requirement and might ask to see a return ticket when she checks in at the airport. For this reason, we always advise clients to check with the relevant airline prior to travel if they have only purchased a one-way ticket to Australia. If you can, get a confirmation in writing that a return ticket is not required.
When your girlfriend arrives in Australia, she may be asked questions about her stay by an officer at immigration clearance. They may want to know if she has a return ticket or the ability to purchase one to depart Australia prior to her visa expiring. You may have seen the popular TV series Border Security, where people arriving in Australia are asked any number of questions by immigration at the airport. These questions are asked to determine whether the visitor’s intention is still continuing to visit Australia temporarily. If your girlfriend doesn’t have a return ticket, or able to show money to purchase one, perhaps because you are providing all financial support, she should simply tell the immigration officer that. If you provided a letter of support that was included with her tourist visa application, tell her to keep a copy with her passport. Another very useful tip is to make sure that she has your mobile number on her. If she encounters any problems at immigration clearance she can ask them to call you.