In a nutshell, an offshore visa application means that you apply for an Australian visa while you are outside Australia. An onshore application means that you apply for your visa while you are in Australia. There are advantages and disadvantages to applying for either type of visa, and you'll be required to meet certain requirements before the visa is granted.
Onshore Visa Applications
If you're making an onshore application for your Australian visa, you must be in Australia both when you make the application, and when the visa is granted.
If you're applying onshore, you will usually qualify for a Bridging Visa, which allows you to remain in Australia while your substantive visa is being processed. There are several different types of Bridging Visas available, each with different conditions attached: some Bridging Visas don't allow you to leave Australia while your main visa is being processed, while others don't allow you to work until your main visa has been finalised.
It's also important to note that onshore applications generally take longer to be processed than offshore applications, and they may involve higher fees than an offshore application.
Offshore Visa Applications
The vast majority of immigrants apply for their permanent resident visa for Australia while they are offshore. You must be outside Australia when you apply for the visa, and you must be outside Australia when your visa is granted.
Does this mean that you can't visit Australia before your visa is granted? Not at all. Feel free to get an Australian visitor visa and come before your application is finalised. When the Australian immigration department is ready to finalise your application, they’ll let you know, and you can leave Australia in order for the visa to be finalised. You don’t have to go all the way back to your home country, either – feel free to consider a holiday to New Zealand or Fiji, or anywhere else you’d like to visit. You simply have to leave Australia for the visa to be finalised.
If you're considering making the move, or are wondering about which visa would suit you and your circumstances, contact the experienced and friendly team at Pathway Lawyers & Migration Agents for an obligation-free appraisal of the best visa path for you.