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  1. I discovered some new information that suggests my experience is quite typical, aside from the border patrol agent's cold, intimidating demeanor, which made me feel as if I had done something wrong. According to australiavisa.com, immigration has a 12-month rule on visitor visas: "there is a consecutive 12 month rule of your stay in Australia... multiple entry visas which allow the holder to stay in Australia no more than 12 months in an 18 month period... if you take a trip to N.Z or somewhere, re enter Australia on your current visa and then apply for a visitor visa, then of course the 12 month stay in Australia consecutive rule cannot apply to you. However there is the Genuine Temporary Entrant test case officers will look closely at...in all cases where the applicant has recently spent 12 months or more in Australia cumulatively but not consecutively, officers should consider carefully whether the applicant continues to satisfy the genuine temporary stay requirement... For example, persons returning after a short stay outside Australia and wishing to remain for a significant period may have difficulty meeting the genuine temporary stay requirement." This explains why I was told I'd have to wait 8 months before applying for a new visa. I found a post on australiaforum.com which describes a very similar situation to my own, and the moderator responded: "From what you describe it sounds like she will not be allowed entry again if she comes on a tourist visa. We have had a few forum members questioned on the 2nd or 3rd entry into Australia and were told to apply for a more appropriate visa or they would get refused entry next time." So it seems getting another ETA visa is definitely a no-go, at least for the foreseeable future. Applying to the embassy for a visitor visa might be possible after a year, but I suspect they'll make it hard. I do feel better about the situation now, though I wish Australia would be more upfront about the true nature of their visitor visa, as opposed to these secretive, backhanded methods.
  2. I'm only basing this on my own experience, which is all I have to go on, so don't take it as the gospel. I don't mean to say you will 100% get flagged on your third entry, but at some point it could happen if you're staying long term on a visitor visa. Based on this, I would advise that staying in Australia long term (up to a year) on a multiple-entry visitor visa is iffy. It may or may not be related to the political atmosphere, but in any country there's flexibility in how govt policies are actually executed. I could be mistaken, but I don't believe the ETA visa program is subject to all the levels of scrutiny you're describing (review, appeal etc). The Australian govt has given me nothing more to go on, so how can I appeal? It certainly could be an isolated instance, but so was my use of the 12 month visitor visa. Most people probably only enter once or twice, and don't use it to stay for a full year. I don't mean to discourage anyone from doing so or generalize about policy. Just saying this is what happened to me, and it is quite baffling.
  3. Of course I provided the address where I was staying, phone number, email, etc. on the customs card, answered all of their questions, and let them go through my phone, wallet; I had nothing to hide. The lesson here is that, if anyone is wondering if you can stay in Australia for a year on a 12 month multiple entry visitor visa (for up to 3 months upon each entry), then the answer is probably not, at least not under the current govt. On your 3rd re-entry you'll be flagged as suspicious and pulled aside, aggressively interrogated, and they'll use any excuse or inconsistency in your story to blacklist you (not a re-entry ban) from the ETA visa program. So if you try it, you'll have to have an absolutely air-tight reason for doing so, and I cannot even fathom what that reason would be since I was told the reason I was being blacklisted was the very definition of the purpose of the visitor visa as written on the Home Affairs website. I suspect the officer who interrogated me misspoke, or used imprecise language, when he told me this, but I have no doubt they'll use any excuse to justify blacklisting me, and probably don't even need to justify it. Maybe I was just unlucky, but it seems consistent with the many media reports about the current govt's reorganisation of the Home Affairs ministry to increase scrutiny of visas and immigration across the board.
  4. I did not "lie" to the officer. I was never asked about my relationship status. I merely said in response to "where are you staying in Australia" that I was "staying with a friend". Had they asked me about my relationship status, I would have told them. I was told that if I reenter on my current visa, i'll be detained. Yet on VEVO my visa status is still listed as "in effect" with no evidence of a re-entry ban. I was told that "staying with my boyfriend does not satisfy the requirements for a visitor visa." Yet the Home Affairs website clearly states a visitor visa is for the purpose of "visiting friends and family." Based on what I've read, under the current government's reorganization of the Home Office, genuine visitors are being denied entry with increasing frequency based on mere suspicion, and written complaints are simply ignored, as are requests for information about a person's visa status. I may yet write a letter of complaint, but I think a better avenue will be to write to my own govt and point out that this ETA scheme, which is supposed to be reciprocal for visa exempt agreements, is not being honored by the Australia govt. Of course, as a powerless person I don't expect anything to come of it, but there seems to be a growing chorus of discontent about the Australian govt gaming visa exempt agreements.
  5. Thanks for the responses. My visa runs typically last only 2-4 days, so I was not really surprised to get flagged as suspicious, perhaps suspected of working illegally. However, I was blindsided to have been treated so shabbily in the end. Clearly this officer was on a fishing expedition. I don't recall ever claiming I was single or giving any information about my relationship status at all when I applied for the 601 visitor visa. Partner visa is certainly an option, however, the $7000AU price tag is exorbitant, especially when there's no guarantee I'd get approved, and the 22 month waiting period. I've lived with my partner for 12 months now (9 months since 2018 plus about 3 months in 2014), but have no proof aside from a few pieces of mail, and a mobile phone bill. It seems like a non-starter at this point. I never really imagined that dealing with Australian border patrol could turn so ugly, so I never bothered to make plans about this. My next step will be to call IMMI and find out if i'm actually subject to a re-entry ban or banned from applying for future ETAs. The officer's conduct seems questionable, and it's as if he deliberately gave me false info to discourage me.
  6. I've been staying with my boyfriend in Australia on a 601 visitor visa (3 month limit) for 9 months. I've never overstayed and abide by all the rules of the visa. However, on coming back from my third visa run I got flagged and pulled aside for questioning. Apparently the border patrol agent didn't like my answers, so he had me go over to the desk where I was interrogated (rather aggressively), told "You know what this is about, right?" I had no idea. I answered all of his questions as truthfully as I could. He went through my phone and wallet (I had nothing to hide). Then he had me sit down and went out to question my boyfriend, who was waiting to pick me up. Finally, he came back and said our stories don't match because I said I was staying with my "friend", and he's actually my boyfriend. He said "living with your boyfriend doesn't satisfy the requirements of a visitor visa". Although they let me in one last time, I was told I was banned from applying for future ETA visas, had to apply to the embassy for future visas, and would probably have to wait 8 months. I was told if I try to come back on my current Visa that I'll be detained. I checked my Visa status today, and it still shows "in effect", and shows no evidence that I've been banned. I intend to call immigration on Monday in hopes of getting more information, but I'm wondering if anyone has ever heard of such a thing? Am I permanently banned or just a 3-year reentry ban? Would welcome any advice.
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