KUALA LUMPUR: It’s “no worries” travelling to Australia these days – the up to two-month wait time for a tourist visa has been halved with red tape scrapped and procedures simplified.

It now takes up to four weeks for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) temporary visa to be issued to Malaysians, with a smartphone app introduced for applicants to submit information.

A Digital Passenger Declaration or providing evidence of vaccination status is no longer required.

Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Dr Justin Lee (pic), who disclosed this, said the ETA assessment processing period for Malaysians was expected to be further reduced.

“Due to the ongoing high volume of applications, we still recommend applying early – at least four weeks in advance of travel.”

From Feb 19 to July 15, he said 43,774 visitor visas had been granted to Malaysian passport holders outside Australia.

“We are pleased to be welcoming these travellers back to Australia,” he told The Star.

Lee said the ETA app made it convenient for applicants to scan their passports and submit photographs, providing an improved user experience through a simple, secure, convenient, fast and flexible platform from a mobile device by automating several steps within an ETA application.

“Notification of the result of an application lodged through the ETA app will be received within 12 hours.

“If an application requires further information, a letter will be sent via email with instructions to complete an online form through ImmiAccount,” he said, adding that instructional videos were available on the Department of Home Affairs website homeaffairs.gov.au.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong had said during her recent visit here that she was aware of the delays in visa approvals for Malaysians, adding that the High Commission was working hard to overcome the backlog of applications.

Malaysian applicants had also complained of strict requirements such as the need to provide bank records.

Malaysians are among the select passport holders eligible to apply for an ETA to travel to Australia to visit family or friends, go on holiday or undertake business visitor activities.

ETAs allow visa holders to stay in Australia for up to three months per visit and are valid for a year. Multiple entries are permitted.

Lee said other visa options were available to Malaysians who needed to travel to Australia regularly.

“ETAs are just one of many visas available to Malaysians. Other visa options may actually be more suitable for certain types of travellers.

“Malaysian business visitor travellers may wish to consider a Visitor (Business Stream) (subclass 600) visa. These visas can be granted with a validity of up to three years, meaning you don’t have to reapply for a visa every 12 months.

“The Apec Business Travel Card (ABTC) is another option, providing businesspeople faster and easier entry to the Asia Pacific region.

“It allows for a stay period of up to 90 days in Australia, provides fast track entry and exit lanes at major airports and is valid for five years from the date of issue,” he added.

Australia’s borders reopened to all fully vaccinated visa holders, including international tourists, on Feb 21.

Malaysia remains the eighth source country for short-term visitor arrivals Down Under.