MANILA, Philippines - After June 1, the Australian government can no longer guarantee swift decisions for visa applications for the upcoming World Youth Day this July.
In a statement on its website, the Australian Embassy reminded delegates to the World Youth Day to apply for a visa, a requirement for entering Australia.
"The Australian Government cannot guarantee applications lodged after 1 June 2008 will be decided in time for applicants to travel to Australia," it said.
World Youth Day 2008 will be held July 15 to 20 in Sydney, Australia. It is said to be the largest international youth event this year.
It will also mark the first visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Australia, with various events planned for visiting pilgrims.
"All international WYD participants will need a visa to enter Australia for the event," Australia said.
The Australian government earlier agreed that visas for WYD pilgrims will be free of government charges, and will allow a standard stay of three months with multiple entry to Australia.
WYD visa will be either an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) or Tourist visa depending on the pilgrim's passport.
"In order to be eligible for a visa free of Australian Government charges you will need to be registered for WYD and have your registration supported by your local bishop. The WYD individual registration process will provide you with a comprehensive information pack, including visa application information for entry to Australia," it told pilgrims.
But Australia also reminded pilgrims that to be eligible for a visa free of Australian government charges, there are requirements to be met, including:
* Evidence that you have registered for WYD; and
* A letter of endorsement from your local bishop.
It also said the granting of a visa for WYD is not automatic, and that each application will be assessed on its own merits against the criteria for grant. Registered pilgrims who do not meet these criteria will not be granted a visa.
"Pilgrims who are not registered with WYD are not eligible for a visa free of Australian Government charges but are welcome to apply for a visa through normal processes," it added.
Although there is no visa application fee for a visa application to attend World Youth Day, a service fee will be charged by the Australian Visa Application Centre, it added.
It said additional charges apply for courier services. Payment by credit cards is not accepted.
"If you wish to lodge an application in person at the Embassy you will need to make an appointment through the PIASI Call Center. Please note that due to the high demand for appointments it may be a few weeks before an appointment can be scheduled. You can lodge your application at the VIA Center, however, at any time during business hours without an appointment, it said. -GMANews.TV