Surcharge added on credit card payments for Australia visas

by Ray Clancy on March 19, 2014

in Australia, Australia Immigration, General Information

People paying for visas in Australia and from abroad by credit card will be subject to a surcharge from this weekend.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) confirmed that it will apply to all clients paying for visas and other related services from Saturday 22 March.

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The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will introduce a surcharge on all credit card payments from 22 March 2014

Applicants paying online and at a departmental office will be subject to the charge but the amount has not yet been made public.

‘The department will introduce a surcharge on all credit card payments from 22 March 2014. More information, including surcharge rates by card type will be available soon,’ said a DIBP spokesman.

All visas must be paid for in advance and normally if the application is unsuccessful or withdrawn the fee is not refunded. It is not clear yet if the surcharge will also not be refunded.

This added cost comes on top of higher visa application charges which were introduced in September last year. The DIBP spokesman pointed out that the cost of visas change from time to time. ‘The cost of your visa is dependent on the date we receive your application. If there is a price increase between the date you lodge your application and the date we receive your application, you will need to pay the new application charge,’ he explained.

He also pointed out that a visa application is not valid until the department receives the total first instalment of the visa application charge.

‘If less than the correct total amount is paid, we cannot commence the processing of your visa application until the correct amount is received. If there is a gap in time before you pay the correct amount, this might impact on your eligibility for the visa. The price might also rise in the interim and you will need to pay the new amount,’ the spokesman said.

‘If you pay by credit card, you must have enough funds to pay the total amount of your visa application charge at the time that we process the payment for the transaction to be successful. This might be some time after we receive your application,’ he added.

The decision to charge for credit card payments comes at a time when companies are supposed to be reducing unreasonable credit card surcharges. According to MasterCard, Australian consumers have been hit with $800 million in credit card surcharges over the last 12 months.

The Reserve Bank announced reforms to stamp out unreasonable credit card surcharges but consumer group Choice said that the figures from MasterCard suggests that so far this has not worked.

According to MasterCard, the main offenders are airlines, taxis, major hotels and utility companies. Choice says that people can choose whether or not to use a specific taxi firm or hotel but when it comes to paying for a visa there is no alternative.

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