Business and family visa applicants face higher visa charges in 2012

by Ray Clancy on November 29, 2011

in Australia Immigration

Introduction of significant changes to visa fee system

The Australian government is to introduce significant changes to the visa fee system to ensure taxpayers are no longer subsidising visa applications, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, has announced.

Bowen said the changes mean applicants paying more and includes the introduction of a fee for dependants of visa applicants from July 2013 for the first time.

‘If people are bringing family members with them to Australia, the fee will reflect the additional processing and checks for these family members,’ Bowen explained.

‘These changes will bring Australia’s visa application charge structures in line with comparable countries. The user pays approach means that taxpayers will no longer need to subsidise visa applicants,’ he added.

Currently, the application fees charged to people wanting to come to Australia do not cover the cost to the Commonwealth of processing the applications. The changes are projected to generate about $613 million over the next four years in revenue.

There will be no change to humanitarian visas as part of the new application fee structure.

Student visa application fees will also decrease by 5% from 1 January 2012 as part of an attempt to increase the competitiveness of Australia’s international education sector.

At the same time, fees for a range of Skills and Business visas will increase by between 5% and 15%.

In addition, some visa programmes, such as the overwhelming majority of visitor visas, will be unaffected by the move to user pays to ensure there is no impact on tourism.

From July 2012 a CPI increase will also apply to the majority of visa application fees and a surcharge will be introduced for optional services such as visa labels.

Other changes to take effect from July 2013 will affect applications for longer duration visas and for those seeking further visas onshore.

Bowen said to encourage the use of online applications, there would also be an additional charge for people making a paper based application where there is an ‘e’ visa option.

As part of the changes, improvements will be made to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s IT network.

‘We need to maintain our IT development with online applications and biometrics collection and checking. These initiatives will put Australian visa services on a sustainable financial footing, while supporting our position globally as a destination of choice to visit, live, work or study,’ added Bowen.

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