User-pays system under new visa pricing model
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
The Gillard Government will implement a new visa fee system to ensure taxpayers are no longer subsidising visa applications, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, announced today.
Mr Bowen said the significant changes included the introduction of a fee for dependants of visa applicants from July 2013.
'If people are bringing family members with them to Australia, the fee will reflect the additional processing and checks for these family members,' Mr Bowen said.
'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.'
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 per cent from 1 January 2012, increasing 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 per cent and 15 per cent.
In addition, some visa programs, 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.
Mr 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,' Mr Bowen said.
'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.'
More details will be made available in due course, including on the DIAC website, closer to when initiatives are implemented.
Last update: Tuesday, 29 November 2011 at 11:29 AEST