On 15 March 2016, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) introduced new provisions that allow priority processing of visitor visa applications for Chinese nationals. This program is being run as a trial for the moment, and may expand to include applicants of other nationalities at a later date.
The following are further details:
- The priority processing is only available to passport holders for the People’s Republic of China
- The request for priority processing is only available for applicants of the Visitor Visa Tourist or Business Visitor streams
- The fee for priority processing is A$ 1,000 in addition to the original visa application fee
- The method to request for priority processing differs according to your visa application lodgement method
While you can request for priority processing, there is no guarantee that the visa will be granted quickly. The DIBP repeatedly reminds you that the finalisation of the visa application also depends on factors such as the applicant meeting the health and character requirements. You cannot ask for a refund of the priority processing fee unless the visa application fee is refunded.
Therefore it is best that you prepare all necessary documents and complete all health and character checks before requesting for the priority processing.
Comments by Chris Johnston – Principal Lawyer and Registered Migration Agent at Work Visa Lawyers
The introduction of the priority processing looks positive in encouraging more visitors from China. It also demonstrates the improving bilateral ties between Australia and China. The option of priority processing may also facilitate travel plans for tourists and business visitors from China.
However it will be interesting to observe if the normal processing timeframe gets slower, inevitably forcing more applicants to choose the priority processing option. Furthermore the additional A$ 1,000 spent on applying for a visa may be perceived as a barrier to visit Australia, and may also reduce the amount of travel allowance available while visiting Australia. This means that the spill-over benefits to local Australian businesses and vendors will be reduced.
This information is accurate on 24 March 2016
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