The Department of Immigration and Citizenship announced that starting January 2012, a new system of paying for visas will be introduced.

Something Old.  A vast majority of current visas for visitors will remain the same such as those arriving on an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) and visitors from the European Economic Community.  Refugee and humanitarian visa applicants; Citizenship applicants; Postgraduate research students  and Australian sponsoring businesses.

 Something New. New student visa applicants will see a reduction in visa application charges. Other changes will be progressively introduced over the next 18 months, subject to normal legislative processes.

 Something borrowed.  Instead of a one visa application charge for the principal applicant and eligible family dependents, Australia will follow the example of other countries, notably the United States, Canada and the by charging visa fees for each applicant  called the per person via application charge structure.

 Something blue.  DIAC said that Australia’s current visa pricing system “targets anomalies and inconsistencies,” and intends to “ close the gap between visa access charges and the estimated costs of administering visas.”  The net result is expected to improve the integrity of the visa system.

 Which visa classes will change in January 2012?

The Visa Application Charge (VAC) for student visas will decrease by five per cent from 1 January 2012. The VAC for a small number of visa classes will be increased between five to fifteen per cent. DIAC announced the the list of visa subclasses that will change from 1 January 2012.

 What other changes are proposed?

Some anticipated changes include charges for:

§  applicants who include additional family members

§  longer duration visas

§  paper applications where an online option is available

§  optional services, such as visa labels, which are not required by Australia.

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