The Australian government has announced that Indians can apply for a visitor visa online starting July 1, PTI reported on Monday.
Australia’s assistant minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Alex Hawke, said the online application option would make applying for the country’s visitor visas easier and “enhance the experience” for Indians, for whom Australia has become increasingly popular as a holiday destination. Around 65,000 Australia visitor visas were granted to Indian nationals in the first four months of 2017.
The online procedure will offer benefits like 24/7 accessibility, electronic payment of the visa application charge and the ability to check the status of applications lodged online – all through the immigration department’s Immi Account website. Hawke said this would allow Indian applicants to “finalise their travel arrangements as soon as possible”.
Acting Australian High Commissioner to India, Chris Elstoft, said that processing times for these visas will also be faster, as both applications and supporting documentation are immediately available to the processing office, reported ANI. He said that there had been more than 2,65,000 Indian visitor arrivals between July 2016 to March 2017, an increase of 15.4% compared to the same period in 2015-’16.
Australia had on April 18 abolished its 457 visa programme to tackle the unemployment problem in the country. “We are an immigration nation, but the fact remains: Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The move is likely to affect Indians, who are among the majority of the temporary foreign workers who use the visa programme.