DIAC have announced a series of changes to the fees being applied to new Temporary and Permanent Visa Applications from July 1, 2013.
Unlike previous changes that were usually applied to the Visa Application Charge (VAC) for a specific visa subclass, or to the fee related to sponsorship or nominations, the new charges are based on a completely new set of service fees. These include breaking down dependents into “Additional Applicants Over 18 of age” and “Additional Applicants Under 18 years of age. Previously, visa application charges were not applied to dependents under 18 years of age for both Temporary and Permanent visas. These charges appear not to replace the Secondary Visa Application charge applied to applicants without the required English language standard.
The other significant new charge is the “subsequent temporary application charge”. This new charge is too be applied to applicants in Australia seeking an additional Temporary Visa and is in addition to the standard Visa Application Charge that must be paid. Those effected are likely to be Students, 457 Visa Applicants, Working Holiday Visa holders making a 2nd application and others on temporary visas. The effect of this charge is to increase the cost of a visa application from between 78% for a single applicant making a second or subsequent 457 visa application to 130% for a student making a second or subsequent visa application. Where the applicant has dependents, the real increase will be substantially more.
The justification for these new charges according to DIAC is that they bring Australia’s visa process supposedly inline with those of the UK, Canada and the US. However, as the Subclass 457 Visa is one of the visas most effected by the changes, extra political factors may be present whereby financial pressure is being applied to employer through increased hiring and on-boarding costs. Furthermore other factors may also be present in what appears to be a ‘cash cow’ approach to a generally captive market such as the International Student sector especially given that the grant of these visa seldom covers the entire duration of the applicants proposed period of study.