Australia has announced that it will invest 30 million dollars in its visa system. This has led to intense criticism from the Labour party. The news comes as a great surprise because Australia has been planning to privatise a large part of the visa system for a while now.
Australian visa system
Australia is known for its strict visa policy. Migrants are confronted with an extremely long application process, which can often take years. For tourists and business travellers, Australia has made various visas available, including the ETA Australia and the eVisitor visa. These are both electronic visas which can be acquired online. Due to its lower cost, the eVisitor Australia is the most applied for variant and is valid for 12 months. It can be used to stay in Australia for up to 3 months, provided the visa requirements are observed. The government of Australia is particularly strict with this; it has happened before that travellers are denied access to the country if any foul play is suspected. This travel ban can last several years.
Privatising and outsourcing
Australia has set itself the goal of privatising a large part of its visa system. This would supposedly lower the workload for a government that has repeatedly made the news due to extreme delays regarding visa applications. However, the plan has also led to a storm of criticism. People fear that this will lead to more automation, and that the quality of service will depend on the financial means of the applicant.
A potential consequence is that migrants won’t be able to pay the fees, and might try to apply for a tourist visa to travel to Australia, and then switch it to a permanent visa once they’ve settled in Australia. The Australian government has said that there are no plans to privatise the whole visa system, and that decision making regarding visas will likewise not be outsourced. The government will always maintain control over the functioning of the visa system which decided who does and does not qualify for an Australia visa.
Fattening the hog
The Australian Labour party has accused the ruling parties of “fattening the hog” before it is brought to the market. According to Andrew Giles, foreman of the opposition regarding immigration, the previous 80 million investment a few years back was already more than enough to update the system. This new investment of 30 million is, according to Giles, purely meant to make the system more appealing to companies, and not meant to actually improve it. The government insists that the investment is necessary for Australia to keep up with the rapidly changing market. It will lead to the Australian visa system remaining competitive, relevant and that it will safeguard the national security.
Australia visa application
Despite her strict visa policy, Australia remains a very popular holiday and work destination. This has various reasons. For (temporary) workers Australia is an attractive choice because the wages are a fair bit higher compared to other countries. Although this comes at the cost of higher prices for food and accomodation, smart budgeting can allow you to save up a decent chunk of money. This is then taken back to the home country.
But another prominent reason is the Australian visa system. Because the country gets so many migrants, both tourists as well as workers and refugees, it has a large array of specific visas. This means that every travel purpose has its own special visa. For example, tourists can make use of the eVisitor Australia, which can be applied for quickly and easily online. People that want to work in Australia during the summer can make use of the popular Working Holiday Visa. This way, Australia has a visa for just about every travel purpose, and the chance of a visa application being denied is therefore relatively small, provided the traveller has good intentions.