The Department of Immigration and Citizenship is changing its charging structure. A new visa fee structure came into effect on January 1 2012, with increases being rolled out over the next 18 months.

Minister for Immigration Chris Bowen claims that the move is necessary, stating that:

"these changes will bring Australia's visa application charge structures in line with comparable countries. The user-pays approach means that taxpayers will no longer need to subsidize visa applicants."

The increases are expected to generate around A$613 million over the next four years.

Furthermore, from July 2012 an increase in line with the consumer price index will apply to most visa application fees and a surcharge will be introduced for optional services, such as visa labels.

Other changes occurring from July 2013 will affect applications for longer duration visas and for those seeking further visas while in Australia.

There will be no change to visas for:

  • refugee and humanitarian visa applicants;
  • citizenship applicants;
  • postgraduate research students; or
  • Australian sponsoring businesses.

However, changes are expected for applicants who add on additional family members, longer duration visas and paper applications where there is an online option.

In addition, as of January 1 2012 the visa application charge (VAC) for student visas fell by 5% and the VAC for over 20 visa subclasses increased by between 10% and 15%. The current visa subclasses with VAC changes are as follows (all fees are in Australian dollars).

For further information on this topic please contact Anne O'Donoghue at Immigration Solutions Lawyers by telephone (+61 2 9264 6432), fax (+61 2 9264 6437) or email ([email protected]).