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Some visa application charges to rise



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M e d i a R e l e a s e

Th6 ΗΟΠ. Philip Ruddock MP Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

Minister for Immigration-and Multicultural Affairs Telephone: (02) 6277 7860 Facsimile: (02) 6273 4144

MRS 80/99 SOME VISA APPLICATION CHARGES TO RISE

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, said increases in some visitor visa application charges will ensure that the additional costs of entry for visitors from high-risk countries is not borne by the Australian taxpayer.

As unveiled in last night's budget, the off-shore visitor visa charge for nationals of countries that cannot access the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) will increase from $50 to $60 from 1 July 1999, The fee for on-shore applications will rise from $145 to $170.

Mr Ruddock said visitors from non-ETA countries have significantly higher non­ return rates and significantly higher rates of breaching their visa conditions.

"While the non-return rate of visitors to Australia from ETA countries is currently 1.03 per cent, the non-return rate for visitors from non-ETA countries is almost five times higher at 5.2 per cent.

"Furthermore, the non-return rate of people from high-risk countries is a staggering 1 3.6 per cent.

"This disregard for Australia's visa requirements imposes a significant burden of cost on the Australian taxpayer. In 1996-97 the Government spent some $50 million locating, apprehending and removing such individuals.

"The $10 increase in the visitor visa application charge will offset the higher average cost to the Government of visa processing in non-ETA countries following extension of the ETA to Hong Kong and Taiwan in July 1 999.

"These are large visitor volume countries which require less bona tides checking and less compliance follow-up work than most non-ETA countries."

Mr Ruddock said the on-shore fee increase will encourage people to apply for the correct visa off-shore in the first instance.

"The $60 off-shore fee is broadly in line with fees charged for short-term visitor visa applications by a range of other competitor tourism countries.

"Even with the fee increase, Australia will remain amongst the lowest taxing destinations for international tourists.

"Based on our experience following the introduction of the $50 visa application charge, it is not anticipated there will be any drop in application numbers as a result of this measure".

ENDS Tuesday, 11 May 1999

Media Inquiries: Brad Robinson (02) 6277 7860 or 0419 278 715