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Migration Legislation Amendment (Cessation of Visa Labels) Bill 2015

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2013-2014-2015

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MIGRATION LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (CESSATION OF VISA LABELS) BILL 2015

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection,

the Hon. Peter Dutton MP)



Migration Legislation Amendment (Cessation of Visa Labels) Bill 2015

 

OUTLINE

The Migration Legislation Amendment (Cessation of Visa Labels) Bill 2015 (the Bill) repeals the Migration (Visa Evidence) Charge Act 2012 (the Charge Act) and amends the Migration Act 1958 (the Act) to repeal provisions relating to visa labels which no longer have any practical effect.  The amendments are consistent with the government’s regulatory reform agenda.

 

Since the commencement on 1 September 2015 of the Migration Amendment (Visa Labels) Regulation 2015 , there is no longer any obligation on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to issue visa labels to a client at the client’s request. 

 

The amendments made by the Bill complete implementation of the government’s policy of label free visas and online digital verification of visas, by removing provisions in the Act relating to the requirement to issue visa labels.

 

Specifically, the amendments repeal the Charge Act and amend the Act to:

·          repeal the definitions of visa evidence charge and visa evidence charge limit ;

·          repeal Subdivision AE of Division 3 of Part 2 of the Act, which contains provisions dealing with the evidence of visas; and

·          make technical amendments to omit references to repealed Subdivision AE of Division 3 of Part 2 of the Migration Act.

 

financial impact statement

 

The financial impact of the Bill is low. Any costs will be met from within existing resources of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

 



 

Migration LEGISLATION amendment (CESSATION OF VISA LABELS) B ILL 2015

 

notes on individual clauses

 

Clause 1          Short title

1.               This clause provides for the Bill, when enacted, to be cited as the Migration Legislation Amendment (Cessation of Visa Labels) Act 2015.

Clause 2          Commencement

 

2.               This clause provides that clauses 1 to 3 commence on the day on which the Bill receives the Royal Assent, and that Schedule 1 commences on the day after the Bill receives the Royal Assent.

Clause 3          Schedules

3.               This clause is the formal enabling provision for the Schedule to the Bill, providing that legislation that is specified in a Schedule is amended or repealed in accordance with the applicable items of the Schedule.  Schedule 1 to the Bill repeals the Charge Act and amends the Act. 



 

 

SCHEDULE 1 - Cessation of visa labels

 

Part 1 - Repeal of Act

 

Migration (Visa Evidence) Charge Act 2012

 

Item 1             The whole of the Act

 

4.                   This item repeals the Charge Act. 

 

5.                   The major change to the visa label environment occurred in 2012, with the enactment of the Charge Act and the Migration (Visa Evidence) Charge (Consequential Amendments) Act 2012 .  The main intention behind the Charge Act was to encourage clients to reconsider their need to have a visa label.  The package of amendments had the effect that visa labels were no longer compulsory, but could be obtained where requested (for example, for personal reasons) and upon payment of a visa evidence charge.  From 2012 to 1 September 2015 further measures were taken to decrease the demand for visa labels, including by increasing the visa evidence charge. 

 

6.                   On 1 September 2015 the Migration Amendment (Visa Labels) Regulation 2015 amended the Migration Regulations 1994 (the Regulations) to repeal Division 2.4 of Part 2 of the Regulations.  This had the effect of allowing the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to cease issuing visa labels. 

 

7.                   The repeal of the Charge Act is one of the final steps in the implementation of the government’s policy of transitioning to label free visas in 2015, and online digital verification of visas.  As the changes effected by the 1 September 2015 amendments to the Regulations (mentioned above) ceased the ability to request and pay for evidence of a visa, the Charge Act no longer has any practical effect.  As such, its repeal is in accordance with the government’s regulatory reform agenda.

 

8.                   While the repeal of the Charge Act and consequential amendments to the Act (mentioned below) are to remove inoperative provisions, they also form part of longer term amendments to cease provision of visa labels and undertake more of the department’s business online, thereby avoiding unnecessary expense, delays and inconvenience for clients and third party stakeholders.

 

 

Part 2 - Amendments

 

Migration Act 1958

 

Item 2             Subsection 5(1)

 

9.                   This item repeals the definitions of visa evidence charge and visa evidence charge limit in subsection 5(1) of the Act, consequential to the repeal of the Charge Act.

 



 

Item 3             Subsection 33(10)

Item 4             Subsections 34(3) and 35(4)

Item 6             Subsection 78(3)

 

10.               These items repeal references to Subdivision AE of Division 3 of Part 2 of the Act, consequential to the repeal of that Subdivision by item 5, below.

 

Item 5             Subdivision AE of Division 3 of Part 2

 

11.               This item repeals Subdivision AE of Division 3 of Part 2 of the Act.  As a consequence of amendments to the Regulations on 1 September 2015 which repealed provisions relating to visa labels, Subdivision AE is no longer operative.  That is, there is no longer anything prescribed in the Regulations pursuant to any of the provisions of Subdivision AE, with the consequence that the Subdivision no longer has any function to perform. 

 

12.               The purpose of the repeal is to make clear the government’s long-term intention that there is no longer any obligation to issue a visa label on application from a client.  That is, the amendments complete implementation of the government’s policy of label free visas and online digital verification of visas, by removing inoperative provisions in Subdivision AE of Division 3 of Part 2 of the Act.



 

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

 

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

 

MIGRATION LEGISLATION AMENDMENTS (CESSATION OF VISA LABELS) BILL 2015

 

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the Bill

 

The visa evidence charge, which was introduced on 24 November 2012, was a charge imposed on a visa holder who formally requested evidence of a visa in the form of a visa label affixed to their valid travel document.

 

However, the Australian Government does not require persons holding valid Australian visas to have a label in their passport in order to travel to, enter or remain in Australia.  All Australian visas are granted electronically and linked to a visa holder’s current passport or travel document.

 

Departmental systems are the preferred way of verifying a visa holder’s authority to travel to, enter, remain, work or study, and conduct other activities in Australia.  Digital systems provide accurate, secure and real-time visa information, reflecting any changes that may have occurred since the grant of the visa.

 

Changes effected to the Migration Regulations 1994 by the Migration Amendment (Visa Labels) Regulation 2015 on 1 September 2015 ceased the ability of visa holders to request and pay for evidence of a visa.  Consequently, visa labels are no longer provided to visa holders.  The amendments made by the Bill complete implementation of the government’s policy of label-free visas and online digital verification of visas, by removing provisions in the Act relating to the requirement to issue visa labels.

 

Australian visa holders now access their visa details and conditions online using the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) and the myVEVO mobile app free of charge. With a visa holder’s permission, third party stakeholders, such as Registered Migration Agents, employers, financial institutions and education providers, can also check visa information online using VEVO. Airline staff use the Advance Passenger Processing system to confirm a traveller’s authority to travel to and enter Australia.

 

Offshore refugee and humanitarian visa holders and those who do not have, or cannot obtain, a travel document recognised by the Australian Government are currently being issued with the Australian Migration Status (AMS) ImmiCard, an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) compliant machine-readable official travel document (MRtd). A small number of visa holders in this cohort continue to be issued with a Document for Travel to Australia (DFTTA), and will continue to require a label until the staged roll out of the AMS ImmiCard is completed.  These will be facilitated and not be dependent on a request by the client.

 



 

The Migration Legislation Amendment (Cessation of Visa Labels) Bill 2015 (the Bill) repeals the Migration (Visa Evidence) Charge Act 2012 (the Charge Act) and amends the Migration Act 1958 (the Act) to repeal provisions relating to visa labels.  The repeal of the Charge Act and associated amendments to the Act comprise the final steps in the implementation of the government’s policy of transitioning to label free visas in 2015, and online digital verification of visas. 

 

The Charge Act and empowering provisions in the Act relating to visa labels no longer have any practical effect.  The amendments are therefore consistent with the government’s regulatory reform agenda.

 

Human rights implication

 

The department has considered the Bill against the seven core international human rights treaties to which Australia is a party.  It is considered that it does not engage any of the applicable rights and freedoms.  The Bill contains amendments to repeal the Charge Act and to repeal related provisions in the Act which no longer have any practical effect from 1 September 2015.

 

Conclusion

 

The Bill is compatible with human rights as it does not raise any human rights issues.

 

 

 

 

 

The Hon. Peter Dutton MP

Minister for Immigration and Border Protection

This material is provided to persons who have a role in Commonwealth legislation, policy and programs as general guidance only and is not to be relied upon as legal advice.  Commonwealth agencies subject to the Legal Services Directions 2005  requiring legal advice in relation to matters raised in connection with this template must seek that advice in accordance with the Directions .