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Take Note! Australia implements visa changes

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection has announced some changes that might impact on South Africans applying to travel to Australia.

Debit/Credit Payment now accepted at TLScontact South Africa

To assist applicants and agents in making visa application to Australia, all TLScontact Australian Visa Application Centres in South Africa will begin accepting debit and credit card payments for the visa application charge from 1 May 2017.

The debit and credit payment option is a safer, more efficient method of payment, where you or your clients will no longer be required to bring significant amounts of cash when lodging their visa application at TLScontact.

TLScontact will continue to offer the cash payment option at all locations.

Booking Biometric Appointments with TLS

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection has received a number of complaints from agents who are having difficulty booking appointments with TLScontact for their clients to provide biometrics, with some locations waiting up to a week before the next available appointment.

When booking an appointment through TLS and completing Step 1 – Form Filling, travel agents are advised to choose Biometric Enrolment when completing the Visa Type & Travel Purpose field. TLScontact uses two separate appointment schedules, with many more appointments slots available for those undertaking the quick biometric enrolment compared with the other options for those submitting full visa applications.

Watch out for these common Mistakes in Applications

Travel agents have been strong adopters lodging through the preferred method of online lodgement via ImmiAccount. This online lodgement portal will continue to be expanded to more visa types as part of the Departments’ digital transformation strategy.

While this online system has helped reduce the processing times for visa applicants, there continue to be several steps applicants and migration agents can ensure their clients application has been fully completed to further reduce these times.

Below is a list of the most common reasons for a delay in visa processing:

  • Biometrics not undertaken: The biggest delay in processing times for most visitor visa applications is due to the applicant not undertaking biometrics at a TLScontact Visa Application Centre within requested timeframe. Please encourage your clients to provide biometrics at the earliest opportunity.
  • Visa Validity vs. Period of Stay: A number of applicants and agents routinely confuse the visa validity (how long the visa for travellers is valid until) with the proposed period of stay (how long the applicant plans to stay in Australia for any one trip). Proposed periods of stay longer than 3 months will trigger health requirements for their application, which create unnecessary cost burdens and delay processing times while this is identified.
  • Under 18’s travelling without parent(s): Where children under 18 years of age intend to travel to Australia, any non-accompanying parent(s) or person(s) with parental responsibility are required to sign a consent form to give permission for the child/children. Form 1229: Consent to grant an Australian visa to a child under the age of 18 years must be completed and attached to the application. Form 1257 Undertaking Declaration must also be completed.
  • Health Requirements: most visa applicants are required to meet certain minimum health standards to be granted a visa. All permanent, provisional and certain temporary visa applicants are required to complete health examinations as part of the visa application process to determine if they meet the health requirement.
  • Over 75: visitor visa applicants over 75 years old will require to undergo a medical examination from the Panel Doctor and acquire Travel Insurance covering the period of their proposed stay in Australia. Please note that if the applicant intends to visit Australia for more than 6 months a chest x-ray will also be required.
  • Entering a Hospital: visa applicants who are likely to enter a hospital or health care environment which includes a palliative facility while in Australia will be asked to undergo full health examinations i.e. a medical examination and a chest x-rays with Australian Panel Doctors. This includes travelling to attend births or visiting unwell family and friends.
  • Undertaking Health Prior to Lodgement: if your client already knows that the visa that they want to apply for requires a medical examination, or they have a compassionate/compelling application and will be likely be entering a health care facility during their visit, travel agents should advise them to undertake their full medical examinations (medical and chest x-ray at our panel doctors) before lodging a visa application. This HAP number needs to be included on the on-line application under the question “have you completed a health care examination in the past 12 months.” The HAP number also needs to be given to the doctor when you make your appointment. More information and obtaining a HAP ID can be found at Health Declarations
  • Ensure all declarations are signed: Particularly for travel/migration agents please ensure Form 956 – Authorised Recipient has been completed in full.