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Australia's visa policy aims to attract more Chinese visitors

Monday, 29 June 2015

Australia has introduced some new visa policies and adjust some others, which are expected to play an important part in welcoming more Chinese visitors to Australia, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash told Xinhua over the weekend before she departed for her six- day China visit on Sunday.

Part of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement signed earlier this month is the annual provision of up to 5,000 visa places for young Chinese nationals between 18 and 30 years olds in Australia' s largest capped Work and Holiday program.

"Set to commence in just a few months, this arrangement will provide young Chinese adults with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience Australia through an extended holiday, with the option of undertaking short-term work and study," Cash said in a telephone interview with Xinhua.

"The interest we've already received shows the Government and the Department have really hit the mark with this new scheme and have identified a brilliant opportunity to the benefit of both the Australian economy and Chinese nationals alike."

Also in June, the government announced a trial visa program to offer 10-year Visitor visa for Chinese nationals (with a maximum three-month stay provision) at a cost of 1,000 AU dollars (770 U.S. dollars) since 2016, aiming at repeat travelers.

Cash said the government realizes the enormous potential that exists within the growing Chinese market.

A Mandarin Visitor visa lodgment option will be developed and trialed in 2016. Australia already offers significant Chinese language support for visa lodgment, but this new initiative will make it even easier and more convenient for Chinese travelers wanting to visit Australia.

Yet another measure is the expansion of online lodgment for Visitor visas to Chinese and Indian nationals, with a full roll- out in China expected by the end of 2016, and India in 2017.

Further, in 2016 the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will trial a fast-track (48-hour) Visitor visa processing for Chinese tourists for a 1,000 AU dollar (770 U.S. dollar) fee, designed to attract high-value travelers who have the potential to inject substantial funds into the Australian economy.

"China is Australia's largest and fastest growing source of tourism and importantly these measures further simplify the Visitor visa application process, welcoming repeat visitors," Cash said.

"These new services will provide fast and flexible travel options to those who require them and will attract high-value travelers who have the potential to inject substantial funds into the Australian economy, in particular Northern Australia."

Announcements made last week was the government's Northern Australia White Paper, which aims to bring more investments and projects to the less developed northern part of the country, covering Northern Territory and northern parts of Queensland and West Australia.

Cash said two changes sure to be popular in the Working Holiday Maker space are the ability for all participants to extend employment by a further six months if they are working in certain industries in the north, allowing for a 12-month period of work with the one employer and, for Work and Holiday visa holders, the ability to acquire eligibility to apply for a second visa if they perform three-months' work in tourism or agriculture in the north.

"These two initiatives will provide a significant incentive for such visa holders to visit and work in Northern Australia as part of their 12-month visa and this is expected to result in substantial economic benefits," she said.

Cash said amendments to the Work and Holiday visa program and enhanced Visitor visa products will further foster cultural and tourism exchange while simultaneously facilitating growth in Australia's northern regions.

"The Coalition Government's much anticipated Northern Australia White Paper will unlock the immense potential in our northern areas and amendments to our visa programs will play an important role in this expected growth," she said.

"Migration programs have long played an absolutely vital role in Australia's social and economic success."

"These reforms are designed to capitalize on the enormous opportunities that are evident in the growing Chinese market while complimenting initiatives included in the Northern Australia White Paper."

Source: China Economic Net

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