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Visa charges to increase from 1 January 2013

The Australian government will substantially increase charges across a range of visas to take effect from 1 January 2013.

Detailing the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (“MYEFO”), Treasurer Wayne Swan has announced that the hiked fees are intended to bring in an extra $143m this financial year.  That target is to rise as high as $169m for 2015 – 16.

The government has confirmed visa charges will rise as follows:
·         457 visa visas from $350 to around $455;
·         Working holiday visas will increase from $280 to around $360;
·         Partner visas (onshore subclass 801 and 820) up from $3,060 to around $4,000; and
·         Partner visas (offshore subclass 309 and 300 up from $2,060 to around $2,700.

The charges represent an increase of between 25 – 33%.
Working holiday visas and 457 visas are among the two main working visas used by Irish nationals to come to Australia.
Acting immigration Senator Kate Lundy said the government made a targeted increase in the cost of visas where there are high levels of demand.

Lundy made comment that:

·         “The fact is that there are plenty of people around the world who want to work in Australia because of our substantial economic strengths during these times of global economic uncertainty – it is only appropriate for visa costs to reflect that demand.”
·         “Most of these increases are for visas that provide valuable opportunities for people to work in Australia, whether it’s through the 457 programme, working holiday visas or the sought-after work rights for skilled graduates. We don’t, therefore, expect demand to be adversely affected by these changes.”

Announcing MYEFO, Swan said that he was cutting the nation’s forecast budget surplus to $1.1bn, down from $1.5bn.
Mr Swan described the decisions taken in the MYEFO as “difficult but critical at a time of falling revenues and ongoing global headwinds”.

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