Catching our attention is a chilling story that may herald increased checks on the popular Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) visa. A Syrian-born British woman, Zarah Ramadani, had her application for an ETA approved, then revoked with no explanation. Zarah went to check-in for her flight with her valid ETA, but was then informed that her approval had been overruled. She proceeded to apply for an E-Visitor visa instead, but was swiftly confronted by an application form vastly different to that of her travelling companion.
Application forms for Australian visas can change, or ask for further details according to answers given in various sections of the forms – it’s an automated mechanism to ensure that where the Department of Immigration is going to require more information, it is included in the form. Zarah believes the answer she gave that altered the information required in her application form is that she was born in Syria. Zarah’s Bahrain-born companion did not face the more pervasive application process.
The incident is a reminder that immigration policy can be a dark horse of government executive powers, with swiftly-changing rules and regulations often not publicised due to national security concerns. While visas have standardised application processes, the information required to grant every individual their visa can be highly subjective and may also be different from visa to visa.
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