Pursuant to the signing of the Aus/Sino FTA, a recently introduced online lodgement facility for visitor visas from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has produced the first successful visa grants.

The following has been taken from a media release from Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash:

‘This pilot is an important step in making Australia an even more attractive destination and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to boosting opportunities for Australia’s tourism industry,’ Minister Cash said.

‘Given the volume and importance of the Chinese caseload, the rollout of online lodgement for the visitor visa in China will be implemented initially through a pilot utilising online lodgement via a limited number of agents.’

Minister Cash said that while the current trial was limited to low risk cohorts to ensure programme integrity is maintained, the Department is progressively extending online lodgement for visitor (subclass 600) visas with the aim to extend to all nationalities by the end of 2015.

Minister Cash said that in 2013-14, for the first time, more visitor visas were granted to Chinese nationals than to any other country in the world.

‘Given that the PRC is now the largest source country for visitor visas, with more than 550,000 granted in 2013-14, the introduction of online lodgement will make Australia an even more attractive destination for visitors from China in particular,’ Minister Cash said.

‘Further, at current growth rates, it is anticipated that by 2018 one million applications will be received each year from Chinese nationals wishing to visit Australia.’

The electronic visa pilot follows recent initiatives which showcased the strong bilateral relationship between China and Australia.

‘The strong relationship between Australia and China continues to flourish, with recent announcements including a Work and Holiday Arrangement, negotiated alongside the China Australia Free Trade Agreement, to commence in 2015,’ Minister Cash said.