Why the Australian Visa Application Charge disparity

Why the Australian visa application charge
disparity? Why are tourist visas $135.00 and partner
visas $6,865.00? Remember the old days of Government services
being seen as “public service”? I vaguely do. These days
it’s all “user-pays”, with the thinking being that those who use a service should pay for
it and those who don’t should not be paying for those who do. And there is a certain logic to that. There is a cost factor in
provision of Government services, and that obviously includes the cost of protecting
Australia’s borders and a visa application charge for your fiancee
from the Philippines could logically be included in that
thinking. Why should your neighbor be subsidising you
and your wife? However, ten years ago in 2006 these were
the costs of Australian tourist visa and Australian partner
visa VAC’s (Visa Application Charges): Tourist visa: $70.00
Partner visa: $1,340.00 Now:
Tourist visa: $135.00 (ie 92% increase) Partner visa: $6,865.00 (ie 512% increase) Partner visa fees rose steadily, until a Mr
Abbott and a Mr Hockey (thank goodness we didn’t end up
with Abbott and Costello…..it could have happened!) had trouble getting a budget through
and needed some revenue. The principal of user-pays went out the window,
and they made no secret of the fact that they wanted to find a way to make some
revenue. So they cranked up the cost of partner visa
applications not once but twice in the one year! Tourist visas? They increased in fees by $5.00! Why are partner visa applications so expensive? Partner visa applicants are what you would
call a “captive market”. No one is going to give up on the
love of their life because the fees went up. Compare those fees with the thought of staring
at empty walls for many years ahead of you, and it’s
not even a question. Tourist visas? If they increased the fees by 512%, the Aussie
tourism industry would collapse. The tourist
industry lobby would have them for breakfast! No one really cares if Bob from Adelaide has
to sell his car to pay for a visa application. It is how it is. And we all know that even if you voted in
Bill instead of Mal, there will be no price drops. Are tourist visa applications easy? Yes, they are easy if you wish to lodge a
bare-bones application that will probably be refused. And you
can do just that. Prepare it yourself, lodge it and pay for
it online, and you will have a decision in a few
weeks to a month. But It might not be the decision that you
want. We’ve had this discussion many times on the
BLOG page about how tourist visa applications are not as
simple as they may appear to be on the surface. Most people with refusals are absolutely shocked
when they occur. They assumed that it was like the application
for the new drivers license. Fill it in. Pay the
fee. Walk out with the license. The DIBP (Immigration) website makes it look
like it’s almost a formality. And I guess it would be if there weren’t people
from the Philippines and other poor countries who want
to get into Australia at all costs, and are highly unlikely to follow the rules and to
leave at the end of a holiday. When you think about it, it probably costs
a lot to administer tourist visa applications by the
numbers who disappear and work on the black market, whereas the partners just get married
and make great families that make Australia a better
place. Yet the tourist visa fees remain low. Does that mean a preparing a tourist visa
application is 1/50th of the work of a partner visa? Shouldn’t
Down Under Visa be charging, say, $100.00 to manage, prepare, lodge and monitor a tourist
visa application for you? I would say it’s probably about 1/4 to 1/5
of the work of a partner visa, so what we charge for our efforts is pretty reasonable. And those clients of ours who keep coming
back for more visa applications obviously think so. And those who tried themselves and failed
(sometimes 3 or 4 times!) most definitely think our fees are
a bargain, especially after we deliver a visa grant for them. And
isn’t that what it’s all about after all?

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