Fast-tracked access to Australian visitor visas for 51 more nations

blog photoFifty one countries and regions have been added to the eligibility list for electronic lodgement of Visitor visa (subclass 600) applications from 9 May 2014.
Citizens from 124 countries can now benefit from lodging online to holiday in or visit Australia.
For those who are eligible, travellers to Australia will find the process of applying for a Visitor visa faster than ever.
Online access to these visas is being progressively expanded to all countries.
To check if your country is on the eligibility list, or for more information about online lodgement arrangements for the Visitor visa (subclass 600), see our Visitor visa page:

Celebrating Australia’s migrant heritage—the Welcome Wall

This guest post was written by the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Standing in honour of all those who have migrated to Australia is the Welcome Wall. Located at the Australian National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour in Sydney, the 100 metre bronze panelled wall currently has more than 25 000 names inscribed on it, representing 206 countries.

It is a powerful monument and a place to record personal data, share stories and create Australian social history. It is a national project and people who have arrived anywhere in Australia or live anywhere in Australia can have their name added. The Brown Family and the Semathini Family have recounted their migration story and shared their reasons for wanting their names inscribed on the Welcome Wall.

Twice a year the museum unveils the new names with a special ceremony. It’s an emotional event where you can learn about the migrants and their stories. Last year, 61 former British child migrants from the Fairbridge Farm school who served in the Australian Defence Force were honoured. The isolated, rural Fairbridge Farm school operated child migration schemes for underprivileged British children near Molong in New South Wales from 1938 until 1974, during which time about 1000 boys and girls attended the school. Parents were persuaded to sign over legal guardianship of their children, on the promise of a better life in Australia.

Since 1945, more than seven million people have travelled across the seas to live in Australia—making it one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. In Australia today, one in four people was born overseas or has a parent who was born overseas.

The Welcome Wall tells stories of people who struggled against poverty and those who struck it rich. There are stories of involuntary migrants such as convicts from the First Fleet, unaccompanied migrant children in the Big Brother Movement, post-war refugees and migrants of more recent arrivals choosing modern Australia as a place to settle.

To find out more about the Welcome Wall visit

Emergency Alert—being aware this summer

This guest post was written by the Attorney-General’s Department.

Are you travelling to Australia this summer? Did you know that emergency services in Australia have an emergency telephone warning system they may use to warn people if there is a disaster nearby?

Emergency Alert sends voice warnings to landline telephones and SMS text warnings to mobile phones based on the physical address of the owner and the location of some mobile phones at the time of an emergency.

If you are an international visitor to Australia (using global roaming on your phone) and you’re in an area threatened by a bushfire, cyclone, flood, or any other kind of disaster, you may receive a telephone warning from emergency services advising you of the emergency and what you should do next. This will depend on the networks with which your mobile phone provider is affiliated in Australia.

Do not rely solely on receiving a telephone warning—emergency services in Australia have a number of ways to warn communities of a disaster, and an Emergency Alert warning may not always be used. Be aware of conditions and seek further information from radio, TV, and emergency services websites.

Remember, for urgent Police, Fire or Ambulance assistance in a life threatening or emergency situation, call Triple Zero (000).

Further information about Emergency Alert, including fact sheets and DVD videos in other languages, is available from

No visa label? No worries.

The Australian Government does not require a person holding a valid Australian visa to have a label in their passport to travel to, enter or remain in Australia.

We started reducing the reliance on visa labels over 15 years ago, when we introduced the ‘label-free’ Electronic Travel Authority system for visitors. Now, millions of people every year travel to Australia without a visa label.

We continue to lead the move towards online services. For a long time now we have issued electronic visas linked to passports, making travel to Australia hassle-free. International commercial airlines and cruise ships verify that passengers have a valid visa before they travel to Australia, generally at the time of issuing a boarding pass.

Visa holders are still given the option of requesting a visa label if other countries require it for transit or exit purposes. From 24 November 2012, a charge for a visa label of $70 AUD was introduced for this non-compulsory service. A visa applicant will only be able to request and pay for a visa label after their visa is granted. Certain exemptions will apply.

Once granted a visa, clients can check their visa details and entitlements online, anytime, anywhere, using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online service, also known as VEVO. VEVO is a free service that lets visa holders and organisations (with the visa holder’s permission) see details of current visas.

No matter what visa you have, if your employer or education provider wants to see proof that you are eligible to work and study in Australia, you can encourage them to register for access to VEVO to see your current visa details and work or study entitlements.

Visit our website for more information about your visa and VEVO.

SkillSelect for employers Facebook live chat

If you’re an employer and have a question about how SkillSelect can help you find overseas skilled migrants, or you would like to find out more about SkillSelect, join us on Friday 28 September between 10.30–11.30am AEST to chat with First Assistant Secretary of the Migration and Visa Policy Division, Kruno Kukoc.

While Kruno can’t respond to questions unrelated to the live chat, including individual case enquiries, he will be able to answer general questions about how SkillSelect enables employers to quickly and easily identify potential skilled workers with the skills and attributes needed for their business.

To join in, you need to ‘like’ the department’s Facebook page.

Twitter users can also join our live chat by tweeting @SandihLogan.

Protecting overseas workers from exploitation – update on sponsor monitoring activities

Australian workplace laws apply universally to all. In addition to these workplace protections, temporary overseas workers have an additional protective framework embodied in the Migration Legislation Amendment (Worker Protection) Act 2008 (the Worker Protection Act) sponsorship obligations.

The vast majority of sponsors are compliant; however, there is a comparatively small number of sponsors who inadvertently fail their sponsorship obligations, and even fewer who are recklessly unscrupulous.

In addition to sponsor monitoring officers, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) also has a highly trained, dedicated inspectorate of 38 officers who maintain a keen eye on sponsors of temporary overseas workers in order to protect them from exploitation. An inspector’s role is to gather information, investigate and assess matters relating to a sponsor’s compliance with their sponsorship obligations under the Worker Protection Act.

DIAC has commenced monitoring on 1398 sponsors; issued breach notices to 270; officially warned 188; and sanctioned 75, which means to 29 February this financial year, we have barred or cancelled sponsorship to a not insignificant number of employers doing the wrong thing.

In addition to administrative sanctions, we also have the power to serve infringements and take civil action; already in the last eight months we have issued 37 infringements to a value of more than $186 000, and filed two applications in the Federal Magistrates Court against sponsors for failing their obligations to their visa holders. Other cases are pending.

During the monitoring process, we also work collaboratively with other agencies. For example, if we uncover issues that fall within the responsibility of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), we either collaborate with, or refer cases to their inspectors for full investigation to ensure compliance with workplace laws. DIAC and the FWO are also working together to help visa holders understand their legal rights when working in Australia. In December we jointly released a fact sheet about workplace rights, specifically for overseas temporary workers. It is available at

Skilled visa options for Australia

Australia’s skilled migration program aims to meet the needs of the Australian labour market and strengthen our economy. Skilled workers in occupations in demand can help fill job vacancies which cannot be filled by an Australian resident worker. This video provides a brief overview of Australia’s skilled migration program.

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For more information, visit the department’s website.

Skills Australia Needs events in Berlin and Athens

The Department will host Skills Australia Needs information sessions on October 6 in Berlin, Germany and October 8-9 in Athens, Greece.

These information sessions will provide an opportunity for skilled workers in Germany and Greece to hear about skilled visa options and possible sponsorship and employment opportunities in Australia.

Skills Australia Needs events help address current skill shortages in areas of occupational demand in Australia, particularly health care, engineering and select trade occupations.

The department has staged these events for a number of years in various countries to provide information to skilled workers about skilled visa options for Australia, with a focus on matching skilled workers with Australian state and territory governments and employers in target occupational areas.

To be eligible to attend these events, interested skilled workers must have qualifications and experience in one of the occupations targeted, a high level of English language ability and be under 50 years of age.

Australian employers in the fields of health care, engineering or specified trades with current job vacancies they are unable to fill through the Australian labour market, who are interested in attending are encouraged to visit the department’s website to register their interest.

More information about the Skills Australia Needs events for both skilled workers and employers is available on the department’s website:

Skills Australia Needs information evenings

Recognising the contribution that skilled migration makes to meeting critical skills shortages in Australia, the Department works with state governments and employers to promote skilled migration through events like Skills Australia Needs.

The event
The most recent Skills Australia Needs event was held in London in June 2011. The objective of the event was to bring together workers in areas of critical skills shortage with Australian state and territory governments and employers to facilitate employer sponsored migration.

The event was highly targeted towards critical skill shortages in Australia in the fields of healthcare, engineering and selected trades. Skilled workers were selected and invited to attend based on work experience and qualifications sought by Australian employers and state and territory governments. Australian employers attended the event and had the opportunity to talk directly with pre-screened skilled workers about job vacancies in their organisation where skilled Australian workers were not available to fill the positions.

An example of a skilled migrant bringing their skills to Australia after attending a Skills Australia Needs event is posted below on 27 June and shows the positive and real outcomes that come from events like these.

Why the UK?
In 2009–10, the United Kingdom was the largest overall source country for skilled migrants, accounting for almost 20 per cent of Australia’s skilled migration program.  It was the:
• largest source country for construction tradespersons and nursing professionals
• second largest source country for automotive tradespersons, electrical tradespersons and medical practitioners
• third largest source country for science, building and engineering professionals.

State Migration Open Days
The event coincided with the State Government Migration Open Days held in Birmingham on 4 June and Bristol on 11 June 2011, jointly hosted by the ACT, NSW, SA, VIC, and WA governments. The deliberate ‘bundling’ of DIAC and state government events provided the opportunity for employers to access a larger pool of skilled workers across the United Kingdom, therefore maximising the value of their visit.

What was the result?
Feedback from employers, state and territory governments and skilled workers indicates that the London information evenings have been a success, with a considerable number of jobs and state sponsorships being offered as a result.  Indeed, employers remain overwhelmingly supportive of future DIAC-led events, indicating that over 100 initial job offers were made during the event.

For Australian employers (particularly within the fields of engineering, health and trades industries) who are interested in attending future DIAC-hosted events, please contact your local Outreach Officer.

Checks and balances – Monitoring 457 employer sponsors

As the 457 program rapidly grew over the period 2003-2007, concerns mounted over the exploitation of overseas workers and the undermining of local wages and conditions. Australian newspapers frequently splashed stories about unscrupulous sponsors abusing the 457 visa program and exploiting their visa holders. The vast majority of these cases involved trades’ level 457 visa holders with little or no English languages skills, and who often lacked the technical skills they claimed.

To focus sponsors on their responsibilities to their overseas workers, and to strengthen the integrity of the program, in September 2009 the Government brought in the Worker Protection Act 2008. The essential message the legislation embodies is this – sponsors must ensure that overseas workers have the same terms and conditions for the same job in the same workplace as Australian workers. There must be no exploitation and no excuses for underpaying overseas workers.

The legislation also provides decision makers here in the department with additional powers and options for taking action against sponsors found to be failing their obligations. Be assured that when sponsors inadvertently, recklessly or sometimes systematically abuse and/or exploit their visa holders and the program, we can and do take action.

How do we do this?

To assess whether our 18 500 active sponsors are satisfying their obligations, we monitor sponsors. Sometimes we commence monitoring on the basis of an allegation, and sometimes we may instigate a sector-based campaign, but generally, we adopt a risk based approach to initiating monitoring. We’ve got a dedicated network of officers around the country, including 27 inspectors who have enhanced monitoring powers – this means that they can require documents from sponsors, and if those documents are not supplied, we can initiate civil action against the sponsor. Our officers talk to sponsors, gather information, and analyse the information to assess whether a sponsor is meeting their obligations.

During the monitoring process, we also work collaboratively with other agencies. For example, if we uncover issues that fall within the responsibility of the Fair Work Ombudsman, we refer specific matters for their attention. Similarly we refer matters to work place safety agencies, and the Australian Tax Office as required.

If through monitoring, a sponsor is found to be failing their obligations, a decision maker can bar or cancel a sponsor from the program, infringe the sponsor and/or take legal action against the sponsor.

How many sponsors have you sanctioned?

In 2010-2011, the department sanctioned 137 sponsors, and warned 453 sponsors. The majority of these sanctions have been applied as a result of sponsors failing to provide equivalent terms and conditions of employment as they would to an Australian or permanent resident employee. Additionally, in the last 18 months, we have issued 12 infringements to 12 sponsors, and are considering civil action against a few sponsors at the moment for serious failures of their sponsorship obligations. Watch this space!

What are the department’s future plans in the area of monitoring?

We intend to sharpen our focus on campaign based monitoring in the coming months, commencing work in particular industry sectors. We will also be looking at sponsors other than 457 sponsors, to assess whether those sponsors are satisfying their sponsorship obligations.