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Changes to Australian visas

The Australian High Commission in South Africa has announced there have been some changes to the Australian visa process in South Africa, including the fact that some visa applications will need to be done online from 19 November onwards.

The High Commission is also in talks with TLSContact to improving services in South Africa by increasing the number of available appointments and enhancing the call centre.

Visa applications move online

As part of its Future Directions for Streamlined Visa Processing, the Australian government has announced it will introduce new visa subclasses for temporary activity from 19 November 2016. Applications for these visas must be lodged online through an individualised immiAccount. No paper temporary activity visa applications will be accepted by TLScontact or the Australian High Commission.

TLScontact will also stop accepting the following applications from close of business on Wednesday 16 November 2016:

Subclass 401 Temporary Work (Long Stay Activity) visa

Subclass 402 Training and Research visa

Subclass 416 Special Program visa

Subclass 420 Temporary Work (Entertainment) visa

Subclass 488 Superyacht Crew visa

 

Further information regarding the changes can be found at http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/temporary-activity-visa-changes#

TLScontact improves service

The Australian High Commission has also advised that it is working with TLScontact to improve the ease of scheduling appointments.

A number of travel agents have reported they have been unable to make appointments at some centres or get through to TLScontact via telephone and email.

The Australian High Commission encourages all applicants and agents to book appointments online via https://au.tlscontact.com. TLScontact have increased the number of appointments available each day at all South African VACs, which has resolved availability issues. Furthermore, TLS have introduced a live operator option on the Call Centre service and is working on reducing wait times.

 

Please remember Standard Processing Times

The number of visa applications received by the Australian High Commission Pretoria triples during September, October and November as applicants seek to travel during the holiday period.

The current processing times for visitor visas is 30 days. Travel agents should advise their clients not to make non-refundable travel/airline bookings in anticipation of the grant of a visa within this timeframe. The Australian High Commission recommends clients lodge their visa application well ahead of their proposed travel dates and only finalise any travel arrangements after the visa process has been completed.

We are able to expedite visa processing where there is an urgent need to travel due to compassionate or compelling circumstances, please refer to: http://southafrica.embassy.gov.au/pret/Immi_Urgent_Travel.html

DHA: New Zealand visa restriction unfortunate

The South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has described the decision New Zealand to enforce a visa restriction for South Africans, as unfortunate, “given the vast improvements to DHA systems over the years”.

DHA Spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete says the department has noted the decision by the government of New Zealand to introduce visa requirements for all South Africans wishing to travel to that country from 21 November, 2016.

“The Department will consider a response and communicate once it has been concluded.”

Currently South Africans qualify for a visa on arrival, however starting 21 November, travellers will need to acquire a visa at NZ$165.00 (about R1 637.07) when applying before 21 November 2016. From 21 November, the cost for paper applications will increase to NZ$184. The cost for applying online will however remain unchanged at NZ$165.

Travellers wanting to apply for a visa are urged to allow for an estimated six-week processing time for visa applications.

When announcing the change in the visa regime, the New Zealand embassy cited the issue of increased number of individuals trying to enter the country with either “counterfeit or fraudulently obtained South African passports”.

“We are committed to creating an immigration system that actively welcomes and encourages legitimate visitors to New Zealand, but at the same time is able to prevent those who do not meet immigration requirements”, say Immigration New Zealand (INZ) General Manager Peter Elms.

For more information about the New Zealand visas for South Africans, click here