THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT has decided to increase the amount it charges immigrants for working visas.
The move has been taken in the hope it will raise revenues by $520.5 million over the next four years.
However, the decision has been criticised by the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF), which believes regional areas will lose out as a result because visitors will have less disposable income when they arrive – if they arrive at all.
In his mid-year budget review, Treasurer Wayne Swan said he would increase the cost of Visa Application Charges as applied to skilled graduates, partners, working holiday makers and temporary overseas workers from 1 January 2013.
From that date, the cost of a working holiday visa will go up from $280 to about $360 – a 28 per cent increase.
“It’s wrong to assume people will keep coming regardless of the cost,” said TTF chief executive John Lee. “Instead of coming to Australia as a working holiday maker they will go somewhere else.
“And let’s not forget, people applying for working holiday maker visas have to prove they have $5,000 and a return plane ticket, so they’ve already made a massive commitment.
“The strong Australian dollar makes a difference too, with a UK backpacker now having to save over £3,200, against £2,000 five years ago, while Europeans and Americans have to save 35 per cent more. Why do we want to make it even more difficult for them?” concluded Lee.
VisaFirst.com has advised that the price of partner visas will rise from $3,060 to $3,400. Applicants for the popular 457 visa, which allows people to work in Australia if they are sponsored by an employer, will now have to pay $450 instead of $350.