The fee increases in respect of Australian onshore and offshore partner, spouse and prospective marriage (fiancée) visa applications have been criticised by Angela Chan, the National President of the Migration Institute of Australia (MIA), the professional association for Registered Migration Agents. On behalf of all members she has expressed their serious concerns about the 50% increase in Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) charges for partner visas, which came into effect on 1 January 2015.
The cost of an onshore partner visa has increased from A$4,575 to A$6,865 and those applying offshore for partner, spouse and prospective marriage visas will now have to pay A$4,630, up from A$3,085. Although the government has justified the increases on the grounds that the extra revenue will be used to ‘fund whole-of-government policy priorities’, Miss Chan has questioned this line of approach as being unfair to vulnerable groups and showing that the government are exhibiting a diminished interest in the importance of family immigration. Not only that, Miss Chan went on to say, but it clearly showed that the increases were ‘at odds with the concepts of fair play and respect in the Australian Values Statement which visa applicants are expected to embrace’ – a double standard on behalf of government policy makers.
Targeting the vulnerable
Sometimes immigration fees must increase but it is considered by the members of the MIA that this particular rise of 50% is unfair, as it targets people who have no choice but to find the extra money somehow or face being separated from their loved ones. The fee is raised across the board, with no regard given to the willingness or ability to pay of those at the end of the process. Miss Chan has made a heartfelt plea to the Australian government – ‘I would urge the Government to reconsider the proposed increase. It can only be seen as an easy option for revenue-raising without presenting a business case for the 50% increase.’