There have been some important changes made recently to the way Australian visa services will be delivered in China. Effective 10 September 2012, all family migration applications, including prospective marriage visas (subclass 300), provisional partner and spousal visas (subclass 309) must be lodged according to the new procedure outlined below.
There are now Australian Visa Application Centres (known as AVACs) in Beijing and Shanghai as well as a number of regional visa processing centres across China, which will be responsible for conducting an initial review and forwarding complete applications to the appropriate Australian visa-issuing posts with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of normal and legal residence in China. These centres are being opened to simplify the process of applying for a fiancee or partner visa. The new procedure is designed to speed up the application process and will also result in fewer applications needing to be re-submitted because of errors.
The Australian Visa Application Centres in Beijing and Shanghai will be operated by VFS Global Pty Ltd and will accept visa applications from individuals wishing to join their partner or spouse in Australia. The AVACs will also be able to collect the visa application charges and give the ability to track the progress of an application online. This service will be particularly useful to applicants who previously had no access to any means of finding out the status of their case.
Although it is early days as yet, it is already clear that the introduction of Australian Visa Application Centres will lead to a far more streamlined visa application system through giving the applicants easier access to information and clearer processing. Having a dedicated centre for this important procedure means that the examining DIAC officials will have to spend less time on conducting routine application checks. This will make the whole process more comfortable for the applicants and their Australian partners.
At the same time, the creation of the visa processing centres across China will have a similar effect of making the whole system run more smoothly and also with more consistent results. Whenever centres for this kind of process are consolidated into dedicated offices, the result for the applicant is always positive – visa personnel are more experienced so fewer errors are made and decision-making at early stages is of a much higher quality. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is very confident that applicants across the region will see a very real improvement in the Australian visa application process.
The changes are simple to understand and will have little impact on visa applicants in Beijing and Shanghai who will still lodge visa applications locally. Applicants who live in the Guangzhou catchment area should continue to lodge their applications directly with the local Australian Consulate in Guangzhou.