Label-free Australian student visas available for Chinese

13 April 2012

The Australian immigration department recently announced that from 1 April 2012, nationals of the People's Republic of China traveling to Australia on student visas will not need to have a visa label in their passport. Label-free visas allow for faster processing of visa applications.

The arrangements for a label-free visa have been agreed with the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China. Prior to these arrangements, the majority of visa holders from the People's Republic of China were required to have an Australian visa label in their passport in order to study in Australia. The new label-free visas bring China in line with other countries; Australian Immigration, New Zealand, the US, and UK immigration have all introduced label-free visas.

Australian immigration requires all airlines to check visas against departmental databases to ensure that a person holds an Australian visa before allowing them to board a flight to Australia. Once an applicant is granted a visa, the details are recorded in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship's (DIAC) computer systems. These details are then accessed by the staff of all airlines that fly to Australia at airport check-in counters.

DIAC will continue to issue all student visa holders with a grant notification letter informing them of the validity and conditions of their student visa. The notification letter is not in itself sufficient evidence that the student has been issued a visa holder and cannot be used in place of the electronic check at the Airline counter.

As the Ministry of Public Security has advised, they will only allow a person who has been granted a 'label-free' student visa to depart China when they depart:
Any student granted a label-free student visa to travel to Australia will not be able to transit through the Macau Special Administrative Region, by land or ferry, to board an onward flight in Macau or Hong Kong.

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