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27 June 2013
Australian industry bodies have criticised the Australian government for its decision to impose hefty new visa fees from 1st July 2013. They say that the new fees are unfair and may damage the Australian education and tourism industries. The government announced in 2011 that it intended to introduce new visa charges to try to raise $613m over four years but the level of the new fees was not revealed until 14th June 2013.
Among the changes are
A spokesman for Australian immigration told the Irish Echo that the increase in the 457 visa fees was a deliberate attempt to reduce the attractiveness of employing foreign workers on 457 visas. He said they were intended to 'strengthen the integrity of the subclass 457 programme' and to 'encourage employers to seek skilled employment locally before seeking to sponsor workers overseas'. This is likely to cause disquiet across Australian industry.
Spokesmen for the Australian educational and tourism industries complained that the introduction of the $700 fee for those applying for a new visa from within Australia are likely to damage the Australian education and tourism industries.
Peter Holden, a director of TAFE (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Directors Australia said that the changes were 'a disaster' and said 'it puts us at a distinct disadvantage with other countries'.
Another education industry figure protested that the industry had not had been consulted about the level of the new fees. Sue Blundell of English Australia, a body for English language schools, said 'We have been absolutely blind-sided'.
But Sue Blundell of English Australia told The Australian that, in the nine months to March 31 2013, 44,528 former student visa holders applied for a tourist visa or a second student visa from within Australia. She said that the students were 'important to the international education and tourism industries' and were 'threatened by the new punitive regime'. She said that the new fees would 'do incalculable damage to international education…and to local tourism'.
Phil Honeywood of the International Education Association of Australia said the fees were 'another impediment to international students seeing Australia as a competitive destination'.
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