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DIAC visa labels go electronic

More and more of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) services no longer involve the physical exchange of paper forms, letters or visa labels. This reflects a government-wide move to make more services available online and make them more accessible and convenient to use.

In November 2011, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship announced changes to the department’s visa pricing arrangements to support these initiatives.

Visa labels in particular, have not been required in Australia for some time. Labels are no longer routinely printed and physically placed in passports. Instead, online checking provides more timely and secure information as to the entitlements of a visa holder.

In late 2012, there will be a charge of AUD70 to have a label put in a passport. This is expected to further make visa labels in passports the exception rather than the rule. Australia bound international commercial airlines and cruise ships verify with Australian authorities that passengers have an Australian visa before they travel to Australia. This verification is conducted through the electronic travel systems, generally at the time of issuing a boarding pass.

DIAC s view is that in Australia, anyone with a legitimate need for information about a person’s visa entitlements can find it on the department’s Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service. Organisations with a valid ABN such as employers, educational institutions and government bodies can view key information relating to entitlements of visa holders, including the right to work. Visa holders can also gain access to their visa entitlements using VEVO.

In 2012-13, enhancements to VEVO will include:

• providing registered migration agents with more comprehensive details of a visa holder’s current entitlements

• enabling all visa holders to access VEVO using their visa grant number or visa evidence number without having to contact the department to get a password

• improved self-service password reset functionality for organisations

• a PDF print option for visa holders required to provide evidence for their visa status to third parties (for example, real estate agents and mobile phone providers)

• enabling organisations and visa holders to access VEVO using mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets and other portable devices.

These enhancements will provide registered migration agents with a more efficient registration process and the latest details for a client, assisting them to provide accurate advice and information about which products or services would best suit their client’s needs.

VEVO is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Migration agents can get access to VEVO by registering with the department.

Courtesy of DIAC

Administrators note:

Visa holders should be aware that regardless of the reasons for not requiring visa labels in Australian passports, governments of other countries may require you to have a visa label to transit through or indeed depart from their country. To be on the safe side visa holders should check with the relevant government authorities to confirm their transit or exit requirements.

Despite DIAC’s desire to be regarded as cutting edge in its approach to e-systems in the search of accessibility and convenience, the risk of inconvenience in the event of IT fault or computer error is real- a point recognised by DIAC in its own visa label FAQs when advising that visa holders carry a copy of their visa grant notice ‘ for your own reference’!

VEVO is a good system to allow employers check that visa holders are legal even though legally they need the visa holder’s permission. Not giving that permission is a bit of a give away!