From July 1, 2017, all Indian passport holders will have the option of lodging Visitor visa applications online -- a move which will see faster processing of visitor visa applications in India, and will also give the applicants the ability to monitor the status of their applicaiton.
The Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Alex Hawke, said the online application option would make applying for Australian Visitor visas easier and ultimately enhance the visitor experience for Indian citizens.
Already, Indian applicants can lodge Sponsored Family Visitor, Student, Temporary Work, Training, Temporary Activity, Partner, Prospective Marriage, Resident Return and Maritime Crew visa applications online, and visitor visa will be added to this list on July 1, 2017.
“Indian nationals wishing to visit Australia will soon be able to apply for a Visitor visa in a more convenient and accessible manner,” Mr Hawke said.
“Online lodgement for visitor visa applications is a significant enhancement that will benefit Indian applicants seeking to visit Australia as tourists or business visitors, or those wanting to reconnect with family and friends.”
A DIBP spokesperson told SBS Punjabi that "applicants will no longer have to travel for hours to lodge a hand-written form for visitor visas. They can now complete the whole application online."
This move comes on the back of hundreds of complaints from Indian nationals wishing to travel to Australia and facing inordinate delays in obtaining visitor visas. SBS Punjabi had reported on this in May 2017, with complaints contintuing to trickle in about long delays in processing (see article links below).
According to DIBP, with the rising popularity of Australia as a holiday destination, there has been a significant rise in demand for Australian visas in India.
"In the first four months of 2017 alone, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection granted more than 65,000 Visitor visas to Indian nationals."
With the online service available to Indian nationals from July 1 onwards, it is expected that the visa process will be streamlined and will deliver far better outcomes to Indian nationals wishing to travel to Australia.
"Online lodgement offers benefits such as 24/7 accessibility, electronic payment of the visa application charge and the ability to check the status of applications lodged online, all through the Department’s ImmiAccount portal."
"Being able to check the status of an application online, as soon as it is finalised, will allow Indian applicants to finalise their travel arrangements as soon as possible, confident that they have first obtained the necessary visa for their visit."
Responding to SBS Punjabi's query, of how long electronically lodged visitor visas may take to process, a DIBP spokesperson said, "The current processing times for Visitor (Tourist stream) visas range from 48 hours to more than 20 days, depending on a range of factors, including peak processing periods in certain locations and overall growth in the number of applications received."
"Applications that are lodged electronically, as well as those that provide all required information and supporting documentation at the time of lodgement, are generally processed quicker than incomplete applications or applications requiring further information."
Furthermore, the spokesperson shared som data about visitor visa lodgements in India, for the last three years, They indicate a significant increase in the number of visitor visa applications from India, year on year.
Visitor applications lodged by Indian citizens
2016-17 (to 31/05/17)