Friday, December 13, 2013

Contributory Parent Visas for Australia

Reuniting families and ensuring that they can live together is one of our most important jobs at It's vital that you get your application right first time and provide all of the paperwork the authorities require to ensure that you don’t waste time that you could be spending with your loved ones. has a global network of offices, with branches based in the world’s top immigration destinations. This means that we’re likely to have an office near you, and we also have an office in Sydney to provide local support based on global knowledge. We know how reassuring it is to put a face to a conversation, so we offer in-person meetings at our offices and regularly keep in touch throughout your case to make sure that your application is progressing as it should. 

Are You a Contributory Parent?
There are two options within Australian parent visas; contributory, and non-contributory. Contributory parent visas have far more visa places available each year and contributory parents have to make a much higher contribution to future health and welfare costs. However, non-contributory parent visas have a processing queue of up to 15 years and are not recommended as an immigration option.

In addition to proving a family link to your child in Australia, Contributory Parent Visas require:
  • That your child is over the age of 18
  • That your child has been a permanent resident of Australia for at least 2 years
  • That you meet standard health and character requirements
  • That you provide an Assurance of Support

An Assurance of Support is a legal document that states your assurer will repay any benefits paid to you by Australia. This money may be held in a bond for up to 10 years. 

While there are no age restrictions on this visa, and visa holders can work in Australia, applicants must meet the 'balance of family' test. This requires the applicant to have an equal or greater number of children living in Australia than in any other country. 

The cost of this visa and necessary contributions/bonds vary according to the type of parent. The options are Contributory Parent, Contributory Parent (Migrant) and Aged Parent – your consultant will ensure that your application is submitted under the correct category.

What Does This Visa Provide?

The Contributory Parent Visa provides passage to Australia so that you can join your adult child(ren) anywhere within the country. The temporary visa is valid for 2 years, and it can’t be extended or renewed, but you can then apply for the permanent Contributory Parent Visa at any time. It also provides a pathway to Australian citizenship if you fulfil the requirements.

If you choose to apply for a permanent Contributory Parent Visa, you will benefit from:
  • A shorter application process
  • A reduced visa charge when lodging the permanent application
  • No re-assessment of ‘family balance’
  • No further health checks
If you do not apply in time, or submit an incomplete application, you will not receive these benefits.

Distinguished Talent Visas for Australia

If you’re at the top of your game and known around the world within your industry, the Distinguished Talent Visa was created as your route to Australia. This visa is an unusual pathway to immigration, and provides a way for the world’s foremost artists, sportsmen, academics, and businessmen to live in Australia. 

Why Apply for a Distinguished Talent Visa?
This visa is used for long-term immigration to Australia, and lets you continue your career within Australia, study, and even apply for citizenship once you have achieved the further requirements.
Distinguished Talent Visa holders can: 
    - Live and work in Australia on a permanent basis
    - Study in Australia at school or university
    - Receive subsidised healthcare
    - Access some social security payments
    - Be eligible for Australian citizenship
    - Sponsor people for permanent residence
As you can see, the visa offers a range of fantastic benefits to holders and is extremely flexible on what you can and can’t do in Australia.
What are the Requirements? Nomination
Getting a nomination is an essential part of this visa. While there are criteria for you to fulfil, your nominator must also show that:
    - They have a national reputation in the same field as you
    - They can personally vouch for the your achievements and their standing in that area
The nominator can be an individual or an Australian organisation, but they must provide a compelling account of why they believe you have an ‘exceptional and outstanding’ record of achievement.
This visa typically requires more preparation that a temporary work visa application and you will need to present a variety of documents to build a good case for the immigration authorities.
While documentation may vary according to your field, applicants are typically asked to submit:
    - Certified or notarised copies of qualifications, awards, and certificates
    - Certified or notarised copies of unabridged birth certificates
    - Health examination results
    - Police clearance certificates
    - Nomination approval from the DIAC
    - A resumé that is current at the time of application
As this is an unusual visa, less formal documentation is often added to show proof of distinguished talent. Luckily, the immigration authorities will accept internet pages and sites as supporting documentation for your application. 
Proof of ‘Distinguished Talent’
To fulfil this visa’s requirements, you must build a case to show that your talent and prominence within the industry fulfil the following requirements:
    - International achievement: you must be well known internationally (within your field). Achievements must also be far-reaching and routine rather than one-offs. Most applicants need to supply a lot of proof for this particular requirement as publications and news items have to be collated from numerous countries and on an ongoing basis.
    - Current prominence: you must still be working in their field and considered current in your practice. Anybody who has not been active in their area for more than 2 years will not be considered current.
    - Asset to Australia:  your talents must be considered a benefit to Australia as a whole, not just your nominator and yourself. While this does not need to be an economic benefit (social and cultural benefits are considered), you do have to provide a case for why you would benefit the community within Australia.
    - Employability: you must show why you’d have no difficulty in obtaining employment, or explain how you plan to support yourself in Australia. This could include presenting contracts or offers of employment related to your field, or evidence of self-employment.

More Investment Options for Australian Significant Investor Visa Programme

The Australian government has expanded investment options for significant investor visa applicants, according to an announcement made by Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash on 29 November 2013.

The additional investment options include annuities issued by an Australian registered life insurance company, derivatives used for portfolio management and non-speculative purposes, loans secured by mortgages over other permitted eligible investments, and bonds, equity and other corporate debt in companies and trusts.

Among the government's efforts to reboot the significant investor visa programme to ensure it produces the best possible outcomes for Australia, the expansion of the list of complying investments through eligible managed funds is expected to provide greater investment flexibility to applicants under the programme. 

"The government is working closely with the financial services industry and other stakeholders to offer greater flexibility and investment choices to enhance the attractiveness of the significant investor visa for investment migrants," said Senator Cash. 

"The government believes that people who create business, people who risk their capital, people who go out every day and create jobs from their own efforts and from their own enterprise are vital to our national interest," she added. 

The significant investor visa, a new stream within the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (Subclass 188) visa and the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) (Subclass 888) visa, is designed to facilitate migration of foreign investors who are willing to invest AUD5 million into approved investments for a minimum of four years. Since its launch on 24 November 2012, 65 significant investor visas have been issued, with more than AUD325 million in complying investments. 

If you are interested in Australian visas, contact Migration Expert for information and advice on which visa is best suited to you. You can also try our visa eligibility assessment to see if you are eligible to apply for a visa to Australia.

Israelis now Eligible for Australian Visitor Visa Online Application

It is now much easier for Israeli citizens to visit Australia thanks to an immigration change made by the new Federal government to allow Israelis to apply for a visitor visa online.

From 14 November 2013, Israeli citizens will have online access to visas for short-term visits to Australia, according to Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash.
With the addition of Israel to the list of eligible countries for electronic lodgement of visitor (subclass 600) visa applications, Israelis have joined 72 other nationalities in benefiting from the ability to apply online for the visa category. 

"For people seeking to visit Australia as tourists, for business visitor activities or to visit friends or family, the subclass 600 visitor visa is one of the most popular options, with grants in the tourist [non-electronic travel authority] category increasing about 14 per cent in 2012-13," said Senator Cash. 

"Citizens of Israel will find the process for applying for a visitor visa for travel to Australia faster than ever. Online access to these visas is being progressively expanded to all countries," he added. 

If you are interested Australian visas contact Migration Expert for information and advice on which visa is best suited to you. You can also try our visa eligibility assessment to see if you are eligible to apply for a visa to Australia.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Development of a new Consular Strategy 2014-16

With the number of Australians travelling and living overseas at record levels, there is increasing demand for the Government to deliver extensive consular support and assistance.

There is no “right” to consular services, nor is there any legislative requirement for the Government to provide those services. It is accepted practice that governments help their citizens abroad in certain situations. If Australian officials overseas, in consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, provide assistance to an Australian – for example if they have been in an accident, have been victim of crime, or if their friends or family in Australia are concerned about their whereabouts – this is a consular “case”. The number of such cases varies each year, but at any given time, the Department is managing around 1,300 active cases, some of them highly complex and protracted. Consular officials also provide advice and assistance to many thousands of Australians for less complex matters that are more quickly resolved and provide notarial services for Australians and for others requiring documents for Australian purposes.

DFAT officers around the world are generally recognised as delivering a professional standard of service, which is efficient, responsive and available to Australian citizens globally 24 hours a day. But with demand for consular services rising and government budgets under pressure, it is timely to consider trends and discuss their implications.

The key questions to be covered in the Consular Strategy include:
  • What are the public expectations for consular services? Are expectations and services mismatched?
  • Is there scope to improve the delivery of services, for example through greater use of digital services?
  • Is there scope to deliver travel advice in more effective ways, for example through online and social media?

Issues for consideration
Scope and availability of consular services
Who should be able to access consular assistance?
At present, Australia is among the most generous providers of consular services, especially in comparison to our closest consular partner countries (Canada, UK, NZ and US). For example, Australia offers full consular assistance to permanent residents and to dual nationals, even when they are in the country of their other citizenship. In some cases, we have provided significant consular assistance to Australians who have not lived in Australia for many years.

What consular services should continue to be delivered and what services could be reduced or withdrawn?
When Australians are involved in criminal proceedings abroad, helping them and their families is a critical but time-consuming aspect of the consular role. In 2012, these cases represented ten per cent of all consular work but absorbed more than 50 per cent of the time spent on consular matters by our overseas posts.

Such cases are by nature complex, but changing current policies and practices could allow resources to be directed to cases where help is needed most. This might include reducing the frequency of prison visits or attendance at trials and other court processes. In both cases, consular officers would need to be equipped to exercise judgement to enable service levels to be tailored to the most vulnerable clients.

Should consular services be varied according to local circumstances and according to the capacity of the individual to cope?
At present, consular assistance levels are uniform across the world. For example, individuals in North America and Europe receive the same assistance as individuals in Africa, even though local service standards may be very different. Should we shift resources so that more assistance can be provided to clients who need it most: those who are most at risk because of who or where they are? This will mean asking clients elsewhere to be more self-reliant as we focus our resources on places where standards are lower and where Australians need more assistance.

Are there specific areas and/or demographic groups in which there is a mismatch between client expectations and services?
Young travellers are significant users of consular services: the “25 and under” age group has the highest number of cases. This could indicate that younger travellers (or their parents) are more likely to seek out consular assistance in circumstances that could often be described as non-critical. For example, during the closure of the Bangkok’s international airport in November 2008 due to political unrest, many Australian travellers were inconvenienced by travel disruption, but younger Australians were the most demanding and most likely to make unreasonable requests of consular officers. Many younger travellers have commented to consular officers that they have a “right” to consular assistance, regardless of the circumstances. A key question is whether this reflects the attitude of this particular demographic group alone or poorly targeted public messaging more generally.

Is there scope for DFAT to improve the consular services it provides so that clients can get help when they really need it and receive the right kind of service?
Australians often look for advice and help from the Department when they are going to travel or live overseas. There may be value in giving Australians more choice in how they contact us, for example by telephone or digital means, or by better signposting services to other government services. A wider virtual presence, through increased use of social media and digital tools such as Twitter and Facebook, could improve clients’ access to information and services. This might also include a Smartraveller app for Android phones to increase access to travel advice or Twitter accounts with hash tag specialisation for high-traffic regions (i.e. “SmartravellerBali”). The key issue is whether such initiatives would profoundly increase the public’s use of travel advice or understanding of the consular role.

Is there scope for DFAT to improve its crisis response?
Since the Bali bombing in 2002 the Department has continually improved the way we respond to crises involving Australians. We have more robust and flexible crisis response structures; better crisis IT tools; enhanced training and exercising; and improved whole of government arrangements and industry cooperation.

It is impossible to predict every eventuality. But we do follow a set of principles when assisting Australians in a crisis. There may be scope to improve public understanding of the Government’s role and manage public expectations during a crisis, particularly regarding evacuation – the sorts of expectations that have led some clients to ask if they can accrue frequent flyer points from a government-led evacuation. We may also be able to use social media better to disseminate information before and during a crisis.

Is the current registration system effective?
Improving our IT systems to deliver reliable data about Australians who need help in a crisis is a major challenge for the Department. There may be scope to change our current egistration process and replace it with a new approach that is easy for clients to use and provides a more accurate set of data on those believed or known to be affected by a crisis.
Public knowledge of the consular role and effectiveness of Smartraveller campaign
How effective is DFAT’s current safe travel messaging (‘register, insure, subscribe’)? 
Tested against its stated objectives, the Smartraveller campaign has been quite successful. Successive evaluations have shown that registration and subscription rates have risen in the wake of the campaigns. More travellers are taking out travel insurance. Approximately 70 per cent of Australian consular clients have medical insurance when travelling, although difficulties continue to arise when insurance policies are not comprehensive and do not cover particular circumstances, such as motorcycle accidents or extreme sports.

But has Smartraveller messaging become too detailed and complicated? Is there a risk of “alert fatigue”? Does “register and subscribe” lead some members of the public to assume that there is an unconditional safety net for travellers? There may be value in fine-tuning our key public message to stress self-reliance, such as “Plan, Prepare, Prevent”.

What can be done to improve the understanding of the consular role among the Australian travelling public?
The Department’s Consular Services Charter was introduced over a decade ago and is available electronically on the Smartraveller site and in brochure format through Australian missions abroad, travel agencies and at travel expos. Despite this, feedback suggests the Charter is not well known by the Australian travelling public. Most Australians have little understanding of the consular role until they come into contact with consular officers overseas. This can mean that they have unrealistic expectations of the role the Government can play and the services it can deliver in their particular circumstances, which can lead to frustration and disappointment.

Media reports and the experiences of other travellers contribute directly to public perceptions of the consular role. The Government’s actions to assist travellers in high-profile crises or consular cases (such as the Lebanon evacuation in 2006 or individual cases in Bali) tend to create public expectations that the Government will be able, and is in fact obliged, to assist them if they run into difficulty overseas. High levels of service provided to some clients and their families can also lead to recriminations from other clients about inconsistencies in service levels.

The Consular Services Charter was refreshed and relaunched in 2011 to address some of these concerns, but there is little evidence that it has succeeded in lifting public understanding of the consular role. Some clients say the Charter is “ambiguous” and “legalistic” and argue that it should provide clear, plain-language guidance on how the Department conducts its business and outline the limitations on consular services. It may be timely to review the Charter, to make it more accessible and to expand efforts to disseminate the new version, including by highlighting it more prominently on the Smartraveller website.

What role is played by the media, including social media, in shaping public views and expectations on the consular role?
Stories of Australians caught up in difficult or tragic circumstances overseas provide sensational headlines and easy copy to fuel a 24/7 news cycle. The 2013 Lowy Institute report 'Consular Conundrum: The Rising Demands and Diminishing Means for Assisting Australians Overseas' commented on the impact: “Media attention on prominent cases tempts politicians to override departmental protocols and consular service charters to provide higher levels of attention and service, bidding up the level of service Australians expect when they encounter trouble overseas.” This is reflected in increased numbers of FOI requests on individual cases from the media and public.

Social media is a further stimulus, providing a platform for the public – including “citizen journalists” and family and close supporters of high-profile consular clients – to raise the profile of a consular case. The open nature of the Internet and social media can enable dissemination of misinformation about individual cases, which can exacerbate unrealistic expectations.

On the other hand, social media plays an increasingly important role in gathering information and pushing out key public messages during a crisis or emergency. Greater use of social media tools could enable us to reach a wider audience and provide a trusted source of accurate information; allow consular officers on the ground to correct misinformation quickly; assist Canberra, particularly the crisis centre, to monitor conversations about a particular crisis; and encourage online sharing and agency/country cooperation of information.

How effective are DFAT’s systems for dealing with feedback on consular assistance?
Many government service sectors have established methods to track customer satisfaction and concerns, including passports, immigration and visas. DFAT collects feedback through a number of channels, but there may be a case to expand options or develop a mechanism to measure client/subscriber satisfaction and gauge public experiences of consular service delivery, for example via a questionnaire on Smartraveller.

Instructions for visa application to Vietnam

1. General information:
- Vietnamese entry visa (a business visa and a tourist visa) is required for all foreigners wishing to visit Vietnam except for citizens of countries having bilateral agreements on visa exemption with Vietnam.

- Visa can be applied in person at the Consulate General of Vietnam in Sydney or by mail/post to the Consulate-General’s  address.

- The time to process a visa application is normally 2 (two) working days. In case of urgency, the applicant may contact the Consulate General of Vietnam in Sydney for an appropriate advice.

- Normally, the Vietnamese visa can be applied no earlier than 6 month prior to date of departure and the applicant can enter Vietnam anytime from proposed date of entry. However please note that, the visa will be expired exactly from the date as given.

2. The required documents are as follows:
- The original passport which must have longer validity than the visa by at least six month.

- One completed application form attached with one passport-size photograph.

- Application fee can be paid by cash, money orders or cheque (payable to the Consulate General of the S.R. of Vietnam in Sydney). Visa fees are various and depend on the length of stay, number of entry and purpose a trip. Please contact the Consulate General for further information. All payments are non-refundable.

- For the applicant who wish to collect the passport by mail: please enclose a pre-paid return envelope with clear self address. To avoid a situation when passports might not reach back the applicants before the needed date, please spare plenty of time for the post delivery forth and back.
3. Tourist visas to Vietnam:
Tourist visa can be valid up to 30 days with single or multiple entry.
4. Business and other types of Vietnamese visas:
 Business visa could be granted for single or multiple entries with a maximum stay in Vietnam of 90 days

In addition to the documents specified in (1), the applicant must obtain visa approval from Vietnamese Immigration Department through his/her sponsor in Vietnam (otherwise the applicant can ask for the assistance from the Consulate General).
5. Vietnamese Diplomatic and Official visas:
Diplomatic/Official visa can be applied gratis. Besides the requirements mentioned in (1), the applicant is advised to submit to the Consulate General a Note Verbal or an official letter from the concerned office of the Commonwealth Government of Australia or State Government, Foreign Missions and Posts based in Australia.

6. Office hours
Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-12:30 pm and 1:30 pm-4:00 pm

Viet Nam, Australia urged to make use of trade pact

Viet Nam and Australia should take advantage of the free trade agreement between the latter, ASEAN and New Zealand to boost bilateral economic cooperation, especially in food safety and hygiene, natural resources and energy exploitation. President Truong Tan Sang made the comments while receiving Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr in the capital on March 28.

President Truong Tan Sang made the receives Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr in the capital on March 28

He urged both sides to complete targets for the Viet Nam- Australia Action Plan 2010- 2013 as well as prepare contents for the coming period.

While highly appreciating Australia ’s ODA to Viet Nam , the President called on the country to continue its support of Viet Nam ’s standpoints and viewpoints and help it in its confirmation as a reliable and responsible international partner.

The Australia Minister thanked Viet Nam for its support at regional and international forums, additionally praising the two countries’ cooperation in public-private partnership (PPP), infrastructure construction, coping with climate change, education and training.

Carr asked Viet Nam for further cooperation at ASEAN, ASEM, APEC, and United Nations events while strengthening diplomacy.

He invited the Vietnamese president to visit Australia in celebration of the 40 th year of establishing diplomatic ties next year.

The same day, Carr met with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh to discuss regional and international issues of mutual concern.

They agreed to boost exchanges and mutual support both regionally and internationally as well as cooperation in coping with natural disasters and climate change.

The two FMs affirmed to closely collaborate in specific cooperation fields within the framework of the Australia-Viet Nam Action Programme in the 2010-2013 period.

FM Bob Carr reiterated that Australia considers Viet Nam as one of its key partners in the Asia-Pacific and its government will continue giving priority to Viet Nam in official development assistance.

For his part, FM Minh proposed an early signing of an agreement on working holiday programme soon.

On the day, the visiting Australian FM visited KOTO restaurant run by KOTO organisation, the non-profitable vocational training centre, which has to date trained restaurant and hotel services for more than 300 young people facing extreme difficulties.