Australia to go visa label free from 1 September 2015

Australia is to finally cut the cord. As of 1 September 2015 Australian visa holders will not be able to obtain visa labels. This has been part of the government’s approach to reduce the desire for visa labels and embrace the electronic storage of this data. It is also a regulatory savings measure. Interestingly, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) achieved a 95% reduction in demand for visa labels in comparison with 2011 data.

This should come as no surprise as the DIBP have consistently promoted the message that visa information is stored electronically, that visa labels are not necessary, and visa information is verified according to the passport details of the visa holder. Visa labels have therefore been redundant for some time now and at last glance anyone wanting a visa label was charged $150 for the service, known as the Visa Evidence Charge.

What is very important, especially from 1 September 2015, is that visa holders and visa applicants need to notify the DIBP every time they obtain a new passport. On more than one occasion a panicked Australian permanent resident has sought advice as to why they were unable to board a flight to Australia. The number one culprit is because the DIBP has no record of their new passport. When this happens, airlines cannot verify that the passenger holds an Australian visa and are very hesitant, and often refuse, to let the person board. Hand wringing and an awkward stand-off is a common outcome.

The DIBP allows visa applicants and holders to update their passport details either through their ImmiAccount (if they have lodged an application), or through a Form 929. Visa holders should then always confirm their visa details have been transferred to their new passport by using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online service.