2016-17 Budget winners and losers: Tourist fast-track visas to expand; Working Holiday Makers tax

Last night, the Treasurer, handed down the Federal Budget for the next financial year. The Budget is an important document for Immigration and Citizenship as it gives some insight into what future changes may occur.

With a keen emphasis on fiscal responsibility, it comes as no surprise that the government is looking to save costs and increase revenue wherever possible.

Fast-tracking of tourist visas, already available to Chinese nationals, will expand to India and the United Arab Emirates with the addition of a three year multiple entry tourist visa for low risk applicants from India, Thailand, Vietnam and Chile.

Although there appears to be some winners, including the Australian public with a sharp increase in revenue to be generated from visa application charges, by $740.8 million to $17,486.7 million, the biggest losers will be working holiday maker visa holders. As of 1 July 2016, these visa holders will be taxed 32.5 cents in every dollar earned in Australia. This is in actual fact, a measure from the last Federal Budget.

Some have questioned the effectiveness of this measure. As these visa holders are typically young with limited financial resources, many potential visa applicants may reconsider whether to have their backpacking trip to Australia. While it is a requirement that applicants have enough money to support themselves while in Australia, many seek casual employment to offset their expenses, with jobs typically sought in the hospitality industry. The taxing measure could also increase instances of visa holders working unlawfully for unscrupulous employers, and therefore, will be untaxable. Another systemic instance of worker exploitation is the last thing Australia needs. One could also see the tax as a hindrance to these visa holders’ local consumption, which would obviously affect local revenue as well.