Registered migration agents will generally be in agreement that June is one of the busiest times in the professional year. There are many reasons for this, which can collectively be characterised as wanting to avoid surprises that come on 1 July 2016. Over the years there have been many that have occurred without warning on this fateful date.
Surprises include: changes to application forms, changes to legislative requirements, and changes to application charges. All of these frustrate not only agents but also their clients.
Filling out the correct form is essential to ensuring that a visa application has been validly lodged. Almost all visas require a specific and current form to be completed correctly. Failing to do this will result in an application being invalid. An invalid application is deemed to have never been lodged, and is returned to the applicant if possible. This could be disastrous in some circumstances. Of course, internet forms reduce the chances of an invalid application being made. This is done through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s ImmiAccount system, which will not be available from 7 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) (UTC + 10) on 30 June 2016 until 8 am (AEST) (UTC + 10) on 1 July 2016.
The reason for the system outage is to update various forms and to add certain features to assist applicants. The biggest change will probably be an overhaul of student visas application forms as the subclasses will be reduced from eight to two on 1 July 2016.
As for any changes to requirements, besides student visas, and application charges, no major announcements have been made. What makes this year different is that the DIBP, along with every other federal department, is in caretaker mode, meaning that significant policy changes are unlikely to occur until after the federal election on 2 July 2016. If there are changes to application charges, it is expected that it would only be a slight increase in line with inflation. The DIBP have, over the previous 12-18 months, given plenty of notice with substantial changes to application charges, and this has assisted migration agents and their clients with planning and lodging applications.
As always, time will tell…