Passport details can now be updated via email

When Australia moved from physical visa labels to electronic visas linked to passport details, the biggest bugbear was notifying the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) whenever a new passport was issued to a non-citizen.

As visas are stored according to the passport(s) used in a visa application, failing to notify the DHA when a new passport has been issued can result in visa holders unable to travel to Australia despite the right to do so. This is because the DHA cannot identify a visa having been granted to that passport holder. Horror stories of temporary, provisional and permanent Australian visa holders stranded in airports are unfortunately too common. Even if visa labels were still around (they were removed for good on 1 September 2015) countries sometimes destroy old passports in the process of granting new ones, destroying the Australian visa label in the process.

It is the responsibility of any visa holder to notify the DHA of any new passport before and after a visa is granted.

The DHA seems to be aware of this issue. Firstly, they provided a portal for updating details online through ImmiAccount from 1 July 2016, however, this is only available to applications lodged but not yet to be decided.

For visa holders (previous applicants who have had a visa application approved), it used to be the case that only completing paper applications using the Form 929 and posting it with relevant supporting evidence to a DHA office was acceptable.

Recently, the DHA has created a dedicated email address, succinctly labelled for the sole purpose of updating passport details. According to their webpage, visa holders will still need to complete the Form 929, provide a scan or photo of the biographical page of their new passport, and any evidence of a change in name if that has occurred. This is at least an improvement on posting the form.

The DHA, in their auto-generate response expects to process any application within 5 business days. Visa holders can confirm this has been done using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service.

There is now even less of an excuse for those stuck in airports with a new passport but no linked Australian visa.