Australia and China have negotiated a Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) which will lead to positive changes on the migration and visa front. A date for the commencement of the changes is yet to be announced and it is expected to take some time as treaties need to be signed and legislation, and regulations need to be amended. However, some basic information has been provided by the Immigration Department thus far.
Under the ChAFTA, Australia plans to guarantee Chinese citizens access to Australia via:
- Business visitor visas for up to 90 days, or 6 months for service sellers
- Intra-corporate transferees and independent executives for up to four years
- contractual service suppliers for up to four years
- installers and servicers for up to three months
- entry and stay for dependents and spouses of Chinese citizens that have been granted entry in accordance with the ChAFTA
- Work and Holiday Arrangement (up to 5000 Chinese citizens annually)
Whilst it may be some time for the above changes to become operational, Australia has already announced that Chinese nationals will be able to apply online for offshore visitor visas (Subclass 600) using approved service agents in China. This chance commences 23 November 2014.
Online Visitor Visa Application Services Extended
From 23 November 2014, the holders of passports from the following countries will be able to access the online Tourist, Sponsored Family and Visitor visa categories:
The online system provides ease of access to visa applicants and case officers. Applicants using the online system can lodge their details online and attach documents, update passport details, change email and address details and check the progress of their applications.