In mid-2017, the Department of Home Affairs (HA), formerly the Department of Immigration and Border Protection had extended online lodgement of visitor visa applications to all Indian nationals. The online application process provides a more convenient option for Indians looking to visit Australia, by allowing them to apply for their Australian tourist visa within the comfort of their home, without any biometric requirement or physically submitting their passport to the Department. In an age where travellers are increasingly self-reliant in planning and booking holidays, the e-lodgement facility allows tourists greater independence when planning a trip to Australia and has proved to be a strong catalyst for boosting tourist arrivals from India. Since the introduction of this new visa system, arrivals from India to Australia have surged by 20 per cent.
Tania Gerlach, Chief Migration Officer, Department of Home Affairs said, “Australia has a long history of innovation in its visa services. The expansion of online lodgement to Indian applicants is an important step in managing the large number of visitor visa applications processed in India. Processing times for these visas are now faster, as both applications and supporting documentation are immediately available to the processing office.”
Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager- India, Tourism Australia said, “Travellers today are digitally savvy and are increasingly habituated to a click or a tap to accomplish most tasks each day. Since the digital medium is now widely used in all aspects of travel planning, we see the introduction of online visitor visa lodgement as a progressive and innovative measure to ease travel logistics. In addition to destination delights to woo potential tourists, ease of access is usually seen as a catalyst that drives decision making. Going digital for visa facilitation is a huge convenience for travellers and further strengthens the appeal of Australia in attracting a higher share of visitors from India.”
Consumers can conveniently apply for their Australian visitor visa through the Department’s Immi Account portal. Online visa lodgement offers benefits such as 24/7 accessibility, electronic payment of the visa application charge and the ability to check the status of applications lodged online.
With the applicant’s permission, the online form can be completed by a third party such as a family member here in India or in Australia, or HA’s contracted visa application centre, VFS. Many travellers opt to use the service offered by key travel agents to do their online lodgement
In December 2017, Australia achieved its Tourism 2020 strategic goal of over 300,000 arrivals from India, three years ahead of target. India is currently the 8th largest inbound market, with 330,700 tourists visiting Australia during the year that ended May 2018, a growth of 19 per cent over the previous year. For the year that ended March 2018, Indian visitors spent A$ 1.53 billion (approx. Rs 7,650 crores) on their Australian trips, an increase of 14 per cent over the previous year. This is the fourth year where Tourism Australia has recorded solid double-digit growth in both arrivals and spend, indicating the destination’s growing preference among Indians.