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  • Writer's pictureAffy Bhatti

Navigating the Complexities of Australian Visa Applications

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

australian visa applications

Australia is a nation that has been blessed with immigration and become a truly multicultural society. In fact, almost one in three of us (29.5%) were born overseas.

One of the dominant points of discussion in the media at the moment is whether the target number of immigrants to Australia is “too high” given things such as interest rates and housing shortages – things that are easy (but inaccurate) to blame immigrants for.

What is often lost in the discussion is just how difficult it can be to get the visas to migrate to Australia, and this is something that does need to be addressed, because it puts an unreasonable burden on our newest & most enthusiastic people, often before they’ve even stepped foot into their new country.

What you need to know about visa applications

The visa application process in Australia is rigorous and demanding. It typically requires a high level of professional experience and a thorough understanding of the country’s immigration laws. For most visa classes, applicants must demonstrate their skills and qualifications, provide extensive documentation, and often undergo stringent health and character checks.

Moreover, the cost of applying for an Australian visa is prohibitively high. Australia has some of the most expensive visas across several categories. For example, a 482 visa for skilled migrants to work in the country will cost at least $1,500 (or $3,000 if you would also like to bring your spouse and children with you). That’s high, but relatively manageable (particularly if you’ve got an employer that’s willing to pay that in sponsorship of your application), but if you’ve entered into a relationship with an Australian the partner visa is an incredible $8,850. That monumental cruelty on people who fall in love with Australians is nothing compared to what your spouse would need to pay to bring their parents with them - that’s $43,600. Per applicant.

At those prices, relationships with Australians are simply unaffordable to many from the global south. The partner visa alone is significantly more than the average annual income of many nations, such as Vietnam, India and Pakistan. It’s more than the average monthly salary for Australians, too, making it unaffordable for most Australians to support their partner in moving to Australia.

In addition to the cost challenges, there are also concerns about biases and discrimination in the visa application process. There are reports that the visa system is unfair both to women, and along racial lines, with caucasians often given preference ahead of ethnic minorities. These biases can manifest in various ways, from subtle microaggressions during interviews to more overt forms of discrimination. And, simply, the cost is discriminatory. What is an expensive headache to an American or European migrant is simply impossible to many from Africa, Asia or South America.

Where to get help with your visa application

Despite these challenges, there are resources available to help potential applicants navigate the visa application process. Various organisations offer legal advice and support to immigrants, and there are numerous online forums and communities where applicants can share their experiences and advice. Additionally, the Australian government provides detailed information and guidance on its website, which can be a valuable resource for applicants.

Some additional sources that may help (depending on the type of visa that you’re applying for) include:

There are also private lawyers who specialise in immigration that you can turn to if your visa application is proving to be particularly challenging.

Approaching visas more positively

While there is a lot of support available to assist migrants with their visa applications, ultimately it’s no substitute for the more inclusive and transparent immigration policies that Australia needs to become truly welcoming to migrants.

The Australian government needs to take steps to reduce the cost of visas and eliminate racial biases in the visa application process. This could involve implementing measures to ensure that the process is fair and unbiased, such as independent oversight or third-party audits. Additionally, the government could consider offering financial assistance, fee deferrals or even waivers to applicants from low-income countries, particularly those who are looking to migrate based on personal circumstances rather than professional opportunity.

Australia’s many migrants are a blessing, both to the local community, as well as the broader world, as migrants send international money transfers from Australia to support their communities back home. Those blessings from Australia help to create a positive impression of us from all corners of the world. For their sake, we need to improve the visa system.

This blog was published in Public Spectrum on 8 December 2023.


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