Mid East gets Australian visa boost

In the run-up to the busy summer tourist season, an important announcement was made in Australia recently that citizens of the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait may now obtain visas to travel to Australia without having to obtain a label stamp in their passports. This means that when the visa is granted, it is already entered into the system so a visitor granted a visa and headed to Australia will only need to show up at the airport with their airline tickets and their passport.

This move is expected to reduce visa processing times as most applicants will no longer need to send their passport to the Australian Consulate-General in Dubai for processing.

Andrew Oldfield, Tourism Australia’s Dubai-based distribution development manager, confirmed the recent announcement which is good news for both eligible Gulf nationals and their travel agents applying for visitor visas to Australia this season. ‘Citizens of these countries can already apply for an Australian tourist visa over the Internet,’ said Oldfield, ‘on www.immi.gov.au .

‘This is just another option should they wish to do it in person through one of the designated Australian Application Counters located in each GCC country. Details can be found on the website, www.vfs.ae .’

In the past five years the number of visitor visa applications received from residents in the Gulf countries has almost doubled to more than 20,000 in 2005.

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Commented Oldfield, ‘This year alone, more than 14,000 tourist visas will be processed in June and July by the Australian Consulate-General in Dubai for people wanting to spend their summer holiday in Australia.’

The usual tourist visa processing time for applications is two weeks. Tourist visas may be valid up to 12 months with multiple entries depending on the applicant’s circumstances.
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