Australia: Travelers from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives and Sri Lanka Will No Longer Receive Visa Labels
Australia is no longer placing visa labels in the passports of travelers from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, effective October 1, 2012, as part of a label-free travel program that will eventually apply worldwide.
Once their Australian visa is granted, travelers from these countries will receive an electronic visa grant letter that will allow them to travel to Australia with the passport that was listed in their visa application. They will no longer be required to physically evidence a visa in their passport. This should reduce processing times and costs because applicants will no longer need to wait for a physical visa to be produced or pay for courier services to have their passport returned.
Airlines will be able to electronically confirm travelers’ visa status before allowing them to board an Australia-bound plane leaving from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Employers, educational institutions, government bodies and individual visa holders will be able to confirm visa entitlements, such as work authorization, using Australia’s Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service.
The Australian government has conducted extensive information campaigns with government bodies, airlines, travel agents and other stakeholders to ensure they are all aware of the label-free arrangements in these countries.
Though no longer mandatory for the affected countries, visa labels are available on request to accommodate those who will need them in order to transit through or exit other countries. Travelers should confirm exit or transit requirements with relevant government authorities. There is currently no fee for a visa label, though Australia is considering imposing a surcharge for visa labels as part of a larger fee initiative, but only where the Australian immigration authority has determined a visa label is not required for entry and stay in Australia.
This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen in Australia or send an email to email@example.com.