Jill Singer’s recent article, Dollars open doors, (27 September 2002) contains a number of inaccuracies.
The Department has a responsibility to investigate and ensure that only genuine applicants are approved to enter Australia.
Ms Singer suggests that Australia’s visa requirements discriminate against applicants from the Philippines. This is not true. Approval rates for Visitor visa applications from the Philippines have increased in the past two years from 72 percent to 77 percent in 2001-02. Initiatives the Department has put in place has seen the non return rate of visitors from the Philippines reduce from almost 16 percent in 1998-99 to 4 percent in 2001-02.
People who are refused Visitor visas have the right of appeal to the Migration Review Tribunal, if they applied to visit close family members living in Australia.
Last program year, 1,375 people applied for partner visas at the Australian Embassy in Manila. In the same period 1,317 people received visas.
The Department continues to introduce new strategies to visa more people, while minimising abuse of the system. An example is the introduction of the Sponsored Family Visitor visa, which enables people in Australia to sponsor family visitors, on condition they guarantee that family member will abide by their visa conditions.
Recently the Family Visitor Network has also been established. This network will assist people who have relatives overseas and enable them to better understand Visitor visa requirements and processes.
Director, Public Affairs
Dept of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs