Press Release Summary = The validity period for tourist visas and business visitor visas has been extended from one to two years for nationals from member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Press Release Body = Nationals from six Gulf countries will find it easier to visit Australia under changes announced today by Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Amanda Vanstone.
The validity period for tourist visas and business visitor visas has been extended from one to two years for nationals from member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
'From today, most nationals from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia can visit Australia as often as they like over a two-year period with just one visa,' Senator Vanstone said today.
'Up to 70 per cent of these people are repeat visitors making regular family holiday trips to Australia, and the validity extension will benefit an estimated 11 000 visitors from the Gulf every year.
'People wishing to make return trips within two years will now not need to reapply for their visa and we hope that will encourage people to visit Australia frequently.'
Australia has enjoyed and welcomed an increase in the number of visitors from the Gulf region.
In the past five years the number of visitor visa applications from Gulf countries has almost doubled to more than 20 000 in 2005.
'This extension in visa validity is in response to the large number of people from the Gulf who visit Australia regularly,' Senator Vanstone said.
'We welcome these visitors and this new process will benefit all those who wish to return to Australia.'
Senator Vanstone said business travellers would also reap the benefits of needing to apply only every two years.
'We understand that business is time critical and that delays caused by reapplying for a visa can be costly. This change will make it that little bit easier to do business here.'
The two-year visa will streamline visa processing during the peak travelling season in the Gulf.
More than 14 000 tourist visas will be processed by the Australian Consulate-General in Dubai in June and July next year for people wanting to spend their summer holiday in Australia.
Senator Vanstone said the new arrangement followed other recent improvements to visa processing for nationals of the Gulf countries.
'Most importantly, we hope these changes will strengthen and nurture the ties between our nations,' the Minister said.
This new initiative will be introduced as a trial and will be reviewed to ensure it is having the desired benefits for clients in the region.
- Senator Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
Web Site = http://www.nationalvisas.com.au
Contact Details = National Visas Web site: http://www.nationalvisas.com.au Address: 3 - 118 Church Street Hawthorn, Victoria Australia 3122 Phone: +61 (0) 3 9697 4922