17/01/2006 - 21:00

CCI initiative to ease visa burden

17/01/2006 - 21:00

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An initiative by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has simplified the often-difficult task faced by those from developing nations in securing a short-term business visa to Australia.

CCI initiative to ease visa burden

An initiative by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has simplified the often-difficult task faced by those from developing nations in securing a short-term business visa to Australia.

CCIWA International Trade Centre senior trade adviser, Ian Whitaker, said the chamber was now promoting its status as an authorised sponsoring organisation for short-stay business visitors to Australia after completing a trial of the program last year.

The initiative substantially cuts waiting times for visa grants in countries such as China, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, because Australian consulates in these nations are usually overwhelmed with applications, he said.

“A lot of companies are having difficulty arranging visits to Australia by overseas business associates, customers, suppliers and technical experts because of the difficulty in obtaining visas,” Mr Whitaker said. “The wait can be up to three weeks.”

Until recently, only government bodies and members of parliament could sponsor visa applications for ‘official’ visits.

But last year the federal government gave state chambers of commerce the power to sponsor the Subclass 459 visas, which allow entry to Australia temporarily for a period of up to three months for business purposes.

Last year’s CCI trial of the program included a visit to Western Australia by groups of engineers from India and Pakistan coming to assist with Alcoa’s Wagerup Refinery expansion and Burrup Fertilisers’ project in the Pilbara.

The Sponsored Business Visitor Subclass 459 Visa arrangement involves CCI lodging the business visitor visa application with the Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs in Perth.

“Once approved, the applicant presents their passport for visa evidencing at the relevant Australian embassy or consulate,” Mr Whitaker said.

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