An association for Australian migration service providers said Monday that new charges for visa applications may be a disincentive for people wanting to migrate to Australia, hitting families' wallets particularly hard.
The July 1 visa pricing restructure, including an 80 AU dollar (76.92 U.S. dollar) fee for certain visas if lodged in paper instead of online, is intended to bring Australia's pricing in line with Canada, the U.S. and the U. K. according to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).
There will also be charges for additional applicants on a combined application -- a worry for families on a budget.
"These new charges will almost double the bill for the average family migrating to Australia," said Angela Chan, National President of the Migration Institute Australia (MIA).
Applicants for the General Skilled Migration, Employer Nomination Scheme and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme currently pay 3,060 AU dollars in application fees.
While the base rate remains, from July 1 additional applicants on the one form will have to fork out 1,530 AU dollars for a person aged 18 years or older, or 765 AU dollars for a child -- making it more expensive for families to apply.
For a husband, wife and two young children, an application for one of these three visas would now cost 6,120 AU dollars.
"That's almost double the existing fee and is often more than a registered migration agent would charge for assisting them with their application," said Chan.
Overseas students, tourists and temporary workers may also be hit with a Subsequent Temporary Application charge of 700 AU dollars when applying for a new temporary visa.
Chan said the fee hikes would likely not result in faster processing of applications by the DIAC, which plans to approve 190, 000 permanent migrants for 2013-14 under Australia's Permanent Skilled Migration Program.
"If this is the government's way of weeding out non-genuine applicants, they are going about it the wrong way," said Chan.
"Australia should not be discouraging genuine migrants. More focus should be put on proper resources and training for DIAC employees," she added.