Chapter 1 Referral of the bills
The Migration (Visa Evidence) Charge Bill 2012 and the Migration (Visa
Evidence) Charge (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2012
(collectively, the Visa Evidence Charge Bills) were introduced into the
Australian Parliament’s House of Representatives on 9 May 2012.
The Visa Evidence Charge Bills amend the Migration Act 1958 to
introduce a charge for requests for evidence of a visa issued as validation of
a non citizen’s immigration status and entitlements in Australia:
n The Migration (Visa
Evidence) Charge Bill 2012 introduces a charge, with a maximum limit of $250,
for requests for visa evidence and a method for indexation of that charge;
n The Migration (Visa
Evidence) Charge (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2012 provides for regulations
to implement and calculate charges for different forms of visa evidence and
The new charge is intended to encourage visa holders to use the
Department’s online visa entitlement verification system, VEVO for visa
validation. The measure will also support immigration processing during the
transition to label free travel, based on electronic verification.
Currently visa evidence is provided without a fee, which imposes an
administrative and cost burden on the Department of Immigration and
Selection Committee consideration
Under Standing Order 222, the House of Representatives’ Selection
Committee may refer bills it considers controversial
or as requiring further consultation or debate to the relevant standing
or joint committee.
On 10 May 2012, the Committee referred the Visa Evidence Charge Bills to
the Joint Standing Committee on Migration for inquiry and report.
According to the Selection Committee report, the principal reason for
the referral was inadequate explanation of the scope, rationale and costing
methodologies for the charge in the explanatory memoranda associated with the
legislation. In particular, the Selection
n clear indication of
the number and type of visa subclasses to be affected by the measure; and
n further explanation
of the maximum charge limit of $250 and the $90 million three year revenue
projection cited in the Financial Impact Statements for the bills.
The Selection Committee was also concerned that the charge could act as
barrier to participation should visa evidence be required, for example, for a
Conduct of the inquiry
The Committee determined that its review of the bills could be best and
most expediently conducted by issuing written questions to the Department of
Immigration and Citizenship.
Thirteen questions were drafted by the Committee and forwarded to the
Department on 28 May 2012. Written answers were received on 4 June 2012.
The questions submitted to the Department are at Appendix A.