The Government announced plans yesterday to simplify and streamline Australia’s complex visa system.

The Government plans to:

  • reduce the number of temporary work visas by 50 per cent by 2012; and
  • by 2015, extend this initiative to all visa subclasses, targeting a reduction of 50 per cent in the total number of visa subclasses.

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans said: ‘Australia's visa system is currently highly complex with 90 visa classes and 149 visa subclasses.

‘Fewer temporary visa subclasses, simpler assessment criteria and a more streamlined and consistent application process will result in an overall simpler system.

‘As a result, Australia’s visa system will be less cumbersome and confusing for individuals and businesses to navigate

‘The Rudd Government is determined to maintain strong border security and the integrity of the visa system.

‘Improvements to Australia's complex visa system will be implemented while ensuring the system remains responsive and supportive of government policy and client needs.’

The Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, said the initiative to simplify Australia's visa system would be undertaken as a Better Regulation Ministerial Partnership.

‘Better Regulation Ministerial Partnerships form a key part of the Government's deregulation agenda and ensure a disciplined and coordinated approach to delivering regulatory reform across government. Australia's immigration system is an important source of skilled labour which contributes to productivity improvements and economic growth.

‘This partnership provides the opportunity to make Australia’s visa system more client-focused, reduce administrative and compliance costs for business and improve the efficiency of the overall visa system.’

The reforms will be informed by public consultation and a discussion paper seeking views on visa simplification is now available on the department of Immigration and Citizenship website.