Individuals and Travellers

Reforms to modernise Australia’s visa system

Visa simplification: transforming Australia’s visa system

The Government has tasked the Department of Immigration and Border Protection with transforming Australia’s visa system to make it easier to understand, easier to navigate and more responsive to our economic, social and security interests.

Australia’s visa system has served us well, but it needs modernising to meet the future needs of rising traveller volumes and complex risks at the border.  

To help inform consideration of visa simplification, the Department consulted the public, including stakeholders, on design elements of the new visa system. 

The consultation process considered:

  • the scope for a reduction in the number of visas from 99 at present, to approximately 10 visas
  • the delineation between temporary entry and long-term or permanent residence
  • the role a period of provisional residence could play in enhancing the integrity of the visa system and easing the burden on taxpayers
  • ensuring that our visa system supports Australia as a competitive and attractive destination for temporary and longer-term entrants.

Public consultations

We released a policy consultation paper to support the public and other stakeholders in developing their response to visa simplification.

Public consultations on designing the new visa system concluded on 15 September 2017.

Consultations comprised a broad programme of engagement with industry, sectors of the community and other interested parties, and included stakeholder forums. The Department also engaged with our International partners.


Submissions have been published on our website, unless withheld at the submitter’s request. To view the submissions, see visa simplification submissions page.

What is changing now?

Nothing is changing now. Existing visa settings will remain in place.

The proposed simplified visa reforms are significant.

The reforms will be implemented in a way that is consistent with Australia’s international obligations.

Service delivery reforms

The Department has begun work to enhance the way we deliver visa and citizenship services, using the latest digital technologies to make it more efficient and easier to use for applicants and business.

While our current visa processing arrangements have served us well, we need to improve them to ensure we can manage growing volumes of visa applications and travellers.

This is a long-term programme of transformation of Australia’s visa system and how it is promoted and delivered around the world. The purpose of this transformation is to pursue the Government’s priorities of a strong economy, strong national security and a cohesive and prosperous society.

As a first step, the Department released a market consultation paper – Delivering Visa Services for Australia in June 2017, seeking input from potential market providers to explore innovative solutions for a new visa service delivery business, including new technologies to help design and build a global digital visa-processing platform. This process is now closed.

Following the market consultation paper, the Department released a Request for Expression of Interest – Delivering Visa Services for Australia – Bundle 1 (REOI) on 22 September 2017.

To support the release of the REOI, a series of industry briefings were conducted in Sydney, Singapore, Bengaluru and San Francisco. See REOI Sydney Industry Briefing Video.

The Department envisages that by leveraging the capability available in the market, it can improve the quality and efficiency of services for visa applicants and bring a range of value added services to them. However, the Department will retain sovereign functions, including policy functions, visa decision making and security checks.

Further information about Immigration Reform is available at: Reforms to modernise Australia’s visa system—Q&As