Individuals and Travellers

Reforms to modernise Australia’s visa system—Q&As

Why is there a need for visa reform?

Australia's visa business model and underpinning technology systems are almost 30 years old and have increasing limitations.

The Department is managing growing volumes of visa applications and travellers, within an environment of increasing risks to national security and budget constraints.

A fit-for-purpose, competitive immigration and visa system underwrites economic growth and national security.

Changes to Australia’s visa systems will allow the Department to better handle increasing volumes of applicants, travellers, and increased national security risks while providing an improved client experience with easier to understand visa information and better online services.

What are the improvements and what will they achieve?

The Government will introduce reforms to modernise Australia’s visa technologies to provide a seamless, automated experience for most travellers.

Our goal is a streamlined experience for the vast majority of visa and citizenship applicants, better automated end-to-end processing and increased use of self-service, which aligns to the whole-of-government digital agenda.

The package includes:

  • Engaging with the market to explore new technologies to help design and build a visa processing platform that will better manage risk, increase efficiency in processing and improve the visa applicant experience.
  • Improving existing ICT systems to enhance the Government’s ability to assess and verify the identity of individuals arriving in Australia

When will the improvements come into effect?

This is a long-term programme of improvement to the way we deliver our services.

There is no immediate impact for visa applicants or holders. The first step will be broad consultation with the market on the design and build of a new visa processing platform.

What will the changes look like?

The improvements will make it easier for clients and business to navigate visa information. Improvements in online services and back-end processing will enable the department to maintain high levels of service for the growing numbers of visa applicants.

While the changes will be designed to manage the increasing number of travellers and migrants who cross the border each year, they will also improve the relevant safeguards and provide the Government with more opportunities to protect the community. 

Will these changes impact on Australia’s attractiveness as a migrant destination country?

The improvements will continue to support Australia’s attractiveness as a destination for tourists, skilled workers, students and investors.

Enhanced identity capabilities will deliver a seamless experience for low-risk travellers across our borders with minimal interaction with border officials.

What will happen to people who have an existing visa application?

There is no immediate impact for current visa applicants or holders. Current visa applications will continue to be considered under existing processing arrangements.

You do not need to contact the Department. Applications will continue to be considered under the existing processing arrangements.

How will we be able to better verify the identity of individuals coming to Australia?

The Department’s use of biometrics will:

  • streamline decision-making and facilitate the efficient movement of legitimate travellers
  • increase detection of people of security, law enforcement or immigration concerns
  • reduce identity fraud, including in migration and citizenship programmes.

There is no immediate impact on visa applicants/holders or businesses.

These enhancements will occur in the back-end of our systems helping to protect the safety of the Australian community and provide a seamless experience for the majority of travellers.

Will there be any changes to the way in which the Department delivers its client services?

Yes, however there will be no immediate changes. As a first step, the Department is engaging with the market to explore new technologies to help design and build a visa processing platform that will better manage risk, increase efficiency in processing and improve the visa applicant experience.

How will the reforms affect the Department’s current service providers?

At this point, there are no immediate changes to current arrangements. In the longer term, we foresee visa reform providing potential new opportunities for current service providers.

How do I get involved if I believe I have a service to offer?

As a first step, the Department has released a market consultation paper 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. We foresee opportunities for a wide range of businesses, including existing and new providers. We encourage all who have a relevant service to offer to participate in this open market consultation process.

Further information about the market consultation paper is available below: