Cape Town – Travellers planning a trip to Australia soon, for business or pleasure, are advised to apply for their visas well in advance as travel and tour operators warn of delays in issuing Australian visas.
Delays are due to a backlog at the Australian High Commission’s South African offices.
ALSO SEE: How to apply for your Australian Visa
Luka Vinkovic, a senior call centre agent at the Australian visa application centre in South Africa says that the application processing systems are “being fixed”, as the Australian High Commission offices in South Africa are “dealing with much higher volume” of visa applicants than usual.
“We are experiencing a high volume of applicants and there’s no way to avoid it,” says Vinkovic. He assures that “no rules have changed” regarding the visa application process and that the delay is “nothing major”, while advising SA applicants to simply apply earlier than usual.
The current processing time is approximately one month for business visas and six weeks for tourist visas.
Before the delays started, the processing time was 10 working days for business visas for SA applicants and one month for tourist visas, which was the standard processing time for all passport holders.
“Agents are advised to apply for their clients’ Australian visas as early as possible to allow for processing delays,” says Thompsons Travel.
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Philani Ncmnanan, also from SA’s Australian visa application centre says that the systems used to process visas are being “upgraded” to track applicants, and the application centre awaits the High Commission based in Pretoria to inform them about when the processing time will return to its usual time-frame.
The Australia High Commission in Pretoria advises that to avoid further delays, applicants must ensure that they submit “complete visa applications” as delays also occur if all necessary documents are not in place or completed in full.
Here’s a checklist of required documents for a short stay, visitor visa application (for a stay period of up to three, six or twelve months):
- Current valid passport with at least 6 months validity.
- A recent passport sized photo (not older than 6 months)
- A copy or printout of transfer receipt showing payment of the applicable fees.
See the full checklist and tips on How to apply for your Australian Visa here.
The Australia High Commission in Pretoria also advised that higher volumes of travellers are expected around December; therefore applicants can expect a further backlog and delay around this time of year and must apply for their visa in advance.
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