25 June 2011

July 2011 fee increases exceed CPI

Fee increases for most visa and other applications take effect from 1 July. Visa application charges (VACs) have been increased by around 15%, well above the inflation rate.

A particular concern is the fee for an application for review in the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT). The fee is increased from $1,400 to $1,540 (10%). The same applies to the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT), where the fee is only charged if the application is unsuccessful. However, while the MRT fee was previously refunded in full if the appeal was successful, under the new rules successful applicants will only get back 50%.

The previous provision to allow for waiver of the fee in cases of financial hardship has also been changed, limiting the waiver to 50%.

Fees for the MRT are already substantially higher than in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), which charges $777 and refunds $677 on success. In cases of hardship, the fee is reduced to $100.

Most cases in the MRT take about 2 to 3 hours to be heard. Cases in the AAT, which include complex appeals concerning tax, customs, veteran's entitlements and other matters, often run for 1 to 2 weeks.

Since the MRT overturns 45% of decisions that are appealed to it, according to its annual report for 2009-10, there does not appear to be any basis for the government to seek to deter applications for being mostly frivolous or unfounded.

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