From September, the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship revamped the way Australian visas are processed in China.
A key change includes the introduction of Australian Visa Application Centres (AVACs) in Beijing and Shanghai.
The two AVACs have been outsourced to London-based VFS Global Pty Ltd, which operates visa application services for almost 40 countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and a large number of European countries.
The AVACs in Shanghai and Beijing will accept visa applications and charges, handle basic enquiries from clients before an application is lodged, return passports and provide an online application tracking facility.
The introduction of AVACs is expected to provide easier and faster access to immigration services including extended service hours and streamlined processing.
Applicants residing in provinces within the Beijing and Shanghai catchment areas applying for most Australian visas should lodge their application at an AVAC in either Beijing or Shanghai.
The Beijing AVAC catchment area includes Beijing, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Tianjin, Shandong, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Henan, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Chongqing, Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang and Tibet.
The Shanghai AVAC catchment area includes Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangxi and Hubei.
Those living in the Guangzhou catchment applying in person or by post for an Australian visa should continue to lodge their application directly with the Australian Visa Office at the Australian Consulate in Guangzhou.
It is anticipated AVACS for Guangzhou and Chengdu will be opened in 2013.
There will be no change to the current lodgement and processing arrangements for Government officials applying via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or their local Foreign Affairs Office, Australian Destination Status travel or Australian citizenship by Descent applications. These applications should continue to be lodged directly with the nearest Australian Visa Office. ■