What is the change? Australia will trial a priority visa programme for short-term Chinese tourists and business travellers.

What does the change mean? Beginning 15 March, Chinese nationals will be eligible for priority Subclass 600 (Visitor) visa processing for an additional fee of A$1,000.

  • Implementation timeframe: 15 March 2016.
  • Visas/permits affected: Subclass 600 (Visitor) visas in both the Tourist and the Business Visitor streams.
  • Who is affected: Chinese nationals applying for Subclass 600 (Visitor) visas.
  • Impact on processing times: The programme provides for “priority consideration” of visa applications, but does not make any specific promises on processing times.
  • Business impact: The programme will be particularly helpful to business travellers who need to travel to Australia on short notice.

Background: In an explanatory statement accompanying the legislation, officials said that the trial programme “will help Australia capitalise on the increased affluence of Asia and the northern Australia’s proximity to the region.” The programme does not change any of the standard requirements on visa eligibility, nor is it expected to delay processing for applicants who apply for Subclass 600 visas outside of the priority programme. For now, the programme is only available to Chinese passport holders, but the legislation is written to provide flexibility to add other nationalities in the future.

BAL Analysis: Officials believe the programme is likely to appeal to more affluent Chinese nationals who need to travel to Australia on short notice. It is consistent with Australia’s efforts to both build business ties with China and increase development in northern Australia.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact

MARN: 9683856

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