MORRISET - If you live in a Pacific nation and are having trouble or being delayed in getting a visa to Australia, there are likely to be two reasons:
One - visa processing has been outsourced to a private UK company called TT Services.
Two - all visa approvals are now managed by the Australian High Commission in Fiji, even if you are from Papua New Guinea, the Solomons, Vanuatu or Tonga.
Take a look at this statement on the Australian Department of Home Affairs website:
"Home Affairs in the Australian High Commission in Suva, Fiji has the responsibility for managing immigration and citizenship services in Fiji.
“Home Affairs Suva also has the responsibility for visa and citizenship processing for Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Republic of Nauru, New Caledonia, Northern Marianas, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna and Vanuatu.
“You can lodge your application online or through TT Services. Applications lodged online are generally processed more quickly."
‘More quickly,’ as you might expect from a government bureaucracy, is a relative term.
Average waiting times just for a tourist visa once an application has been vetted by TTS and forwarded to Fiji from your local Australian embassy or high commission is between 21 and 34 working days.
That’s ‘working days’, which translates into nearly two months.
All part of Australia’s ‘step up’ to make itself look more of a partner in the Pacific.