15 July 2008

Immigration Department picks up the pace for World Youth Day

One hundred thousand Catholics are expected to make the pilgrimage to Sydney this week for the World Youth Day conference. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said an extra 8,000 international arrivals flew into Sydney yesterday, but the Department are well prepared for the occasion.

A DIAC spokesperson said extra staff were employed to cope with the influx of international travellers, and in the months leading up to the event had already processed 70,000 applications for an Australia visa.

"In addition, there will be a large number of international pilgrims who have obtained their visa through other means, as well as about 4,000 pilgrims from New Zealand – all bound for Sydney."

Extra staff are manning the immigration clearance to ensure smooth passenger processing.  Government estimates predict the numbers of visitors for the event will match that of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and will more than double the amount of international visitors for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Around 220 pilgrims from India were granted a one month travel visa to New Zealand in the lead-up to World Youth Day, and the New Zealand Immigration Department said 32 have gone missing over the past four to five days.  It is thought the pilgrims are hoping to stay illegally in the country, but as their visas are still valid they are not committing any crime, says a departmental spokesperson. 

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

Travellers to Australia can apply online for an ETA visa with the Australian Visa Bureau.

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