Australian visa application form updates - what are the facts?

The 27th of March marks the date that the new Australian visa application form updates take effect, with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) promising that these new visa application forms will be on their site from the close of business today.

While this isn't the first time that DIAC have changed their forms by any means, it has sparked an interesting debate over what the change means for people who have completed an old Australian visa application form but have yet to lodge it; will these completed forms be accepted by DIAC, or will they be returned?

It's a concern shared by those emigrating to Australia and their migration agents, since DIAC have yet to give any upfront advice regarding the protocol in such cases. However, by looking at how these changes have been handled in the past and through examining the Policy Advice Manual (PAM) that is used to guide DIAC case officers, a few questions can be answered.

The debate can basically be boiled down to the definition of an "approved form".  The PAM advises that "old" versions of forms are NOT revoked so all versions of forms are "approved forms" . This opinion is further strengthened by the fact that the Minister (or delegate) approves a form by signing a statement on the design version of the form; however, nothing in the Australian Migration Act or Regulations operates to automatically revoke previous versions of that form.

It can then be taken that all previous versions of that form remain approved until officially revoked. Therefore, should a visa applicant use an old version of a form, that form is still an approved form for the purposes of the Act and Regulations and it must be accepted.

Of course, we would advise very strongly that applicants use the most current Australian visa application form whenever possible; however, if obtaining the latest version of the form results in your application being delayed to the extent that your visa eligibility could be damaged, then I think it should be taken as acceptable to use the previous version of the form.

We're currently awaiting for further advice from DIAC, so look for further updates as they come in.

- Lauren Mennie is Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau