New Oz visas snapped up

By Yuen Yeuk-laam Source:Global Times Published: 2015-10-13 20:33:01

First round of Work and Holiday papers gone in minutes

Chinese tourists take pictures of themselves standing in front of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia on September 28. Photo: CFP

The first round of the new Australia Work and Holiday Visas in China has been handed out, with many of the lucky recipients admitting they spent thousands of yuan to agencies to get one, the Global Times learned on Monday.

The first 1,500 visas were released on September 21. A staff member at the Australian Embassy in China told the Global Times on Monday that applications were filled within minutes of being made available.

"I have paid more than 7,000 yuan ($1,100) to an agency to get one," a 26-year-old girl surnamed Chen who successfully got a visa told the Global Times.

"It was very competitive so I thought I would rather pay some money to an agency. They told me that the money could be refunded if they failed," Chen said.

China and Australia agreed to establish a Work and Holiday Arrangement with a quota of up to 5,000 visas to Chinese people each year earlier in September. The arrangement aimed at providing an opportunity for cultural exchange and building closer ties between the two countries.

According to the embassy, the Work and Holiday visas are open to Chinese nationals aged between 18 and 30. Applicants should hold post-secondary school qualifications or have completed at least two years of undergraduate university study, have functional English, meet character and health requirements and prove that they have at least A$5,000.

The visa fee is 2,180 yuan and is required on the day the applicants submit the visa application. People who are interested can apply online or visit the nearest Australian Visa Application Centre.

Visa holders are allowed to stay in Australia for 12 months from their date of first arrival, with six months working and four months in school.

"These 5,000 young Chinese people will join the ranks of around 240,000 young people from around the world each year who enjoy a working holiday in Australia," said Peter Dutton, Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.

Chen said she will have to submit required documents to the application center in the next few days. "I want to experience a new life in a new country. If I could adapt to the environment, I hope to migrate there," she said, adding that she is not sure what job she would be doing in Australia.

In fact, there are many advertisements online claiming that they could help get the Work and Holiday Visa, charging from hundreds to thousands of yuan.

An employee at an agency named Ertland told the Global Times that they are experienced in getting different countries' Work and Holiday Visas.

"For the first round of the Australian Work and Holiday visa, we have successfully obtained 139 visas out of the 1,500," he said.

"The embassy has not announced the exact date of the launch of the second round yet but we have already received dozens of requests," he added.

The service fee of the agency varied from 7,000 to 10,000 yuan, depending on the order in which people apply. They said their service only includes obtaining the chance to apply for the visa and handing the confirmation letter to the applicants. Customers have to undergo the rest of the application procedures themselves.

Also, applications may still be rejected by the embassy if the documents the applicants submitted have failed to meet the requirements.

The staff at the Australian Embassy in China said people who are interested in applying could actually do the application free of charge themselves without the help of the agency, noting the success rate is still the same. The visas are handed out on a first come, first served basis. In other words, the cost for the agency behind the expensive service fee is zero.

According to the embassy, the Chinese and Australian governments will consider whether the annual limit of 5,000 places should be increased in the near future.

Wu Jiang, a professor of tourism management at Nanjing Normal University, said a working holiday is not purely about traveling but it is more about working in another country,, a news portal based in Chengdu, Sichuan Province reported.

He said between the age of 18 and 30, many people have not yet finished their studies. He suggested students finish their studies before going to a new country.

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