Over 1 million maritime crew visas granted

Date: Sep 27, 2011

An milestone has been reached in migration management this month, with the the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) announcement that it has recently issued its 1 millionth maritime crew visa (MCV) to visiting sailors.

Since 2008, all shipping crews that hail from international destinations have been required to apply for MCVs before entering Australian waters - introducing a formal application into the otherwise casual process.

The number of these visas issued by the DIAC to foreign crews is staggering, with sometimes as many as 20,000 per month being issued to sailors from Indonesia, China, India and the Philippines amongst many other locations.

Speaking on the achievement, a departmental spokesperson said that the 1 million mark was certainly a milestone considering the recent introduction of the initiative.

"The MCV is specifically for crew entering by sea and allows multiple entries during its three-year life. Visa holders are then permitted to continue work in relation to the usual operational requirements of the ship while they are in Australia," said the spokesperson.

Part of the success of the scheme was attributed to the online application process, with nearly 60 per cent of applications being granted this way.

According to the DIAC, only 40 per cent require additional assessment through its processing centres.

However, the delays caused by these manual screenings may cause disruptions to a ships itinerary - highlighting the importance of gaining advice from a migration lawyer before applying for international visas.

The scheme has been highly successful, enjoying a 99.8 per cent compliance rate since its inception three years ago.

According to the departmental spokesperson, this is due in no small part to the efforts of important external stakeholders.

"This is testament to the support the visa has had from the shipping industry, crew manning agents, shipping operators and foreign crew themselves," said the spokesperson.

The DIAC reports that a number of innovative changes may also have played a factor in the success of the MCV in regulating the movements of foreign sailors and maritime workers.

Aside from the online process, a new streamlined form lets applicants fill out their details faster and allows officers to process the information faster, allowing for a quicker turnaround - with most digital submissions being finalised within a few days.

While the absence of an application fee and faster response times means that businesses involved in maritime activities can operate on a narrower timeframe, delays can still be costly.

To help reduce the need for manual processing, an immigration lawyer can provide firms with up front advice on the full requirements of the MCV scheme.