Australia: Millionth maritime crew visa granted

Australia’s seaports are more secure than ever before, highlighted by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s grant this week of the millionth maritime crew visa (MCV).

“This is an impressive milestone given that the department first introduced the MCV on 1 January 2008,” a departmental spokesman said.

Since its introduction, all foreign shipping crew are required to apply for the visa, which involves a formal visa application process.

This process strengthens border protection at Australian ports by allowing for security checking as with other temporary entrants. Prior to the MCV’s introduction, crew accessed special purpose visa arrangements that did not involve a formal application process.

“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,” the spokesman said.

The top nationalities using the visas include Filipino, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and Ukrainian. In an average month, up to 20 000 MCVs are granted.

“The MCV scheme has maintained an impressive compliance rate of 99.8 per cent since its inception. This is testament to the support the visa has had from the shipping industry, crew manning agents, shipping operators and foreign crew themselves,” the spokesman said.

More than 60 per cent of maritime crew visas are applied for and granted online, while about 40 per cent are referred to the department’s global processing centre for additional manual assessment and processing.

Major factors that have contributed to the overall success of the MCV include the streamlined application form and processing arrangements, the absence of an application fee and the timeliness of decision-making. Most electronically lodged applications are finalised within a few days, if not immediately upon receipt.