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Australia rolls out SSVF, 10-year visa to China

In his first ever visit to China, Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull courted Chinese tourists and students by introducing fewer student visa categories and piloting a 10-year visitor visa.

"The better we understand each other, the more opportunities for further engagement at every level– social, academic, economic, commercial," Turnbull told a Chinese delegation in Shanghai.

One million Chinese visitors contributed A$8.3bn to the economy last year

Speaking in Shanghai, Turnbull said the Simplified Student Visa Framework, announced last July, would be available to Chinese applicants to make it more “straightforward and easier” for students to apply to study in Australia.

SSVF will replace the Streamlined Visa Processing arrangement. It will reduce the number of student visa categories from eight to two and simplify a range of enrolment and financial requirements, and those relating to visas previously held.

“For the first time, we are trialling applications, visa applications, in a language other than English”

Chinese students and tourists will also be able to complete their visa applications online and in Mandarin.

“For the first time, we are trialling applications, visa applications, in a language other than English,” confirmed Turnbull.

Ten-year validity visas are also being piloted and if implemented, would put Australia alongside the US, Canada and Singapore on the list of countries that offer Chinese visitors a 10-year visa.

Tourists holding 10-year visas will be entitled to up to three months stay on each entry, the government has said.

China is Australia’s most valuable tourism market accounting for more than one million visitors last year that contributed A$8.3bn to the economy.

Chinese students also dominate international numbers on Australian campuses. Last year, the country welcomed 93,000 Chinese students out of its total 377,973 international cohort.

The ease in visa requirements, said Turnbull, show Australia’s commitment to strengthening the relationship between the two countries.

“The more Chinese come to Australia, Australians go to China, the closer we become together, the better we understand each other, the more opportunities for further engagement at every level– social, academic, economic, commercial,” he said.

“The more Chinese come to Australia, Australians go to China, the closer we become together”

The prime minister also declared 2017 will be the Australia-China year of tourism and launched a mobile digital platform targeting the 700 million smartphone users in China.

The app aims to attract holiday seekers to Australia by allowing users to virtually experience visiting the country.

Turnbull’s visit coincide with the largest ever trade mission to China from Australia including 1,000 business leaders.

Turnbull called the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect last December, “the highest quality free trade agreement China has entered into with any comparable nation”.

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