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MSAR and Australia sign first deal on immigration issues

The first Memorandum of Understanding on immigration cooperation between Macau SAR and Australia was signed yesterday at the MSAR Immigration Department Building. It will take effect next week, facilitating greater exchange between respective immigration and border control authorities.

“Mostly [the memorandum] is aimed at providing training and capacity building, so that each of the immigration agencies can understand the other’s process better,” said the Consul-General. “Macau and Australia have already demonstrated a strong desire to cooperate on immigration matters. This memorandum will serve to further develop the framework.”

“Australia will lend its technical expertise, supporting senior Macau immigration officers to tackle passport and visa fraud,” announced the Council-General. “I’m sure Australia can learn also from Macau in terms of the way it handles the very large number of visitors that come to Macau.”

Commissioner Lei Siu Peng of Macau’s Public Security Police Force (PSP) and Mr Paul Tighe, the Australian Consul-General to Hong Kong, sealed the arrangement at the signing ceremony, acting on behalf of the Immigration Department of Macau SAR and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection of Australia respectively.

When discussing the increase of visitors to Macau and different challenges, Lei acknowledged that it is essential to enhance the capability of Macau’s border checkpoints and the professional quality of immigration personnel. “The memorandum marks the unprecedented cooperation between Australia and the Macau SAR government in the areas of immigration, training and experience sharing.

Nevertheless, with the signing of the memorandum, I look forward to enhancing the overall level of our police officers to meet with international standards, and to provide a safer and better service to visitors,” continued Lei. He added that similar agreements with other countries are expected in the near future.

According to the PSP, both parties conceived the agreement in 2011. It covers collaboration in areas including the establishment of formal channels of communication, developing professional training programs on a regular basis, and sharing information and the best practices of combating human trafficking and irregular migration. Staff reporter

Canberra may adopt more online lodgments for visas

Australia will explore the possibility of “online lodgment” in its visa processing service in the future, but has yet to provide a timetable, says the Australian Council-General Mr. Paul Tighe.
Since last July, MSAR passport holders and all other Macau residents, regardless of their country of origin, were introduced to “label-free visa” arrangements by the Australian government. Visa applicants no longer need a physical visa label placed in their passport. Passengers’ computerized visa records are available to airline staff at airports for verification upon checking in to board a flight to Australia. This applies to all visa types, including tourist, business, student and migration visas.

“We are always looking for ways to improve the efficiency of our visa processing services. ‘Online lodgment’ is something we will look at over time. For the moment, we have just recently introduced ‘label-free visas’ for Macau people travelling to Australia. So that is an example of the sort of thing we might be able to do more often in the future,” Mr Paul Tighe told the media on the sidelines of a signing ceremony yesterday, adding that, currently, “all visitors to Australia require a visa in some form, and that won’t change anytime soon.”

 

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