Gold Coast is receiving the most applications for visas from its neighbours, with 1,923 per cent of all the visa applications in the country so far this year.
The city has been singled out as one of the busiest ports for visa applications from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, according to a new report by the Bureau of Immigration.
The bureau’s data on visa applications, released on Friday, found Gold Coast received an average of 1,868 applications from overseas for a total of 1.45,000 visas.
The city’s numbers were well above any other place in Australia, with Auckland (1,063) and Hobart (934) rounding out the top three, with Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide all in the top 20.
The bureau also found that while Gold Coast had seen a rise in applications for visa cards, they were lower than the national average.
In fact, applications for Gold Coast visas fell by 0.5 per cent from the same period last year, which was the second lowest decrease in the nation.
The drop in visa applications came at the same time the city was getting fewer applications for green cards and refugee visas.
Bureau says ‘no sign of an end to surge’ to immigration in Queensland Gold Coast Mayor Bill Wylie said the figures were disappointing but not surprising.
“I don’t see any sign of any end to the surge of people coming to our city from overseas,” he said.
“I’m happy for the people coming in, I’m happy that we’re receiving the highest number of people from the region.
But we’re not seeing an increase in applications, which is a sign of a more active processing system and a system that is working.”
Gold Coast City Council executive director Richard Aylmer said the report had raised some important questions.
He said the community’s concerns over visa cards had been well-founded, with some councils issuing new requirements for visitors from countries such as Iran and Syria.
“It’s an issue that the community is getting quite heated about,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane.
Mr Aylman said the council had been looking at the issue for some time and had no intention of changing its current rules, which require applicants to have been in Australia for 12 months.
“The council has been looking into this issue and the community has had a very active role in trying to find solutions, but they’re very, very busy,” he added.
Wylie and Mr Ayler said the government had been working hard to make visa cards available to all visitors from overseas.
“[The visa cards] are not a new policy,” he explained.
They are a part of the national resettlement program, he said, adding that the number of applications had been on the decline in recent years.
“We have the lowest visa application rate in the region, which means the number that’s being approved is not getting through the system as quickly as it should be,” he concluded.