Australian Visa Rules Abuse

The Chosun Ilbo of Korea notes in an article about Prostitutes, Traffickers Abusing Australian Visa Rules that many Korean women are lured to Australia by unscrupulous Koreans on working holiday visas and that these women end up working in Korean Salons and in brothels in Australia for a year or two. Some women know the eventual destination of their travel, others are duped.

Apart from the appalling issue of the human trafficking that this involves, what really annoys me is that these practices make it so much more difficult to get visa approvals for genuine travel, especially for residents of other countries, especially those that are considered high-risk.

I also get annoyed with what can only be seen as some discrimination within the Australian Immigration Department. For example, somewhere between 40 and 60% of all visa applications for Mongolians to travel to Australia are rejected by the Australian Embassy in Beijing. Around 20% of the applications from the Chinese are rejected. It should be noted that both Mongolians and Chinese are the same risk group as far as Immigration Officials of Australia are concerned.

So, why the statistical anomaly? Are we in Australia really so frightened of 2,500,000 Mongolians? Chinggis Khaan did, after all, die about 800 years ago, surely we do not need to fear them any more?

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China International Travel Service (CITS)

The word “International” is somewhat odd in the title of this company as it is “sort of” international. Mind you, I had to deal with them the other day. I went to the CITS Office upstairs at the Beijing International Hotel to buy a train ticket from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar. This went well and when tendering my International VISA Card I was told that 4% would be added to cover the fee. “OK” says I. I am used to that from a number of places now and whilst I would normally use cash as much as possible, I did not have the CNY 999.00 with me at the time.

The staff in the office calculated the 4% as follows:

999 yuan divide by 0.96 equals 1040.63 yuan – which was what was billed to my credit card.

I told the staff “but that is 4.17% added, not 4%”! From my point of view, if you add 4%, then the following calculation is performed:

999 yuan multiplied by 1.04 equals 1038.96 yuan.

They replied that dividing by 0.96 was the way that their Head Office had explained that they do it. Maybe mathematics works differently here.

I did have a few days spare though so thought I would slip down to Hong Kong for a couple of days. There is a train from Beijing to Kowloon in Hong Kong. “Can I buy a ticket for the train to Hong Kong here?” I asked. “No” was the answer. “You need to buy that from either Beijing Station or West Station”.

More on that matter in another blog entry.

So, I returned to the hotel with my train ticket to Ulaanbaatar. There is a CITS office in my hotel as well so I thought I would ask about the train to Hong Kong. After an original “yes we can” that changed to a “no, you need to get that from the train station”. More on the train station later.

“Fly me to Hong Kong” I said. CITS organised my ticket. I whipped out my International VISA Card (see earlier in this entry).

” I am sorry sir, we cannot take international VISA cards here, only local cards – this is our company policy. Can you pay cash please?”

Sigh!

So I went and got a fist full of dollars (sorry, yuan) from the bank and came back and paid for my ticket.

So, one branch of CITS selling train tickets can use international VISA cards adding 4.17% on, whilst another branch of CITS cannot.

Seems China has this only half done. It will be fun when there are a flood of Olympic Visitors in 835 days time to China, especially as VISA is a sponsor (I think) of the Olympics.

Train Travel, Visas and Related Matters

There will be a long tale updated to the Hole soon concerning Thomo’s Train Trip on the Mongolian Express to Erlian in China and back. 60 hours I was away from Ulaanbaatar and 30 of those hours were spent either in a train or on a station waiting for a train. Thrill a minute … not! Look out for it in the Hole. It’ll be under the title “Nara … I’m Bored!”

The reason for the train trip? My visa was not correct so I had to leave the country so that the government could formally invite me to return to the country to work here. Yep, I know but I had to leave the country to do it. Note: If you ever need to do this – do not listen to your office. Fly to Seoul instead! The article can be found under the title of “Nara … I’m Bored!“. Part Two is available as well!