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Free passage for practising pilgrims


Visa cheats will not stand a chance at using World Youth Day to become illegal citizens after the Sydney Archdiocese and the Federal Government agreed to weed out "fake" pilgrims in exchange for the waiving of visa application fees.

Under an agreement signed by the Department of Immigration and the Church, those wishing to attend WYD in July will have to present a letter of endorsement from their local bishop to have their fees waived.

The Age reports Bishops will be asked to confirm that the person applying for a visa is a well-known and active member of their local Church.

Bishops will also be asked to vouch that the applicant is "aware of the importance of complying with the conditions of the visa" including the requirement to leave Australia on its expiry, a spokesman for the department said.

"As was the case with other major events, anyone applying to attend World Youth Day would also be assessed for the security and immigration risk that they might pose," the spokesman said.

However, the spokesman added there was nothing to stop people attending World Youth Day from lawfully seeking asylum once they were in Australia.

Some 140,000 international visitors are expected to attend World Youth Day from about 150 countries.

SOURCE
Canberra takes early strike at religious visa cheats (The Age 23/01/08)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
World Youth Day

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Bishop Fisher unveils WYD plan (CathNews 10/7/06)

23 Jan 2008