Christmas comes early for Australia visa applicants caught by processing changes?

A number of skilled visa applicants left in
limbo after the processing changes could
soon see their visas finalised by DIAC

Good news could finally be on the horizon for a number of the skilled Australia visa applicants caught by the processing changes made on 23 September, 2009. 

An official announcement is yet to be made, but there are now strong indications from the Department of Immigration of Citizenship (DIAC) that certain offshore State/Territory Sponsored skilled visa applicants in non-Critical Skills List (CSL) occupations are going to be processed in the next few months.

To give some background, the 23 September changes order of processing priorities put much greater importance on processing applications with a nominated occupation on the CSL, which can be summarised as follows:


If your nominated occupation is on the CSL and you have applied for an onshore or offshore GSM visa it is estimated that your application will be finalised within 12 months from your lodgement date.


If your nominated occupation is not on the CSL and you have applied for an offshore GSM visa it is unlikely that your visa will be finalised before the end of 2012."

Essentially, this left anyone without a nominated occupation on the CSL with a considerable wait before DIAC would finalise their visa application, regardless of where they were in the Australia immigration process

As a result, anyone applying through the State or Territory sponsorship pathway who had been asked to arrange police and medical checks prior to the announcement was left in a particularly frustrating position, as the changes took thousands of applicants from being just weeks or months away from receiving a visa grant to a situation where they would have to wait until approx. 2012 to have their application finalised.

Additionally, as medical examinations and police clearance certificates have a validity of 12 months such applicants were faced with the additional cost of arranging repeat medicals and police certificates, making the situation even more unfair.

Which applicants will DIAC start processing?

While there has been no official announcement yet, reports are coming in from migration agents and other individuals who have been in correspondence with the Department of Immigration that DIAC is now in a position to make a start on processing State or Territory sponsored applications who had been asked to arrange police and medical checks before 23 September, with such applications set to be processed in chronological order of receipt, regardless of the visa subclass applied for (i.e. subclasses 176 and 475).

We'll have to wait until the Department of Immigration make a solid announcement before being able to really gauge just how good this news is, and it's important to remember that the number of people with the potential to be affected is still relatively slight; approx. 3,500 people of the 2009/10 General Skilled Migration program which has 108,100 places. However, it's still an excellent sign that DIAC is showing a willingness to rectify their mistakes and make for a fairer migration process.

Once we have further information, we'll contact our clients directly to let them know exactly what the changes are, but do look out for further updates on the blog as and when they come in.

- Jodie List is a Senior Caseworker for the Australian Visa Bureau