Priority visa processing for Australian emigration - here to stay until at least 2010

Australian skilled visa

Priority processing looks to be set as a fixed aspect
of the Australian emigration process.

Priority visa processing is a topic we keep going back to, but given the impact it's had on the Australian emigration process and that we've recently received an official update on priority processing from the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), it still seems worth writing about.

I'm referring specifically to a piece of correspondence sent by DIAC to some applicants who are still in the process of lodging their application for General Skilled Migration. In it, DIAC made it very clear that priority visa processing is here to stay until at least the end of the program year in 2010.

The letter emphasised that visa applications will continue to be processed in the following order:

  1. Employer sponsorship;
  2. State or Territory sponsorship;
  3. An occupation on the Critical Skills List (CSL);
  4. An occupation on the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL); AND
  5. All other applications in date of lodgement order.

Unsurprisingly, employer and government sponsored visa applications will continue to be given the utmost priority, as well as applicants who are CSL-listed (i.e. Groups 1-3 on the processing priority order).

However, DIAC also stated the following in regards to when the other Groups would enter processing:

"It is unlikely at this stage that applications which fall in Groups 1-3 will be exhausted in the 2009-10 Migration Program year and processing of Groups 4 and 5 will be delayed until this has occurred."

Therefore, any Group 4 or 5 applicants will be forced to continue waiting for at least another year, unless they apply for and receive sponsorship from an Australian employer, State or Territory.

While this might be unfortunate news for the many Group 4 or 5 applicants who have been waiting for some hope from DIAC, it at least comes as a sign that priority processing is here to stay. One of the most difficult parts of working with the Australian emigration process is being unsure which parts of the process are permanent and those that are 'flash-in-the-pan' stop-gap initiatives.

With the assurance that priority processing will be fixed for at least the next year, this gives us the chance to work with it and help our clients continue through the process.

The DIAC correspondence also provided a good reminder for any Accountants or Computing Professionals who are applying for Australian emigration. Both these nominated occupations are CSL-listed, but are subject to further criteria. Remember though, it's not enough to just meet these criteria; you've got to make sure you let DIAC know too!

CSL criteria for Accountants 

Accountants (ASCO: 2211-11) are only eligible for Group 3 priority if they have:

  • Provided evidence of 'Proficient English'; OR
  • Completed a Professional Year in Australia through the Skilled Migration Internship Program Accounting (SMIPA) program.

Even though British, American, Canadian, New Zealand and Republic of Ireland passport holders are automatically assigned a level of 'Competent English', they are required to score 7.0 in each component of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test in order to demonstrate evidence of 'Proficient English'.

If you are an Accountant and you are now able to provide evidence of your IELTS test result with a score of at least 7.0 in each component, you can email DIAC directly or use the post lodgement enquiry system with this evidence attached to receive CSL status and be acknowledged as a Group 3 priority applicant.

CSL criteria for Computing Professionals

If your nominated occupation is Computing Professional (ASCO: 2231-79) but you do not have a MODL-listed computing specialisation, then you will not be eligible to be CSL-listed and receive Group 3 processing priority.

However, to make sure you don't 'fall between the cracks', make sure you let DIAC know that you have one of these specialistions by using the post lodgement enquiry system.

- Lauren Mennie is Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau