The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), Chris Bowen MP, has set new priority processing arrangements for certain skilled migration visas. These arrangements include the new skilled visa subclasses introduced in the skilled migration reforms and continue to give regional employer sponsored visas the highest processing priority.
The priority processing arrangements enable the department to consider and finalise visa applications in an order of priority that the minister considers appropriate.
The new priority processing arrangements apply to applications for the following visas:
- Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)
- Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)
- certain points based skilled migration.
From 1 July 2012, processing priorities (with highest priority listed first) are:
- Applications from people who are sponsored under the RSMS program
- Applications from people who are sponsored under the ENS program
- Applications from people who are nominated by a state or territory government agency
- Applications from people who have nominated an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) – Schedule 1 in effect from 1 July 2012 See: Skilled occupation List
- All other applications.
Applications for visa subclasses 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, or 489 which are lodged through SkillSelect will be given the highest priority within each priority processing group.
The changes to priority processing arrangements address the needs of industry by targeting skills in demand across a number of sectors, while ensuring that the Skilled Migration Program is responsive to the current economic climate and the needs of the Australian economy.
Priority processing arrangements are subject to changes in response to Australia’s economic situation and do not change visa eligibility criteria.
Priority processing arrangements apply to current applications, including those in the final stages of processing. Departmental case officers must follow the direction made by the Minister about priority processing and cannot process applications outside of the set order.
Refunds of costs incurred during processing are not available for delays in processing. Applicants are not entitled to a refund of their Visa Application Charge (VAC) or compensation for other costs incurred in making an application.
Priority processing groups
RSMS, ENS and state or territory nominated applications—priority groups 1, 2 and 3
Applications from people who are applying under the RSMS are processed as priority group 1. ENS are processed as priority group 2. Applications from people who are nominated by a state or territory government agency under a state migration plan receive the third highest level of priority processing.
Occupations on the SOL – Schedule 1 in effect at 1 July 2012—priority group 4
All skilled migration applicants with a nominated occupation on the SOL – Schedule 1 are included in priority group 4. This includes both independent and family sponsored applications. Existing applicants with a nominated occupation added to the SOL will be allocated to case officers before more recently lodged applications in this priority group.
All other applications—priority group 5
Skilled migration applicants with a nominated occupation that is not on the SOL and who are not nominated by a state or territory government under a state migration plan will be processed under priority group 5.
Applicants should not contact the department to request that their application be exempt from the priority processing direction. Case officers do not have discretion to exempt applications.
Applicants with a nominated occupation removed from the SOL who have already been allocated a case officer will be contacted directly by their case officer. Applicants with a nominated occupation removed from the SOL who were not allocated to a case officer before 1 July 2012 will only be allocated to a case officer when applications from higher priority groups have been allocated.
Many priority group 5 applicants still face a considerable wait until their application is allocated to a case officer for processing and may wish to consider other options.
Options available to applicants in priority group 5
Visa applicants currently in priority group 5 may want to:
- submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) in SkillSelect – if invited to apply, this would require a new visa application including payment of the relevant VAC See: SkillSelect
- continue to await a decision on their visa application
- consider their eligibility for an employer sponsored visa, which would require a new visa application including payment of the relevant VAC
- consider their eligibility for nomination by a state or territory government under a state migration plan, which may require a new visa application
- apply for another substantive visa
- withdraw their application.
Applicants who decide to withdraw their application are not entitled to a refund of the VAC or compensation for other costs incurred in making an application.
Courtesty of DIAC