Student, visitor, temporary skilled visas to be fast tracked

Home Affairs to dedicate more staff to address visa backlog

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With nearly 1,000,000 visas pending with the Department of Home Affairs, the Albanese government has directed the department to devote more staff to address this backlog.

The processing of student visas, visitor visas, and temporary skilled visas will be prioritised, to assist with the country’s labour shortages and contribute to economic growth.

In May, nearly 140 new staff who previously focused on travel exemptions were redirected to visa processing.

This will be welcome news to those who were waiting in limbo to see the outcome of their visa applications.

Equally, businesses facing shortage of staff will be looking forward to a new pool of applicants, following this announcement.

According to the statement by Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles, 745,000 visas have been finalised since the beginning of June 2022, including over 645,000 offshore applications.

“The number of applications received in June 2022 is 6.5 per cent higher than May 2022 – over the same period, there was a 10.6 per cent increase in applications finalised,” Minister Giles said.

“The processing of visas will continue to be a major priority for this Government – but reducing the backlog of applications can’t happen overnight.”

As per global visa processing times on the Department of Home Affairs website, 90 per cent of student visas (higher education sector) could take seven months to be finalised. Student visas for postgraduate research could take up to eight months.

The majority of tourist visas are processed in 37 days while sponsored family visitors could take up to 50 days.

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) has welcomed the minister’s announcement.

FECCA Chairperson Carlo Carli said the progress to address the visa backlog so far is “no mean feat” while noting that in May, bridging visa numbers reached 354,171 (mostly held by people waiting to become permanent residents.)

“We encourage the government to view immigration as a nation-building project and ensure the balance between permanent and temporary migration is addressed. In recent years, the emphasis on temporary migration and treatment of temporary migrants has had significant impacts on Australia’s multicultural national identity.”

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