May 28th, 2019
The MIA recently met with the Department of Home Affairs/Immigration and discussed some of the backlog of applications
The following is some information provided by the MIA from this meeting
The approval rates have stabilised to around 92%. Processing times are generally around a couple of days to several weeks, depending upon whether the employer is accredited or ‘known’ to the Department.
There remain about 700-800 cases awaiting processing. Some of these will probably still take time to resolve given the complexities involved – health and character concerns, for example.
Decision maker Staff
The Department currently has a staff of 2,500 visa and citizenship decision makers.
An additional 100 processing staff have been hired to assist in the backlog of over 250,000 citizenship applications.
Members will have noticed that recently lodged ENS/RSMS applications are being processed faster than those lodged some time ago. The Department confirms there are two processing teams managing this caseload. A specialist team has been setup in Melbourne to process newer applications.
The Department indicated that they are now processing decision ready, low risk ENS/RSMS cases as a priority as a means of increasing efficiency.
We did raise the issue of case officers applying current MR5.19 requirements with the older caseload lodged before LMT became a requirement for RSMS Direct Entry nominations. The Department will investigate this further.
RSMS applications under processing – 24,000
ENS applications under processing – 30,000
Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa (subclass 870)
At the date of the meeting, 400 sponsorship applications had been submitted. While it is surprising that the figure is relatively low; it was felt that perhaps people might be holding off and waiting for the election results; as Labour had undertaken to relax the Temporary Parent Visa should they be elected.
We raised our concerns about the lack of detailed regulations and policy not being released in a timely manner prior to commencement of the sponsorship; and pointed out there were flaws within the online application.
The Department was intending to commence processing applications within 2 weeks of sponsorships being available (around the 3rd week in May).
The Department fully expects that the Subclass 870 visa may be used as an interim measure by parents waiting for the processing of their 173/143 applications. 870 visa applicants will not be refused on GTE grounds where 173/143 applications have been lodged.
Sponsorship arrangements to be rolled out to Partner and other Family Visas
It is intended that the new Sponsorship Legislation will in time be rolled out across other classes of family visas. At this stage, NO arrangements are in place to introduce the new sponsorship arrangements for partner visas.
We pointed out the 6-month provision within the enabling legislation. The Assistant Secretary, Skilled & Family Visa Program Branch stated that, regarding Partner Visas, the 6 months would commence when other regulations had been tabled for the new Partner Visas. Given the Caretaker conventions, there was no indication of when any future partner visa legislation would be drafted and introduced to Parliament.
We have received more recent advice on this matter, and it appears that there is still no implementation date for the Partner Visa changes at present.
We were also advised that Policy Instructions would be released before the implementation date of the new Partner Visa.
Current Partner visas
1st Stage – 82,000 applications are in the pipeline.
2nd Stage – 156,000 applications are in the pipeline.
Applications now ready for 2nd stage processing – 35,000.
The Department confirmed that they are doing everything possible to facilitate the smooth transition to permanent residency, given the long processing times of the partner visas.
The Migration program planning levels for 2019-20 for partner stream is 39,799 visas. We will leave it to members to do their own math.
Retirement Visas – Transition Pathway from 405 and 410 to 103 and 804.
These are being processed with 6 weeks to 3 months.
16 November 2019 changes to Skilled Migration
The Department undertook to provide policy instructions by 16 October 2019.