The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about all kinds of challenges to all aspects of life. The Australian immigration program has not been spared and the pandemic has been taking a toll on it. This is evidenced by the large processing backlog currently hindering migrants hoping to come to Australia. In fact, many applications lodged during the pandemic over the last 2 years, including applications for visas in Subclasses 482, 400 and 407 have been pending since lodgement, with some in excess of 12 to 18 months.

Many who are already in the country and are waiting for their visa to be processed find themselves stuck onshore on a Bridging visa. Their Bridging visa puts limitations on their rights to travel out of Australia, even with the Australian travel ban lifted since 21 February 2022. As such, many families have been forced to live separately in the last 1 to 2 years.

The Department of Home Affairs has acknowledged that they are currently facing a backlog of applications from about 140,000 skilled workers wanting to come to Australia. The Australian Government also warns that due to COVID-19, some visa processing times have been affected and applications may take longer to finalise.

Global visa processing times are updated on a monthly basis to provide prospective visa holders and visa applications with an indicative timeframe for processing applications. However, processing times are not available for all visa subclasses.

Other circumstances that can affect processing times include:

  • whether a complete application was lodged
  • how promptly requests for more information are responded to
  • how long it takes to perform required check on supporting information provided
  • how long it takes to receive information from external agencies and
  • for permanent migration visa applications, how many places are available in the program.

The unfortunate news does not end there. While Australia has begun to process pending visa applications, the Department of Home Affairs is currently prioritising visas for those with an urgent need for travel, non-citizens with compelling and compassionate circumstances and those with critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services. As such, processing times could increase further for those who lodged their visa applications in the last 2 years.

If you are a client of Hammond Taylor and the processing of your visa application is affected by the Department of Home Affair's backlog, please contact us and we will assist to submit documents to request for your application to be reviewed.

While we complete this process to support our clients, do understand that the Department of Home Affairs is experiencing a bottle neck in processing.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.