Australian Economy

Australia Visa: Australia to step up visa processing of skilled workers

To address a shortfall of skilled workers, the Australian immigration minister has directed the Department of Home Affairs to accelerate visa applications.

On Wednesday, Andrew Giles, the new government’s minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs, announced that clearing the backlog of visa applications is the primary concern.

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He remarked that the “extraordinary” delay in processing visa applications has been raised for years by the community and the former government.

“Processing outstanding visa applications is a priority for the Australian government. I have raised my concerns with the current state of visa processing with the Department of Home Affairs, and we are committed to ensuring that visa applications are processed in a timely manner.”

According to him, the previous government did not release data on the number of skilled worker visa applications that had been submitted.

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However, from a high of 195,000 in 2014 to 96,000 in 2022, the total number of skilled temporary visa holders in Australia has shrunk. Employers are dealing with “protracted” processing timeframes for skilled migrants, according to Andrew McKellar, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).

He further said that more resources are needed to cut down on long visa processing waits. “The current delays just aren’t good enough when so many businesses are left without staff and therefore can’t afford to stay open,” Mr McKellar added. “To make the skilled migration system more accessible and responsible, we need to open employer sponsored migration up to all skilled occupations.”

Since 2018, the wait time for the 476 visa, which is designed for recent engineering graduates who want to live, work, or study in Australia for up to 18 months, has increased to a whopping 41 months.

People like Gurpreet Kaur, an engineer from Punjab, have been waiting for almost four years, submitting and resubmitting papers and evidence while unable to talk directly with anyone in the home affairs department about the progress of her application.

“I personally applied for this visa back in September 2018 and am still waiting for my visa grant,” Kaur told the Guardian. “Despite meeting all the criteria, paying the application fee, medical assessment fees, there are still a lot of applicants like me from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh and many more countries … about 6,000 applicants are waiting for their grant.

“Waiting for three to four years, it’s a really frustrating situation and I think it’s a moral duty of any government, because this is unfair to us. We have planned all our career plans, we are suffering, not only professionally but it is a mental depression also.”

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