New Priority Processing Arrangements for General Skilled Migration Applications

Date: Nov 01, 2009
Document Type: Newsletter

The Migration Act 1958 (Cth) provides the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship with the authority to set the order of priority for considering and finalising visa applications. The Minister recently set new priority processing arrangements for certain skilled migration visas.

These new arrangements apply to applications which have been lodged but not yet finalised and to applications lodged with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on or after 23 September 2009. Priority processing applies to onshore and offshore applications equally, although there can be difference in processing times depending on where the application is lodged.

The following processing priorities (with the highest priority listed first) apply:

  1. applicants who are employer sponsored under the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS);
  2. applicants who are nominated by a state or territory government and whose nominated occupation is listed on the Critical Skills List (CSL);
  3. applicants who are sponsored by family and whose nominated occupation is listed on the CSL;
  4. applicants who are neither nominated nor sponsored but whose nominated occupation is listed on the CSL;
  5. applicants who are nominated by a State/Territory government whose nominated occupation is not listed on the CSL;
  6. applicants whose occupations are listed on the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) and applicants who are sponsored by family and whose nominated occupation is not listed on the CSL;
  7. all other applicants will be processed in the order in which they are received.

The Minister also set priority processing arrangements for the Subclass 485 (Skilled – Graduate) visa. Previously this visa subclass was exempt from priority arrangements. The following processing priorities (with highest priority listed first) apply:

  1. applicants who have completed an Australian Doctor of Philosophy (PHD) at an Australian educational institution in Australia;
  2. applicants who have nominated an occupation on the CSL;
  3. applicants who have completed an Australian Bachelor degree and Australian Masters degree at an Australian educational institution in Australia;
  4. applicants who have completed an Australian Bachelor degree and Australian Honours degree (at least upper second class level) at an Australian educational institution in Australia;
  5. applicants who have completed an Australian Bachelor degree or Australian Masters degree at an Australian educational institution in Australia;
  6. all other valid applications will be processed in the order in which they are received.

The only general skilled migration visa subclasses which are exempt from priority processing are the following:

  • skilled – recognised graduate subclass 476;
  • skilled – designated area – sponsored (residence) subclass 883; and
  • skilled – regional subclass 887.

These three visa subclasses will be processed in the order received.

The effect of the new processing arrangements is that the CSL occupations have become more important than state sponsored applications. If an applicant’s nominated occupation is not on the CSL, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship has estimated that it is unlikely that the visa application will be finalised before the end of 2011 if the application was lodged onshore, or before the end of 2012 if lodged offshore.

The new priority processing arrangements may have a significant effect on applications which have already been lodged with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. For those applications now falling in a lower priority group, the new priority list will result in a longer wait even if the application was in the final stages of processing. Applications in a lower priority group will not be processed further until applications in higher priority groups have been finalised.

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