Visa backlog with one million on hold
Updated: Aug 2, 2022
In a first step to coping with the backlog of visas the Home Affairs Department will outsource aspects of its visa processing services in anticipation of an explosion in the number of applications now that borders have reopened. The visa backlog is expected to surpass one million.
Just in February and March this year 350,000 visa applications were lodged while last year each month averaged only 27,000 applications.
These visa applicants will help to meet shortages in many different sectors, including those areas hardest hit such as health, education, aged care, retail, construction, manufacturing and transport.
To reduce application times, a private company will be employed to collect and verify biometric information, this information is to be collected at overseas processing centres.
It is expected that this new system will be in place by March next year. However, decision making on applications will not be outsourced.
In the meantime, the Federal government has indicated that it will prioritise the processing of around 60,000 permanent visa applications lodged by skilled workers based overseas. These are workers with qualifications in the health, education and aged care.
“Having a big, strong economy can help us deliver secure, high-paying jobs for years to come. Fixing our immigration system will help us do just that, but first we’ve got to get the system moving again,” Home Affairs minister Clare O'Neil said.
“That’s why we’re quickly clearing the visa backlog and working together with our skills and training system to upskill a generation of Australians and set our nation up for the future.”
The Australian Financial Review noted that “the stretched departmental resources will be diverted from processing the generally lower skilled permanent visa applications lodged by temporary visa holder already in Australia, so applications by more highly skilled workers overseas can go to the front of the queue”.
Since June more than 600,000 temporary and permanent visa applications were processed with processing times also reduced substantially.
Business and employers have called for a two-year increase in skilled migration to 200,000 per year.