Backlog of skilled worker visas exceeds 16,000 applications

A couple who filed the required documents for the 887 visa in January 2021 said The Australian Financial Review Monday, they haven’t heard from the ministry since.

“We are not considered for many jobs that we have experience and are qualified for because we have to be permanent residents or citizens to be considered,” the husband and wife said.

“It is a constant source of concern for us as the processing time keeps getting delayed. Previously it was approved in 10 months but now it takes over two years.

“It’s not fair that a simple residency check for two years and work experience takes more than 25 months.”

Freedom of Information data showed that 13,232 applications were in process at the department in March for the qualified independent visa subclass 189 stream. The visa covers guest workers, as well as New Zealand citizens and eligible British nationals from Hong Kong and overseas with skills in demand in Australia.

During the period July 2021 to February 2022, Home Affairs approved more than 69,600 applications for partner visas, child visas, skilled worker visas and elderly relatives.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said the federal government was working on solutions to resolve the long backlog. Civil servants have been redirected to visa processing, away from other functions, since the election.

“We are working on the size of the backlog and thinking about policy options as well as resource allocations needed to get things done,” Giles said.

The Australian Financial Review reported this month that an $875 million budget cut to the Interior Department is expected to further blow already stretched visa wait times and increase pressure on businesses waiting for workers to arrive and tourists.

The median short-term temporary qualified visa is currently taking 83 days to finalize, down from 53 days in March.

A quarter of applications take at least a year to process, while the slowest 10% of qualified temporary visas take 15 months to process.

“I’m obviously looking very carefully first and foremost at what can be done here and now because I think what businesses want and what visa applicants want is faster processing times today, as well as to look over the horizon to this thoughtful vision, which will be linked to the jobs and skills summit, the white paper on full employment and of course the budget which will be presented in October,” Mr Giles told the ABC radio.

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