COVID-19 almost brought the world to a halt, and it has had the same effect on Australian visa applications. Australian visas are still being processed, however it is evident that the current global pandemic is having some impact.
The MIA (Migration Institute of Australia) and its members are the authority and benchmark for informed, trusted and respected migration practice and leadership. Visa Go Australia’s licensed Migration Agent Darren Chatt MARN:0211214 is a long-standing MIA member.
Last month the MIA surveyed its members on visa processing trends during COVID-19. “The purpose of collecting this data is to obtain a clearer understanding of the characteristics of application grants or refusals and permission to enter Australia requests for the information of MIA members,” the MIA said.
The number of responses MIA received was relatively low, so it is not possible to state that these results represent processing trends. However, the data is useful in providing insight during this current time.
Key findings from MIA survey:
- Processing has slowed and more onshore applications are being granted than offshore (a rate of 5:1).
- Critical sector occupations are being prioritised onshore.
- Case Officers appear to be issuing more ‘requests for further information’ in relation to employer-sponsored applications, checking that roles are still necessary in the current climate.
- Members report that employer-sponsored 482, 186 and 187 are being granted more frequently than other subclasses, even though fewer are coming through than earlier in the year.
- At the moment, 801 partner visas are the second most frequently granted visa type.
- Practitioners have seen a small number of 491 and 489 visa approvals for onshore applicants.
- There are reports of subclass 500 and 485 approvals coming through for onshore applicants.
- ‘Registered Nurse’ is the occupation that has seen the largest number of grants.
Furthermore, these key findings are representative of what we are seeing here at Visa Go Australia; applications are being processed but at a slower rate. We have also seen more movement with onshore visa applications. Since COVID heightened in March/April we have still been receiving skilled visa grants.
Additional factors which may have slowed down progression of visas include:
- English testing centres closed – Many applicants must sit an English language test, for reasons such as gaining extra points toward their skilled application, or to simply meet the English language requirements. COVID created mass closures of testing centres, meaning English tests for immigration purposes have been temporarily suspended.
- Panel Physicians closures – For many Australian visas, applicants must undergo a medical examination. As a result of COVID-19 forcing healthcare facilities to close, applicants have been unable to complete their medical examinations during lockdown which has caused delays. Fortunately, we are now seeing this change – some of our clients have even had their appointments brought forward.
- Priority given to onshore applications – Whilst Australian borders remain closed, it is understandable that priority is given to applicants onshore. It makes little sense for Case Officers to grant offshore visas with short validity entry dates when applicants are unable to enter the country. However, offshore visa applications are still be processed.
- The Department of Home Affairs practising safe work environments – The Department must create safe working practices by setting employees up to work from home and implementing social distancing measures for essential office-based staff. Understandably, this can impact productivity and therefore how quickly visas can be processed.
If you are planning to start your Australian visa journey, then there is nothing to stop you from proceeding. Applications are open, and the sooner you join the queue, the closer you will be to having your visa. We also anticipate that once Australia’s borders open again, there will be a surge in demand for visas. COVID will cause implications in applying for your Australian visa, however with professional guidance and a lot of patience, we are confident that migration to Australia is still achievable.
Speak with a licensed Migration Agent here: https://visa-go.com/about-us/contact-us/
See if you qualify for an Australian visa here: https://visa-go.com/australia/