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How Long Will it Take to Get My Visa? Understanding Australia’s Visa Processing Delays

*Disclaimer: The contents of this article do not constitute legal migration advice, are not intended to be a substitute for legal migration advice, and should not be relied upon as such. For professional migration assistance, always consult a Registered Migration Agent registered with the Office of Migration Agents Registered Authority (MARA) or contact the Department of Home Affairs

Whether you’ve recently applied for a skilled migration visa or you’re planning to soon, you’ve likely heard about the significant backlogs in visa processing. According to ABC News, the Australian Government is currently experiencing major delays; it’s estimated that it could take over six months to resolve the backlog of roughly a million unprocessed visas. With this in mind, you may be wondering: how long will it take for my visa application to be processed in Australia?

In this article, we walk you through Australia’s visa processing delays, what’s causing them and how to potentially avoid them.

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Understanding Australia’s visa processing delays

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia’s borders were closed for nearly two years. This meant that skilled migration visa applications were essentially halted during that period. However, when Australia reopened its borders completely in February 2022, this reopened the door for visa applications. Now, the Australian Government is seeing a massive influx of visa applications and they are struggling to keep up with the demand. 

The Department of Home Affairs last updated its global processing times web page on 19 July 2022. On the web page, the Department notes that this list is updated monthly, taking these delays into account. 

Skilled migrants feeling the pressure

Amid these delays, many skilled migrant workers are feeling immense pressure and stress – so much so that several have taken to the streets to protest. On 14 August 2022, skilled migrant protestors stationed themselves on the steps of Adelaide’s Parliament House, pleading with the Government to fast-track their permanent residency (PR) visa applications. In a tweet, 7News Adelaide stated that the “backlog [of visa applications] is so heavy, applications submitted prior to September 2020 are currently being assessed.” 

What is causing the visa delays in Australia? 

While the influx of visa applications is one of the primary causes behind the backlog, the Department of Home Affairs has also shared that there are other contributing factors. These include:

  • Lodgements of incomplete applications. 
  • How promptly applicants respond to requests for additional information
  • How long it takes the Department to perform checks on the information supplied
  • How long it takes to acquire information from outside agencies (such as information on character, health, etc.)
  • How many places are available in the migration program (for PR applications)

How to avoid visa processing delays

It’s important to remember that there is no guaranteed way to avoid visa processing delays. However, you can improve your chances of having your visa processed promptly by ensuring you submit a complete application with all the required documentation. The Department of Education, Skills and Employment also highlighted that the sector needs to help in this initiative, particularly providers and agents. 

Additionally, if the Department requests any extra information or documentation from you, aim to reply to these requests as soon as possible. 

My application is taking too long – what can I do?

If you are worried about the status of your application, you can get in touch with the Commonwealth Ombudsman or consult its visa delay fact sheet. However, the Ombudsman will not usually investigate individual complaints about processing times. If you can demonstrate compelling or compassionate circumstances, you can try to request that your application be prioritised by:

  • Calling the Department of Home Affairs Service Centre on 131 881, or
  • Contacting the relevant processing office(s)