The department has recently added more information to the website for people who have made a skilled migration application.
This new information lets applicants know where we are up to in processing applications. It provides the date of lodgement for applications that are currently being allocated to case officers. Our skilled migration processing centre plans to update this information every fortnight. We hope that visa applicants will find this a useful resource. It also links to information about the different processing priority categories for skilled migration.
Our processing centres are required to process skilled migration applications in the order set by a Ministerial Direction on processing priority. For some people, this means their applications are allocated within a few weeks of applying. For others, this means a longer wait. The reality is that over the last few years with more people applying to migrate to Australia than there are places in the program, longer waiting times are inevitable.
We know that some applicants are disappointed that the department is unable to process their applications more quickly. But it is important to remember the skilled migration program is focussed on Australia’s skills needs. This is why the direction requires that we must first process those applications with the skills and attributes most in need, and not simply process in the order that applications are received.
The positive news is that the reforms to skilled migration mean that we now have a better match between the skills of new visa applicants and those needed by the Australian labour market. The reforms have also resulted in a flow of new applications which will enable us to reduce the visa application pipeline which has built up over the past few years. So, given the number of skilled migration places currently available, we expect to see an improvement in processing times and also some movement in the category 5 caseload in 2011-12.