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Migration Program planning levels and priority processing arrangements

Every year the Australian Government sets the number of places, otherwise known as planning levels, in the permanent migration program. The number of places allocated takes into account the current economic climate and feedback from consultations with the Australian community.

Within the skill stream of the permanent migration program, there are a number of different visa categories targeted to meet the diverse needs of Australia’s labour market.  The government also allocates annually a set number of visa places to each of the following categories:

  • skilled independent
  • skilled Australian sponsored
  • employer sponsored, and
  • state and territory sponsored

The planning levels can be varied by the government in response to economic and other factors. Delivering the migration program requires careful management. This is where it’s important to understand the relationship between the planning levels and priority processing arrangements  for skilled migration visa applications.

Priority processing is a tool, available to government, to assist managing the order in which applications are granted. We have blogged previously about the government’s priority processing direction, where visa applications are placed in one of five priority processing groups.

Applications in priority group 1 are allocated before applications in priority group 2, and so on, until the set planning level for each specific skilled visa category is met.

In the situation where set annual planning levels are met in a particular skilled migration category within a 12 month period, the department is obliged to temporarily suspend allocating applications in this category until the next program year, irrespective of where applicants are placed in the priority processing direction.

For example, in this (2011-2012) program year there has been a lower number of applications lodged under a state migration plan (priority group 3) than anticipated when government originally set the planning levels. To meet the set levels for this part of the program we have allocated some of the priority group 5 applications in greater numbers.

These are the priority group 5 applications that were lodged by onshore and offshore applicants who were nominated by a state or territory government before state migration plans were introduced. These applications are placed in priority group 5 as they do not have a nominated occupation on the skilled occupation list.

It may also be necessary to limit the allocation of visa applications in the skilled Australian sponsored categories this program year, because there are only a few places remaining in this visa category. We will continue to update the allocation dates for skilled visa applications on the department’s website and encourage applicants to regularly check the page, which is updated fortnightly. We have also updated information on our website about the processing of priority group 5 applications.

If you have any questions or comments please post below.

Comments (119)

Comment: 

Hi,
Is there any priority processing for 485 visa applicants as some people require this visa so that they can apply for another visa before 1st july 2012.

Comment: 

Yahya

Thanks for your question – subclass 485 visas are not subject to priority processing and they are allocated to case officers in order of receipt. You might be interested to know that we are currently processing these visas within our published service level of 12 months.

In relation to the 1 July 2012 introduction of SkillSelect, there will be a period of overlap where people in Australia can continue to apply for the existing points-tested skilled migration visas. The 885, 886 and 487 visas will stay open for applications for six months until the end of 2012. People already in Australia who want to apply for a skilled migration visa during this period, including those eligible for transitional arrangements, can apply for a 885, 886 or 487 visa and/ or submit an EOI for one of the new visas in this period if they wish.

Comment: 

I checked the table updated today. I only saw 885 been processed till 27 Jan 2009. Does that mean they will continue to allocate 885 , priority 5 application and have put hold on other application subclasses like 487 and 886 till 31 May 2012.

Please clear it? as i m May 2009, 885 ? Any chances of my application been allocated ?

Comment: 

Mohit

The allocation of subclass 885 applications will continue throughout the program year. We can’t confirm when your application will be allocated because it depends on how many applications are received in higher priority groups. The best place to keep up to date as to when your application will be allocated is our website.

There is limit in the allocation of Skilled Australian Sponsored cases because of the low number of available visa places remaining in this program year.

Comment: 

Hi

What I would like to know is whether 496 designated area sponsored application comes under skilled Australian sponsored. What are they chances of 496 category 5 being processed in this financial year. If they are not going to process this year will they process next year.

Comment: 

Rahul

The allocation of Skilled- Designated Area Sponsored – subclass 496 applications has ceased for the remainder of this program year. This is because of the limited number of visa places available for this visa category. While it is likely that processing will recommence in the next program year, the number of visas processed in this category will depend on the size and composition of the migration program, as well as the number of applications received in higher priority groups.

Comment: 

Hi Karin ,

I am a little confused. This recent fortnightly update relates to a major change in processing of GSM Subclass 886. Does this mean the processing for Suclass 886 will be further delayed? I lodged my application in 3 march 2009. If there has been a limit applied, does that mean they will suspend processing or will they still process? Can you please shed some light on the number of applications which will still be processed in program 2011-2012 for Subclass 886??

Thanks
Chitra

Comment: 

Hi Chitra

Within the skilled migration program there are a number of different visa categories, and each of these have a set number of places allocated by the government.

In the situation where set annual planning levels are met in a particular skilled migration category, the department is obliged to temporarily suspend allocating applications in this category until the next program year. This has happened in the Skilled Australian Sponsored category, where we have nearly reached the limited number of places available within the migration program planning levels. This means we will need to stop allocating these visas for the remainder of the program year.

I appreciate this is disappointing news for you and other applicants affected by this update, but ultimately the skilled migration program is designed to meet the needs of the Australian economy. While we can’t give you a specific timeframe as when your application will be allocated, we will continue to provide you and other applicants as much information as possible via the allocation page on our website.

Comment: 

silly question, but do you have any idea of the anticipated planning levels for skilled Australian sponsored intake for 2012/13 program year? May we hope it increases, or at least stay the same? Thank you for your time. Marianne

Comment: 

Hi Marianne – not a silly question at all. Migration Program planning levels are usually announced as part of Australia's annual Federal Budget announcement. The Federal Budget is set to be delivered on Tuesday 8 May 2012.

Comment: 

Sir/Madam,
With due respect,
I am waiting for Designated area sponsored – skilled (496) visa class since Aug 2007. I was looking at today’s update. And could not understand what is there for us? Designated – Area Sponsored – Skilled(496) applicants. Well, is there any qouta for us during this financial year.
With best Regards,
Jaspreet Singh Bajwa

Comment: 

Hi Jaspreet

The Australian Government sets planning levels for the migration program, including a set number of places within specific categories. The allocation of Designated Area Sponsored Skilled(496) applications have ceased because there is a limited amount of visa places in this category. Have a look at some of the other comments and responses I’ve posted today for some more information.

Comment: 

Thanks for info.

Are you in a position to give number of applicants with state sponsorship in PG-5 (offshore)?

And

How many applicants processed to reach 24k in 2011-2012?

Thanks

Comment: 

Thanks for your question. As at 20 April 2012 there were approximately 900 unfinalised Priority Group 5 state and territory sponsored cases lodged outside of Australia. There are approximately 2100 applicants in these cases.

As you know, there are 24,000 state and territory sponsored places in the 2011-12 migration program. At the end of March we had processed over 18 000 applications.

Comment: 

I don't know why DIAC love to tease applicants by changing the goal post time to time. Now DIAC's bad state sponsership number planning will be a boon to some but a curse to relative sponsered applicants who are already here, some are well settled, they and their relatives are paying hefty taxes in-spite of living in limbo. Govt need to understand the problems of onshore applicants. In Nov-11 DIAC's statement was different from today's statement. Please don't make someone's life a number game. Life is real, some onshore applicants are away from their kids some have lost their parents in their country of origin while waiting for visa in AU. I think DIAC should not give bad taste to relative sponsored applicants because it could lead to mental trauma to their australian brothers and sisters who have sponsored them. It is also not in favor of current govt either. Suppose I have sponsored my brother :
1.Will I vote to current govt for my whole life as my brother and his family's future stayed in prolonged limbo?
2.Will my own life be stress free and hundred percent productive in AUif my sponsored  brother's future is on stake.  
3. Why govt don't like to see family reunion?
  I know the importance of planning but it should be flexible up to some extent.

Comment: 

Raj

Thank you for taking the time to comment on this blog. We are certainly aware that any changes to the allocation and processing of visas affect our applicants, which is why we are providing as much information as possible via our website and in forums like this blog and facebook.

It does need to be clear, and this has been stressed a number of times on this blog, that the skilled migration program is run to benefit Australia. It is a highly targeted program, with different categories within the program to meet the diverse labour market needs of the Australian economy. While individuals are affected by changes to the program, ultimately the program is designed to meet labour market needs. The program requires careful management, and needs to be responsive to meet the government’s migration planning levels.

Comment: 

hello karin.
reffering to all information given by diac till now, there is no clear information of what going to happens for applicants in category5 (familly sponsored)
will those application will be process after july 2012, or will family sponsored applcation will be continued to be pushed at the bottom of the line?
as there no clear information about this category of apllicants... should we stay in the same limbo as we were for 4 years now? or sholud we "consider other options"?????
daniel

Comment: 

Hi Daniel

You may not have seen my response to a similar comment made on this blog post.

Where set annual planning levels are met in a particular skilled migration category, the department is obliged to temporarily suspend allocating applications in this category until the next program year. This has happened in the Skilled Australian Sponsored category, where we have nearly reached the limited number of places available within the migration program planning levels. This means we will need to stop allocating these visas for the remainder of the program year.

The skilled migration program is run to benefit Australia. Skilled migration is therefore a selective process to meet the needs of the Australian economy. While we can’t give you a specific timeframe as when your application will be allocated, we will continue to provide you and other applicants as much information as possible via the allocation page on our website.

Comment: 

Relative sponsoreds:
. Most of them are here for over four years and got their relatives to support them.
. Majority of them are well settled in AU, but can't plan their future due to lack of PR.
. Why DIAC is not considering that they got edge over new arrivals while setting priorities groups.
. Living in limbo is an ongoing frustration for applicants, and for their kids if any and especially for their relatives who have sponsored them.

Suppose I have sponsored my brother and his application is being pushed further and further by DIAC just to show that their planned numbers are absolutely correct:
a) Will my life be stress free while my brother's future is in limbo in AU?
b) Will I be hundred percent productive while my brother and his family's future is in limbo?
c) Will I be happy if we have to pay $20k international student fees for my brother's two kids?
d) Will I be happy if my brother is being penalized because I was his sponsor?
e) Will I be happy in AU if my nephew and niece's study is being impacted by this number game?
I want to request that please revisit relative sponsored places for coming FY, too. It does not look enough places and this can cause more agony to relative sponsored applicants and their relatives who have sponsored them.

Comment: 

Raj
I won’t address all of your points, as I posted a response to one of your earlier comments, though I would like to explain how the migration program planning levels are set. The Australian Government sets the number of places, otherwise known as planning levels, in the permanent migration program. Next years program levels will be based on the current economic climate and feedback from consultations with the Australian community.

Comment: 

I am so happy to see that offshore Priority Group 5 is processing. I applied in October 2008 under Skilled – Regional Sponsored (Provisional) subclass 475 online - family sponsored. When will they start family sponsored 475 subclass? Since case officers will be allocated for others before May, will it start in June?

When this is granted, can I live in Melbourne? Because I am on student visa at the moment, in Melbourne. My relative who sponsored me also live here.

thanks

Comment: 

Hi Eua,

Thanks for commenting on this blog.

Allocation of Skilled Independent and Skilled Australian Sponsored Priority Group 5 cases lodged outside of Australia has not yet commenced.

While specific timeframes as to when your application will be allocated can not be given, we will continue to provide you and other applicants as much information as possible via the allocation page on our website.

If you are being sponsored by an eligible relative, both you and your sponsor must usually be a resident in a designated area of Australia at the time of the sponsorship. All of Victoria is considered as a designated area for this visa. Here is a link to the areas http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/designated-area...

Comment: 

Hi,

I find the transition arrangements a little bit confusing. I started studying in Australia before 8 February 2010. Somewhere after July I want to apply for a skilled independent visa. I was checking the Changes to Points Tested Skilled Migration Visas document and there it says that the 885 visa will be replaced with the 189 visa by the end of this year. Does that mean that after July I can still apply for the 885 visa under the old procedure or would I have to apply for the 189 visa using the new procedure with the SkillSelect requirement?

Thanks

Michael

Comment: 

Hi Michael

The 885 visa will be replaced with the 189 visa with the introduction of SkillSelect. While the new visas (189, 190 and 489) will be introduced from 1 July 2012, there will be a period of overlap where people in Australia can continue to apply for the existing points-tested skilled migration visas. This means you can still apply for the 885 visa under the existing framework until 1 January 2013.

Comment: 

If possible, please let us know how many onshore and offshore relative sponsored applications are outstanding at present.

It looks strange that relative sponsored yearly quota is only 4k when significant numbers of Australians are born out of AU.

It is also strange that one visa class but two different yearly quota: relative sponsoreds and state sponsereds.

Will DIAC restart allocations in the last quarter of F13 if there will be any leftover places after using for prior categories, or relative sponsoreds allocations will start from day one of F13?

I hope you well understand the pain and frustration behind this prolonged wait.
Thanks and kind regards!

Comment: 

Hi Karin, thanks for your post
I noticed that there is a significant drop at new applications rate because of the new points test, if this situation stil lasts after this July, what would diac deal with larges number of remaiming places of Migration Program 2012–2013? Will diac lower the minimum pass mark to new applicants or give these places to large numbers of G5 applicants which most are cooks and bakers? If DIAC would give these substantial places to G5 rather than lower the pass mark, how can it deliver the skills Australia needs by matching the best and brightest prospective migrants to the available places in the migration program?

Comment: 

Hi Dong

Thanks for your questions. These are questions that have to be balanced in delivering a migration program. You have referred to pass marks which are determined by the Minister. This is one of a range of tools available to Government to manage the program size and composition. When decisions are made to use these tools, we publish information about them on our website.

Comment: 

Hey, I am one of the people who were affected by the recent allocation of group 5 cases as we (my wife and I) have lodged an offshore 475 ( SA sponsored) visa back in 2009 but since then our circumstances have changed. We entered Australia on a student visa as I was studying for my master degree. I graduated and then lodged an onshore independant skilled application (885) with my occupation now not on the new sol which placed me in priority no.5. We have been living in Melbourne since then on a bridging visa and both of us have jobs in our nominated occupations. We were contacted by a co recently for the 475 visa which is great but puts us in some sort of hardship as if granted the visa we would need to quit our jobs which we are doing really well at, terminate our rental agreement early incurring financial losses and travel overseas to await the decision of the visa, and, since my wife is 35 weeks pregnant also make the move with a baby with no income.Is there any possibility of requesting my 885 visa be processed sooner taking into consideration our circumstances?

Comment: 

Dear Khalil

Thanks for your question. We are unable to comment on specific cases on this blog, and as always, if you have concerns regarding your 475 case, you should contact your case officer.

Case officers are not able to respond to requests to process individual cases outside of the order set out in the Minister’s processing priority arrangements.

Please continue to check the allocation dates for your 885 on our website.

Comment: 

Hi,
I checked the table every 2 weeks and Skilled – Sponsored (Residence) subclass 886 online- not been updated since 2 weeks ago. ( 22 Dec 2008 )
I applied 886 online on 21Jan 2010, because of the low number of available visa places remaining, is this mean I would not get a case officer this yeear?
thanks

Comment: 

The allocation of Skilled Australian Sponsored cases lodged in and outside Australia has been limited due to there being a low number of available visa places remaining this program year.

Check out some of the other responses I’ve posted recently for more information and keep an eye on the allocation page on our website.

Comment: 

I want to ask a generalized question that how much time DIAC takes after medicals and PCC for grant of visa for skill independent subclass 175 visa for Pakistani applicants. Please provide me some information as I have been waiting for 6 months after submitting my medicals and PCC. Thanks

Comment: 

Hi Shahid,

Every case is different. The department may still need to undertake other checking in respect of a case that may delay a decision. Case officers will make a decision when all information is at hand and according to how many places are left in specific visa categories.

Comment: 

I am confused with this "number of places within specific categories" under 886 visa. so if I apply for 886 under state sponsorship later this year and my occupation is on SOL 1 (which means priority group 3), does this mean my application wont be allocated to a case officer this year? but it says case officer will be allocated within 4 weeks of lodgement on your website. would this mean its better to apply for an 885 priority 4 instead? could you please clarify me
thanks

Comment: 

Hi Karin, first of all thanks for helping us out here providing this precious information,
I applied July 2009 886 family sponsored and now according to this blog n the diac website they r putting hold on this particular subclass.
Can u help me by proving some info such as
• are they going to process my application in the new financial year 2012-13.
• how many 886 family sponsored gsm are waiting since 22 dec 2009?
Much appreciate for your help and support

Comment: 

I think there is typo in your last question, is in it should be 22 Dec 2008 instead of 2009.

Comment: 

Thanks Leo

We can’t confirm when individual cases will be allocated because this depends on when you applied and how many applications are received in higher priority groups. The allocation page will continue to be updated, and if you’ve been looking at the page regularly you would have seen that the reforms to skilled migration have gone some way in addressing the issue of the long wait times for those of you in Priority Group 5.

In relation to your other question about the number of 886 Family Sponsored applications are waiting to be allocated - we are not in the position to run this data based on particular points in time, but you should have a look at the update provided on our website which has useful information: http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/gsm-priority5-p...

Comment: 

Hi Karin,

A short question for you,

When does the program year 2012-2013 start and when does 2011-2012 program year end?

Thanks
Chitra

Comment: 

Hi Chitra, I just like any blog reader and not from the department. But i m pretty sure that it is from july'12 to july'13...and same evry year as it is called financial year...

Comment: 

Thanks mac !

Comment: 

Ok thanks !

Comment: 

Thanks Mac - you are correct. The new program year will start from 1 July 2012 and runs until 30 June 2013.

Comment: 

Karin can you also shed some light upon the number of Independent Skilled ( 885 & 175 )sub class applications processed so far.

Thanks

Comment: 

Hi Sam

As at the end of March 2012, approximately 11,710 Subclass 885 and 15,680 Subclass 175 Skilled Independent visa’s had been granted in the 2011-2012 migration program.

Comment: 

Dear Karin,

I am 885 cat 5 sept 2009 applicant and unfortunatly married at this stage of waiting.The multi- million dollar question is any idea ,when i will get processed.For god sake please dont give me general answer .
I would really appreciate your kind response in this regard.Because there are lots of changes going on and my mind is going into the negative thinking (like Cap And Cease Of priority 5 885 applicant)

PLEASE HELP

Comment: 

Hsingh

We are not in the position to give you specific information about your application – the timing of processing depends on how many future applications we receive at a higher priority level. I appreciate this is frustrating, but please understand that our efforts to communicate with you via this blog and the department’s website are so we can provide you with as much information as possible. The allocation table has been published on our website specifically so that applicants can see the progress we have been making in allocating the priority 5 applications.

Comment: 

I am 176 (Family Sponsored) applicant. I applied my visa on 31 January 2011. I was allocated CO on 21 Sep 2011 and my security checked initiated in the same month according to my case officer.

My question is would my visa decision be effected???? or i can get grant in this year?

Comment: 

Thanks for your question. Cases will be decided based on the numbers of available places in particular visa categories.

If the set annual planning levels are met in a particular skilled migration category the department is obliged to suspend granting these visa categories until there are available places in the following program year.

Comment: 

Hi Karin,
I received my VIC SS only recently. It is valid for four months. The communication from VIC states that the sponsorship will be honoured even if there are any DIAC changes. My query is - suppose the SOL 2012 removes my occupation, can I still use my state sponsorship to apply under 190?

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