Why Do Visa Processing Times Vary

Visa Processing Times Vary for Many Reasons.

Many people wonder why their visa application takes so long,  when others are finalised so quickly.

Questions include:

  • My application is almost 2 years so far,  I have seen others done in 6 months.
  • Why can’t visas be processed in order of application date?

An official statement on the Immigration Website says:

Australian visa processing times can vary due to a range of factors including but not limited to:

  • whether you have provided all necessary supporting documents when you lodge your application;
  • how accurately and how promptly you respond to any requests for additional information;
  • how long it takes to complete any required checks on information you have provided to support your application
  • how long it takes to receive additional information from external parties, particularly in relation to health, character and national security requirements.

It seems that the time it takes for external parties, ie: overseas governments, overseas security services etc.,  can be a reason for the delay in some visa applications.

Unfortunately many people blame the Australian Immigration service for delays, caused by their own government departments.

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Some blame the Australian Immigration service for delays caused by their own application errors. They say that immigration should spend more time helping them to get correct information, rather than giving priority to those who apply with a complete and correct application.

Immigration do recommend using a migration agent to avoid that problem.

Many people, including myself,  find that immigration department helplines often supply ‘not quite correct’ information.

We have to remember that many of the staff that answer calls may be relatively new,  unlike those who actually do the processing, and unfortunately some might give an easy answer,  possibly wrong,  rather than spend time finding the right answer.

I wonder if the average processing time for ‘MARA immigration agent’ lodged applications are faster than those of us who ‘Do It Ourselves’.

Visa Delays Since April 2020

In April 2020, visa processing times in Australia changed dramatically due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The main reason for this was the travel restrictions imposed at that time,  with much fewer people being permitted to enter Australia.

Many Partner visa applicants read that partner visa were being prioritised, and did not expect their applications to be affected.

However,  it was the onshore applications, the subclass 820 and 801, that appeared to be prioritised.  These applicants did not have to travel, and were therefore not at risk of bringing COVID into the country.

The number of grants for the subclass 300 and 309, dropped significantly once travel restrictions began.

  • Subclass 300 and 309: 4,361 grants in the 3 months before restrictions, but only 606 grants after restrictions began.

That left almost 4,000 extra applications being held in the queue in just 3 months.

Priority for entering the country ended up being given to Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents returning home.

Priority for offshore visa processing appears to have been given to those with long relationships, as seen by the increase in proportion of “direct to subclass 100” grants.

Secondary priority might have been decided by personal applications detailing specific reasons for reuniting a family,  that have only been split up because of COVID.

That might not include those who were apart, by choice, prior to COVID.

There could be many examples of those;  some could be considered valid,  others maybe not.

Consider these two examples:

  • Husband and wife for 10 years.  Husband working in Australia for last 5 years, wife not having left home country, but supported by husband’s Australian income.  He visits her once a year.  COVID hits,  and she decides to come to Australia after all.
  • Husband and wife for two years. Husband working in Australia for those 2 years, each of them visits the other a few times each year. Saving for partner visa, so they can be together. COVID hits and causes them to be unable to see each other regularly as before.

If you were an immigration officer,  which one would you prioritise.?



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The information we give is based on personal experiences, reading and formulation of available statistics.
Some Visa Applicants might find an Experienced Australian Migration Agent of great assistance. - ai16

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