Global visa and citizenship processing times rolled out

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) have recently implemented global processing times for most visa, and Australian citizenship, applications. This can only be considered an improvement as it increases transparency and eliminates conflicting information from different departmental sources.

The specific webpage lists all subclasses except those subject to cap and queuing arrangements, which for some, times have run into the decades.

Processing times will be updated monthly. This change may have been due to many application centres moving to global processing arrangements. This is where any department that processes a certain type of application are allocated the next available application instead of confining allocations to within their jurisdiction. For example, an application for a Subclass 457: Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (457 visa) where the business is located in Melbourne may now be assessed by a case officer in Perth, instead of waiting for a case officer in Melbourne if that centre has high demand. This smooths discrepancies between processing centres.

The table has, unfortunately, revealed resource shortfalls and blow-outs. Popular applications, such as 457 visas, are taking up to 6 months, while partner visas are now a lengthy 20 months from lodgement to a decision in 90% of cases.

This does not, however, provide a definite timeframe for when your application will be decided. This is because there are many factors that can delay an application. The DIBP states a few:

  • whether you have lodged a complete application, including all necessary supporting documents,
  • how promptly you respond to any requests for additional information,
  • how long it takes to perform required checks on the supporting information provided,
  • how long it takes to receive additional information from external agencies, particularly in relation to health, character, and national security requirements,
  • for permanent migration visa applications, how many places are available in the migration programme, and
  • for citizenship applications, the time taken to attend a Citizenship Ceremony or receive a Citizenship Certificate.

Some of these are in the control of the visa applicant. Some, such as external character checks, and places available in the migration programme are not. Perhaps the most common factor is whether the case officer assessing the application believes all requirements have been met. With some criteria being relatively subjective, sometimes no amount of documentary evidence contemplated by the applicant will ensure a “complete” application. After all, case officers are humans too…for now.