Late last year the Department of Immigration announced a series of new efficiency-based initiatives designed to streamline the visa application process, ahead of its upcoming six-month update to the Skilled Occupation List (SOL).
The initiatives are intended to help streamline the process of applying for temporary skilled work visas, and ensure shorter processing times for applicants.
As part of the new measures, “auto-approval” will be implemented for completed streamlined lower-risk nomination applications lodged by accredited sponsors, which should help to clear the significant processing backlog currently burying the Department.
New online forms will be introduced for the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa, and for sponsors—or agents acting on their behalf—to advise the Department on changes in circumstance that may affect their ability to comply with mandatory sponsorship requirements.
A new streamlined “renewal process” will also be rolled out for existing sponsors, which will feature a significantly shorter application form, as well as the possibility for auto-approval.
Additional changes will include:
- A complete review of existing 457 visa correspondence to ensure that the correspondence templates for the TSS visa are easier to understand and use;
- the development of new Procedural Instructions (PI) which will:
- apply to both the TSS (subclass 186) and PESE (subclass 187) application processing procedure in the context of SOL’s;
- provide additional guidance on regulations 1.13A ‘adverse information’ and 1.13B ‘associated with’;
- a newly revised approach to dealing with incomplete applications as a means of reducing overall processing times for those with completed applications.
The revised approach for managing incomplete applications will be based on refusing them because they failed to meet the necessary legislative requirement—by providing supporting evidence—during the initial assessment stage.
This will be implemented when there are no applicable natural justice obligations, and more than two calendar days have passed since the application was lodged.
However, it will not apply to certain cases including:
- Cases where health and character documentation is still pending;
- when a related application must be finalised first (e.g. if there is a nomination application with a pending sponsorship application);
- if a reasonable explanation is attached to the application in Immiaccount which outlines the reason for its incompleteness, providing the applicant does not have a history of lodging incomplete applications.
The CEO of Absolute Immigration, Jamie Lingham, was supportive of the new initiatives, calling the current processing times unacceptable.
“Absolute Immigration welcomes the initiatives put forward by the Department and hope that this will lead to faster processing times, which are currently at unacceptable levels when compared to the excessive fees paid for visa applications,” Lingham said.
“We warn clients that while there seems to be some significant benefits to the auto-approval process, we do worry that this technology may lead to faster refusals, and a lack of recourse for clarifications in relation to applications.”
“It is for this reason that we advise all of our clients to discuss their immigration strategy with one of our experienced Registered Migration Agents,” he said.
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