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Australian government moves to fix student visa delays

Extraordinary visa delays for international students have put the brakes on Australia’s international education recovery, just four months after borders fully re-opened.

Visa delays are "currently the single biggest barrier to the recovery of the international education sector", stakeholders suggest. Photo: iStock

The country’s National Cabinet recently agreed to affirm its shared commitment to urgently addressing skills shortages

The International Education Association of Australia noted that the “discovery of significant delays to student visa processing times has come at the worst possible time for Australia’s beleaguered international education sector”.

A backlog in visa processing extends to regional skilled worker visas, topping 16,400, as reported by AFR.

Australia’s newly elected government has sprung into action, as the country is losing precious time in getting not only the international students, but also the much needed skilled workers onshore within reasonable timeframes.

“My focus is on making sure that we clear this backlog as quickly and as efficiently as possible, in the national interest,” Andrew Giles, Australia’s new Immigration minister told the national broadcaster, ABC Radio.

In addition to reducing the backlog there was a need to “deliver a visa system that’s fit for purpose”, he added.

Budgetary cuts of around $875 million to the department of Home Affairs in the last budget cycle have considerably impacted the visa processing times.

“What [these budgetary cuts] did is to place an even bigger burden on the hardworking women and men of the department,” Giles said.

“We are working our way through the scale of the backlog, as well as looking at resource allocations and policy options needed to get things moving. As the prime minister made clear, this has to be an absolute priority for Australia.”

PM Albanese has previously said that short-term migration will need to be a part of the solution for skill shortages. “We need to work on clearing the backlog there from people who have visas that have been granted,” he told reporters on June 17.

“A host of problems have now beset our nation’s ability to turn around visas in a timely manner”

“This is my number one priority [as well], to get on top of the backlog, but also to ensure that it doesn’t happen again and that we move away from the lazy approach to immigration policy of the last nine years and really tie it to a clear vision of our economic future and the sort of country we want to continue to be, the world’s most successful multicultural society,” Giles emphasised.

“Just when we thought we had turned the corner from the previous ‘Fortress Australia’ syndrome, we have been told by our Home Affairs department that a host of problems have now beset our nation’s ability to turn around visas in a timely manner,” Phil Honeywood, CEO of IEAA told The PIE News.

“Some of these include a lack of trained staff available at our embassies to cope with the workload, Covid-related lockdowns that require visas to be processed in other countries, and an upsurge in fraudulent documents from certain student source countries.”

However, Honeywood added that the quarterly meeting of Home Affairs department’s Education Visa Consultative Committee last week offered clarification on the processing delay issues.

“While admitting that visa processing was currently slower than pre-Covid levels, the department emphasised that they have now been provided with significant additional funding by the new federal government to ‘clear the visa backlog’,” he explained.

“This includes hiring large numbers of new staff at our embassies as well as offering overtime to existing staff who agree to work longer hours.

“Assurances were also provided that any changes to the current ‘uncapped work hours for full time students’ would involve consultation with stakeholders and be a phased process rather than any sudden return to students’ previously limited pre-Covid work entitlements.”

Executive director for International at the University of Melbourne Carmel Murphy said that current visa processing times vary by country and applicant type.

“This is peak semester two processing time and some countries which are typically fast are now averaging four-six weeks for a student visa,” Murphy noted.

“International students are a vital part of the Curtin University family and with borders now open, we encourage the new federal government to ensure that those who wish to study here in Australia are enabled to do so and that universities are supported in making a sustainable post-pandemic recovery,” Seth Kunin, Curtin University deputy vice-chancellor, Global, added.

Giles stressed that the government must ensure the short-term measures it is taking is “consistent with the vision for rebuilding the economy, rebuilding and re-skilling Australian jobs, and boosting our productivity into the future”.

The country’s National Cabinet recently agreed to affirm its shared commitment to urgently addressing skills shortages.

“As part of the Commonwealth’s commitment, [the Cabinet] will urgently work to address a backlog in processing visa applications in areas of skills shortages, reduce visa processing times and prioritise training and migration,” the statement from the latest meeting read.

“ITECA had advised the minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs that urgent action was required to address lengthening times to process international student visas,” said Troy Williams, chief executive of The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia.

“It’s great that this advocacy has translated into action.

“ITECA has advised the Australian government that delays to international student visa processing are currently the single biggest barrier to the recovery of the international education sector and to welcoming students back to Australia,” Williams said.

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31 Responses to Australian government moves to fix student visa delays

  1. I hope PhD student visa applications (visa subclass 500 Research Sector) are also processed fast. Many people waiting long time.

  2. Hopefully, the department for Thailand student visa should consider following the submitted date , and please concern about why someone lodged application later can get the results quickly. Please kindly fix system as immediately if it effects for getting the files to consider applications.

    Best regards

  3. Please help genuine entry student. And rejecting application due to agent’s fault submission. I think every student has their rights to voice out and second chance is strongly encouraged.

  4. I hope being working in critical sector as an RN could be given priority, have applied for 887 since June 2021, still waiting despite working as critical health worker, I expect someone will also listen to us. Contacted immi department so many times, but no reply. Hopes on Labor.

  5. Why is the ‘first come first serve’ policy is not followed in issue of sub class 500 visas?
    Is this not injustice to genuine applicants?
    Helpless, anguished, depressed, hopeless and what not …..why highly respectable organisations functions at the cost of career of students??

  6. I am very experienced in training Food and Beverage and housekeeping. Offered my services to many employment agency to get jobseekers to work and placed them for work but no one replied to my emails. We have enough people to put them to work.

  7. Its nearly two months that I have lodged my student visa for bachelors. Although the semester sstarted I didnt receive my visa. Not only me, many students have faced this serious problem. Hoping a positive answer for the issue immediately.

  8. Even people who are going to visit love ones are made to wait a frustrating long time for their visa. People might get a wrong impression of Australia

  9. Many students are still waiting for their visas ( student visa subclass 500) even though their classes will begin soon within a week. So it’s a humble request to australian high commission to fix the process immediately as it will effect the higher sector studies.

  10. This backlog is truly insane. It extends across all kinds of Visas too. We were told a visitor Visa could take 20 months to be approved. 2 years for a two week trip?! Something is screwy here. Fix it Australia or we’ll all just go elsewhere. Oh and it’s a racist policy too – the amount of info required by some countries vs others is yucky.

  11. Hi I got my student visa in commerical cookery before covid everything was running good and classes was going good and when covid started it got delays in everything like long wait for visa college makes us to stay in the same college for not passing and retain international students in this way I have faced may problems in my personal life to getting depressed and moreover in this situation immigration is making late due to which we can’t go to our country for some issue or to see to parents in a trip so I request the immigration and Australia new elect government to change the things thank you.

  12. Why Pakistani student’s are suffering a lot in this case. I saw many Indian student who have applied in June 2022 got their visa within same month, while Pakistani student’s are waiting for about 6 to 9 months.

  13. Classes are starting with in a week but student visa didn’t come for my brother, it’s almost 4 months already gone please clear as fast as possible for many students like my brothers and sisters

  14. Visa delays are a huge issue, but the insane subjectivity of the ‘Genuine Temporary Entrant’ test has crossed the line to farce. Having seen numerous refusal notices, and having referenced them back to the initial SOPs, it’s absolutely impossible not to reach the conclusions that refusals are at very best highly decided on the whim of the visa officers and at worst are just completely random in nature. Time and time again we see ‘cut and paste’ responses listing the wrong student name, or the wrong school name, or referencing statements that were simply not made by the intending student. We have had a case where twin sisters with near identical circumstances had one visa refused and another accepted, and we’ve seen a Japanese student with almost a million Australian dollars in savings and a secure, six-figure income told that she could not come to study in Byron Bay as it was apparent she was intending to exploit the ‘comparatively better economic circumstances’ that she would enjoy there. The system is absolutely and without question broken.

  15. The GTE system is a set back for many applicants. It is used as a denial stick to many applicants , especially those from third countries.
    Even when everything is in place , one gets the visa officer’s generic reply of “I am not convinced that you have intentions of returning to your country after your studies”
    Which applicant can challenge that type of conviction from tye visa officer?
    One is left with no option but to give up on Australia as a viable education destination.

  16. My only goal for the last six years has been to move to Australia and build a life. The process has been so slow despite me working in a field identified as critical by Australia. I was offered a 491 visa to work in South Australia but it feels like I’ve just sent money and time into a black hole.

  17. I am an agent recruiting students for Australian Colleges and Universities from Pakistan. Our visa applications have been in process since Jan & Feb 2022 without any outcome. This is so disappointing for us all.

  18. I have loss my flight booking money because of the delay for my son’s student visa. The authority should see class starting date and provide at least visa on arrival since unable to clear backlog.

  19. Im from southamerica, I applied for visa 500 last 21 of February, still no response. I contact DHA they said, I have to wait. Ive postponed my engineering studies for 6 months to go to Australia to improve my english. My 6 months off are about to finish and still waiting. Very disappointed

  20. I have already defered my Master course six months back due to Visa delay and reapplied on May for July intake. I did so inorder to not affect my Post Study Work Visa eligibility in the future. But now, my classes are starting from next monday. I have not received my Visa yet. Atleast you should make some ammendments in the post study work visa requirement of staying in the country for 92 weeks. This is depressing.Please, I know there are thousands of students out there going through the same. We all should do something as we have been forced get into online classes due to departments processing delay in our visa.

  21. I Lodged visa on 24 Dec 2021, Biometric 5 Jan 2022, S56 Request on 6 Jan 2022, Medical 7 Jan 2022, Please let me know about expected date of grant? Visa Category Higher Education Research Sector (PhD). Pakistan, Waiting since 8 months.

  22. I have lodged my visa on 28 JAN 2022 for 482 short term role: software tester. Its all most 6 months I am waiting for visa… Still waiting for visa grant, why government is not granting visa for shortage skill workers from long time. when we can expect grants for skill shortage visas?

  23. Lodged on 8 June 2022
    Medical and Biometric on 13th june
    Now more than 6 weeks
    University commeced on 4th of July 22
    On line is not available.
    However uni agreed to offer it until 15th Aug 22
    Still appear as Further Assessment
    This delay affects very badly for my future plan

  24. Visa process in Pakistan is taking much longer. Most of the Students are waiting for more than 6 months these days. I hope they speed up the process specially for Pakistan. Looking forward

  25. My course already started on 18th of July, still waiting for my visa, this is so stressful because my college not providing online options to study until I getting a visa, and the other program is that my next intake is on next year July if I unable to start this intake. This is really hard for me because this is really wasting my study time and everything in my life getting delay. Please be quick of processing because this is every applicants time, money and life

  26. My student visa file has been submitted in Australia Embassy since 5th May, 2022. My intake was on 25th July, 2022. But i have not received my visa yet. Please help. I am attending online classes. The census date is on 31st August. If my visa gets rejected after that then i will have to bear huge financial loss. So please give me revert as early as possible.

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