In response to increasing demands from backpackers, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said that the government would be taking the initiative to welcome them soon. In an official statement, he announced that the government is currently working on strategic pipelines of working holiday-makers, and their visas are being processed faster.
Despite the news of the fast-tracking of visa applications, many offshore and onshore skilled migrants are not less than satisfied as they have been waiting for their permanent residency for at least two years.
For instance, Nakul Malik, a resident of Sydney, has been waiting for his visa for the past 22 months. Besides, he has a masters degree in project management from an Australian University, but he works as a security officer and drives for UberEats.
Mr Malik, 31, is not able to get a job that matches his educational qualification becomes most companies hire either citizens or working professionals with permanent residency visas. He pointed out that many qualified individuals like himself are forced to opt for odd jobs here and there due to visa restrictions.
Mr Malik is currently living with his wife and daughter on a bridging visa and does not enjoy travel rights like other visa holders. He also admits that it has been hard for him not being able to travel and meet his parents. However, he hopes that the government expedites the visa process and clears the backlog of applications waiting for approval. Furthermore, under Subclass 190(Skilled Nominated Visa), the New South Wales government had extended an invitation to Mr Malik in March 2020. But he has been waiting for the past two years for his visa grant to be accepted after applying to the Department for Home Affairs.
The Department website indicates that the current processing time for Subclass 190 visas is six months for 75 per cent of the applications, and for ninety per cent of applications is nine months. But when Mr Malik had applied, the time limit was five to six months, and it has been 22 months since their application, but there has been no proper response from the immigration office.
The Department of Home Affairs clarified that several applications finalised recently had been on-hand for some months when the borders were closed. These include applications that were not in sectors and occupations that are critical to Australia’s response to Covid-19 and the recovery of the Australian economy.
Consequently, with the borders reopening and more people becoming eligible for travel, many long-pending applications are finalised. Hence, it will take time for the processing and clearing of the older cases.
The Department’s website states that they have been directing resources to applications from travellers exempt from travel restrictions. The travellers include travellers who are immediate family members and parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents, and eligible visa holders (skilled, student, humanitarian, working holiday-maker and provisional family visa holders). Furthermore, it stated that the government is prioritising applicants based on Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL). Also, this applies to those individuals working in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery, where no Australian worker is available and students applying outside Australia so that their online study will count towards meeting the Australian Study Requirement. The second wave of Covid-19 impacted the skilled migration process and led to long delays for offshore applicants of visas.