Waiting to Be Seen: Problems of Australia's Visa Processing Delays - Migrant Workers Centre Skip navigation

A new report by the Migrant Workers Centre, Waiting to Be Seen: Problems of Australia’s Visa Processing Delays shows Australia’s migration system has denied tens of thousands of people the stability and certainty to build their lives. 

Unacceptably high numbers of onshore visa applicants are waiting as long as three years for the outcome of their applications. The Department of Home Affairs prioritises offshore, temporary applicants to meet the short term needs of businesses. 

This report lays bare the unjustifiable discrepancies between the Department’s treatment of permanent and temporary visa applicants. 

Key findings in Waiting to Be Seen: 

  • A sixfold increase in the number of people stuck on Bridging Visas. 
  • A dramatic increase in wait times for visas. The processing time for the subclass 887 visa has more than doubled and is currently at 24 months. 
  • The de-prioritisation of permanent visas at the expensive of temporary visas and employer sponsored visas. A Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) applicant can expect to wait for 39 months to become a permanent resident while one applying for an Employer sponsored visa (subclass 186) will receive the visa in 12 months. The Working Holiday and Student Visas, which are amongst the most restrictive temporary visas, are processed the fastest. 
  • The DHA has reduced the number of officers assigned to onshore visa processing, despite the number of people who make onshore visa applications in the last decade rapidly increasing  
  • Unjustifiable delays in 887 visa processing evidenced by a low rate of refusals. 

The Government must increase the proportion of permanent visa issuance within the migration system, allocate more resources to clearing the visa backlog they have inherited and provide clear information and grievance redress channels for visa applicants. 

Fighting for Fair Visa Processing

Sign up and help create a fairer society for migrant workers and temporary visa holders.