Clearing a backlog of visa applications is an urgent priority for the new Federal Government, and a direction has been issued for more staff to be deployed to process applications.
Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Minister Andrew Giles issued the direction, with officers previously focused on travel exemptions already redirected to visa processing.
A surge capacity to work overtime, drawn from across the department and the Australian Border Force has also been established.
With unemployment at record lows, Mr Giles said the visa backlog had grown to more than one million. Victoria has the lowest unemployment in the nation and regional unemployment is 3.2 per cent overall; in Shepparton it is 2.8 per cent based on the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
“The processing of visas will continue to be a major priority for this government, but reducing the backlog of applications can’t happen overnight,” Mr Giles said.
He said the department was working through large numbers of older cases, as well as seeing application volumes increase across key programs.
“The number of applications received in June 2022 is 6.5 per cent higher than May 2022 — over the same period, there was a 10.6 per cent increase in applications finalised.” Mr Giles said.
The department is prioritising processing of key offshore caseloads, including temporary skilled, student and visitor visas, so more people can travel to Australia and assist with labour shortages.
Some 745,000 visa applications have been finalised since the beginning of June 2022, including over 645,000 offshore visa applications. This includes 388,000 visitor visas, 62,000 student visas and 9550 temporary skilled visas.