An online petition has been
launched, asking that DIAC not
penalise Australia visa applications
affected by priority processing
It's been almost two months since 23 September's changes to the visa processing priorities, and applicants are still reeling from them; unsurprising, considering that thousands of people who were within weeks or months of receiving an Australia visa grant have now been told that they will have to wait until 2012 for their application to be finalised.
It was a move by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) that we described as "badly researched, ill conceived, poorly managed and a step backwards for Australian immigration policy" in this blog, which seems to be an opinion shared by many of the applicants affected by the changes.
In fact, some are so frustrated by DIAC's "extremely unfair practice" that they have set up an online petition to protest the changes. Click here to see it for yourself, or read on for Frank Claassen's introduction to the petition:
"On September 23 2009, the Australian Department of Immigration & Citizenship announced its new list of processing priorities for the General Skilled Migration program effective immediately. Unlike prior changes, the latest changes have been applied to all GSM applications, both unallocated applications and applications already allocated to Case Officers and in the process of being finalized.
We feel the implementation of these changes to applications already in the process of being finalized to be an extremely unfair practice and respectfully ask the department to reconsider this decision. We ask that DIAC apply fair practice and not penalize applications already in the process of being finalized.
It is unfair to make applicants wait even longer when we are so close to the end of what is a most stressful experience and have already spent thousands on medicals, police clearances and other associated costs which will now go to waste and probably have to be redone.
Many of us have been involved with the immigration process for very long periods, some close to two years or more. Each time we get close to getting our visas, the rules change and our families are placed under further undue stress and we have to continue living in limbo.
This petition is also in support of the petition against the changes that were implemented in January 2009 which have negatively affected applications lodged under the 2007 - 2008 rules, which can be viewed here."
While it's always encouraging to see the Australian immigration community band together like this, DIAC aren't in the habit of bending to public pressure (as Minister of Immigration Chris Evans emphasised in his recent radio interview, where he stoically defended the department's actions).
Sadly, with DIAC under pressure from other governmental departments and Australian bodies to more tightly target Australia’s skills needs with the General Skilled Migration program, it seems unlikely that the petition will become anything more than a cathartic way for frustrated applicants to let their feelings on the changes be known.
However, with the soon to be announced MODL review set to make sweeping changes to Australia immigration, hope is still on the horizon for the thousands of affected applicants. While it seems very unlikely that the September 23 changes will be reversed, the MODL review could provide a new pathway for affected applicants, or at least provide more applicants with access to priority processing. Unfortunately though, any positive updates to the Australian migration process will only be made as and when DIAC are ready.
- Tom Blackett is Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau
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