Senator Chris Evans
spoke on ABC radio
While the Australia visa processing delays are big news to us and our clients, the news hasn't really permeated mainstream media. However, it was gratifying to hear Australian Immigration Minister Senator Chris Evans questioned by presenter Peter Mares on ABC radio's 'The National Interest' programme last Friday.
You can listen to it for yourself by clicking here; the entire interview is just under 15 minutes in length, and is recommended listening for anyone caught by the Australian visa processing changes (although Senator Evans' statement that "it's not a delay in processing, it's a prioritising" is unlikely to provide any relief to applicants who have had their application 'prioritised' until at least 2012).
The interview was full of interesting quotes from Senator Evans including his statement that there are now approx. 30,000 onshore and 105,000 offshore visa applicants delayed as a result of the processing priority changes), but see below for some more choice quotes from the Australian Immigration Minister:
Senator Evans on the status of applicants caught by the processing changes:
"They're not on hold. What people do is they apply for permanent migration to Australia, and they're assessed, and we determine, based on the needs of Australia and our priorities, who gains permanent migration. We operate the scheme in support of the national interest so people may be facing longer waits in some occupations but others are getting quicker treatment if they're in occupations which are necessary for the growth of our economy."
Senator Evans on the changes to priority processing and the long waits many visa applicants are facing:
"They've always had to wait. We determine the size of the migration program. Quite frankly, if we decide that it's going to be 10,000 people next year, they might be waiting 20 or 30 years. We're trying to give them an indication on the current policy settings and current levels of migration on when they're likely to have their application considered. Applying to migrate to Australia doesn't give you the right to migrate to Australia."
Senator Evans on the possibility of refunds for General Skilled Migration applications:
"I've asked my department to have a look at whether we can't we can do something in terms of people who've have paid application fees but seek to discontinue their application, because I do think the current system doesn't do well in that area."
(Minister Evans later clarified his position, stating that that the government is "not in the position to give refunds as the legislation prevents it" but stating that they "keep accepting applications from people who don't qualify" and they are looking at alternative systems so "people aren't paying the money up front".)
It will be interesting to see if Senator Evans provides any further comment on the current Australian visa processing priorities situation, although an announcement regarding the MODL review changes should be made relatively soon, which might finally provide potential migrants with an understanding of what to expect from the Department of Immigration in the future.
- Tom Blackett is Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau
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