Some of the most common questions we receive about processing times:

  • Why is my application taking so long?
  • Why does my friend’s application have a different processing time?

Most of the visa applications have an estimated processing time on the Department of Home Affairs Website. As the name suggests, this is an estimation. This means that it can change regularly, and the Department is not legally bound to finalize your application within the published timeframe. As you may already know, a lot of factors can affect the actual processing time, such as:

  • The availability of case officers. For example, during the pandemic last year, most of us were requested to work from home when we can. This is likely the same with the Department, and this would have slowed things down.
  • The amount of work required for each application. For example, some case officers may need or choose to conduct background and/or verification checks. This can make the processing time longer, especially if they have to contact third parties overseas.
  • Internal priorities. From time to time, the Department can change their processing priorities to better deal with the current situation/circumstances. For example, since the pandemic, the Department has been altering their processing priorities, so that certain applications can be processed and finalized to support our country.
  • Sometimes, it may just be pure luck and unfortunately no one has control over this.

In this blog, we want to focus on one of the most recent directions from the minister, which specifies the current processing priorities for visa applications. Hopefully, this will help you understand better on why your application may be taking a bit extra time than expected. A basic breakdown of the priority as below:

  • The top priority is given to visa applications that are associated with the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List – see this link ( for the 18 occupations currently listed.
  • Some global talent visa and business migration programs also have the top priority.
  • The next priority is given to visa applications for an occupation in critical sectors. At this stage, only the following are considered critical:
    • Ztravelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
    • Zproviding critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
    • Zwith critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services (such as in medical technology, critical infrastructure, telecommunications, engineering and mining, supply chain logistics, aged care, agriculture, primary industry, food production, and the maritime industry)
    • Zdelivering services in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery (such as financial technology, large scale manufacturing, film, media and television production and emerging technology), where no Australian worker is available
    • Zproviding critical skills in religious or theology fields
    • Zsponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)
    • Zwhose entry would otherwise be in Australia’s national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority.
  • Subclass 494, especially in the labour agreement stream or when the sponsor is accredited
  • Subclass 491
  • Subclass 187
  • Subclass 489
  • Subclass 190
  • Subclass 189 (Points-tested Stream)
  • All other visa applications

In most instances, onshore applications will be given priority over offshore applications.

Therefore, based on the above priority directions, for example if you are applying for a student visa or a graduate visa, you may (but not always) need to wait for a bit longer, because at the moment they are at the bottom half of processing priority list.

If you have already submitted a valid visa application and have been granted a bridging visa, generally speaking your lawful status in Australia would not be affected. However, if your current visa is expiring, and you still have not lodged another visa application, we strongly recommend you to get in touch with our migration agents to discuss, so that we can plan the best possible pathway for you.