The Minister can set priority processing arrangements for certain skilled migration visas. Current arrangements continue to give regional employer sponsored visas the highest processing priority.
The priority processing arrangements enable the department to consider and finalise visa applications in an order of priority that the Minister considers appropriate.
The priority processing arrangements apply to applications for the following visas:
- Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)
- Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)
- Points-tested skilled migration.
Since 1 July 2017, processing priorities (with highest priority listed first) are:
- applications from people who are sponsored under the RSMS programme
- applications from people who are sponsored under the ENS programme
- applications from people who are nominated by a state or territory government agency
- applications from people who have nominated an occupation on the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) - Schedule 1 in effect since 1 July 2017
- all other applications.
Applications for visa subclasses 186, 187, 189, 190, or 489 which are lodged through SkillSelect will be given the highest priority within each priority processing group.
The changes to priority processing arrangements address the needs of industry by targeting skills in demand across a number of sectors, while ensuring that the Skilled Migration Programme is responsive to the current economic climate and the needs of the Australian economy.
Priority processing arrangements are subject to changes in response to Australia’s economic situation and do not change visa eligibility criteria.
Priority processing arrangements apply to current applications, including those in the final stages of processing. Departmental case officers must follow the direction made by the minister about priority processing and cannot process applications outside of the set order.
Refunds of costs incurred during processing are not available for delays in processing. Applicants are not entitled to a refund of their Visa Application Charge (VAC) or compensation for other costs incurred in making an application.
Priority processing groups
RSMS, ENS and state or territory nominated applications—priority groups 1, 2 and 3
Applications from people who are applying under the RSMS are processed as priority group 1. ENS is processed as priority group 2. Applications from people who are nominated by a state or territory government agency under a state migration plan receive the third highest level of priority processing.
Occupations on the MLTSSL—Schedule 1 in effect since 1 July 2017—priority group 4
All skilled migration applicants with a nominated occupation on the MLTSSL - Schedule 1 are included in priority group 4. This includes both independent and family sponsored applications.
All other applications—priority group 5
Skilled migration applicants with a nominated occupation that is not on the MLTSSL, and who are not nominated by a state or territory government under a state migration plan, will be processed under priority group 5.
Applicants should not contact the department to request that their application be exempt from the priority processing direction. Case officers do not have discretion to exempt applications.
Applicants who decide to withdraw their application are not entitled to a refund of the VAC or compensation for other costs incurred in making an application.
Summary of skilled migration visas subject to priority processing directions
The following skilled migration visas are subject to priority processing:
- Skilled – Independent (subclass 175)
- Skilled – Sponsored (subclass 176)
- Skilled – Independent (subclass 189) (Point-tested) stream
- Skilled – Nominated (subclass 190)
- Skilled – Regional Sponsored (subclass 475)
- Skilled – Regional Sponsored (subclass 487)
- Skilled – Regional (Provisional) (subclass 489)
- Skilled – Independent Regional (Provisional) (subclass 495)
- Skilled – Designated Area-sponsored (Provisional) (subclass 496)
- Graduate – Skilled (subclass 497)
- Skilled – Onshore Independent New Zealand Citizen (subclass 861)
- Skilled – Onshore Australian–sponsored New Zealand Citizen (subclass 862)
- Skilled – Onshore Designated Area–sponsored New Zealand Citizen (subclass 863)
- Skilled – Independent Overseas Student (subclass 880)
- Skilled – Australian-sponsored Overseas Student (subclass 881)
- Skilled – Designated Area-sponsored Overseas Student (subclass 882)
- Skilled – Independent (subclass 885)
- Skilled – Sponsored (subclass 886)
Summary of skilled migration visas exempt from priority processing directions
The following visa subclasses are exempt from priority processing and are processed in the order in which they are received:
- Skilled – Independent (subclass 189) (New Zealand) stream
- Skilled – Regional (subclass 887)
The following applications are also exempt from priority processing and will be processed in the order in which they are received:
- migration visa applications that are remitted to the department by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)
- applications where it is readily apparent the criteria for grant of a visa would not be satisfied
- applications from the holders of eligible subclass 495, 496, 475 or 487 visas for a Skilled—Sponsored Provisional (subclass 489) visa in the second provisional visa stream
- applications from subsequent entrant applicants.
Estimates of processing times that may apply to different types of applicants are provided as a guide only. As processing times are dependent on a range of factors, individual processing times may vary considerably from the published estimates. Estimates are subject to change in response to changes in application rates and skilled migration policy.
Information on estimated processing times is available on
Global visa and citizenship processing times.