Waiting: processing time for partner, child, parent and other family visas for Australia

When you apply to migrate to Australia to join your family members, you can sometimes experience quite a long waiting period or processing time for your application to be processed and a decision to be made by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). Just how long the wait will be may depend upon which category of family migration you have applied for.

Children, orphaned relatives, married and defacto partners (including same-sex partners), and fiances will be processed before other categories of relatives.  Further to this, those applications for partner visas that affect dependent children of Australian sponsors will receive higher priority than other partner visa applications. Within all these categories, relatives of Australian citizens may receive a higher processing priority than will the same category relatives of permanent residents.

Family members applying under other categories of family migration, such as parents, aged dependent relatives, remaining relatives or carers will not usually receive the same priority of processing. Applications made in these categories are processed in the order in which they are received by DIBP, but are also “queue jumped” by applications made under the higher priority visa categories noted above. This means that they can be continuously pushed to the back of the processing queue and has resulted in extraordinarily long processing times, currently ranging between around 4 years for a Carer visa to around 30 years for a Parent visa (non-contributory).

If compelling or compassionate reasons exist that you believe may warrant your visa application’s processing being given higher priority, then you (or your Registered Migration Agent) should notify the office through which the application is made. DIBP retains discretion in such cases as to what they consider qualifying reasons for such priority. Such discretion is guided by DIBP policy as found in the Procedures Advice Manual and other sources that case officers follow when considering their decisions.

If you need to know if your family member’s circumstances may qualify for priority consideration, you should ask a registered migration agent to advise you, as agents have access to the policy sources that will apply and can show you the likely strengths and weaknesses of any argument you are trying to make in support of priority of processing. However, as a general rule, family members missing each other is not usually considered sufficient reason for prioritising an application as this is considered to be something suffered equally by all families in the queue. However, serious illness of an Australian sponsor, or some other such exceptional circumstance, may be persuasive. As a guide, the circumstances contemplated would need to take the situation well beyond ordinary family ups and downs.

An exception to the orders of priority noted above is applications made under the “Contributory Parent” visa sub-classes. Applicants for these visas pay far higher fees associated with their applications, but are processed far more quickly than other parent visa applicants. Current processing times average 16 months.

Michele Clayton Migration Agents Registration Number 0957773

Legal Practitioner NSW 55486

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