Australia: New Directives for Priority Consideration of Skilled Visa Applications

August 24, 2021

Key Points 

  • New priority allocation directives for Australia’s skilled visa programs for Australia came into effect on July 7, 2021. These directives (specified by the Immigration Minister) intend to ensure certain cohorts of applications are afforded priority and to help support the government’s post-COVID-19 recovery effort and expedite processing for critical industry sectors. Under the latest Ministerial Directions, the Australian Government will afford priority consideration to applications under the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visas programs made by Hong Kong and British National (Overseas) (BNO) passport holders, and those which relate to occupations on the Priority Skilled Migration Occupation List (PMSOL)  
  • This would be followed by TSS visa applications made under Global Talent Employer Sponsored (GTES) programs, applications with occupations in the agricultural and other critical sectors and those submitted for regional Australia. Applications sponsored by employers with Accredited Sponsor status or under labour agreements then follow
  • The allocation directives also apply a similar prioritization hierarchy to Employer Sponsored or Regional sponsored visas. This is followed by Significant Investor provisional visas and other provisional visas under the Business and Innovation program; and provisional regional visas which take precedence to other Employer Sponsored or Regional sponsored visas, Skilled Nominated, Skilled Independent visas, and all other visa applications   
  • The government will continue to exercise discretion to process highest priority applications first
    • Priority will be given to applicants within Australia. Those applicants outside Australian borders will be processed behind in-Australia applicants. 

Overview 

Further details regarding new processing directives are as follows: 

Processing of TSS visa applications 

New Priority Order: 

1.  Applications submitted by Hong Kong and British National (Overseas) (BNO) passport-holders within Australian borders. 

2. Applications submitted by Hong Kong and British National (Overseas) (BNO) passport-holders outside Australian borders. 

3. Applications submitted for PSMOL occupations, under a GTES Agreement, identified through the Global Talent program or for agriculture sector occupations. 

4. Applications submitted under other Critical Sectors identified by the government. These sectors must be identified as “critical” in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery effort. 

5. Applications submitted under a Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) program, by an Accredited Sponsor or under an approved Labour Agreement; and, 

6. All other applications, especially all other skilled permanent residence submissions.

  

New Priority Order: 

1. All skilled permanent residence or provisional visa applications submitted by Hong Kong and British National (Overseas) (BNO) passport-holders within Australian borders. 

2. All skilled permanent residence or provisional visa applications submitted by Hong Kong and British National (Overseas) (BNO) passport-holders outside Australia. 

3. Applications for Employer Sponsored visa or a Regional Sponsored visa submitted for PMSOL occupations, for agriculture sector occupations, under a GTES Agreement, identified through the Global Talent program. 

4. Significant investor provisional visas and other provisional visas under the Business and Innovation program. 

5. Applications submitted under other Critical Sectors.  

6. Applications for an Employer Sponsored visa or a Regional Sponsored visa by an employer who is a party to a Labour Agreement under a Designated Area Migration Agreement. 

7. Applications for a Subclass 494 (Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional)) visa 

Note: Within this priority level, special precedence will be afforded to applications where sponsors hold Accredited Sponsorship or an approved Labour Agreement.  

8. Applications for a Subclass 491 (Skilled Work Regional (Provisional)) visa .

9. Applications for an Employer Sponsored visa.

Note: Within this priority level, special precedence will be afforded to applications where sponsors hold Accredited Sponsorship or an approved Labour Agreement. 

9. Applications for a Subclass 187 (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme) visa .

  • Note: Within this priority level, special precedence will be afforded to applications where sponsors hold Accredited Sponsorship or an approved Labour Agreement. 

10. Applications for a Subclass 489 (Skilled - Regional (Provisional)) visa .

11. Applications for a Subclass 190 (Skilled - Nominated) visa .

12. Applications for a Subclass 189 (Skilled - Independent) visa in the Points-tested stream.

13. All other visa applications. 

What are the Changes? 

The latest Ministerial Directions enable the Australian Government to expedite visa applications lodged by Hong Kong and British National (Overseas) (BNO) passport-holders ahead of other cohorts; this is in response to political challenges in Hong Kong (SAR) in 2020. Additionally, the latest changes allow for additional prioritization arrangements for Australia’s agriculture sector. 

NOTE: Ministerial Directions made under Section 499 of Australia’s Migration Act allow the Australian Government to prioritize certain cohorts of applications over others based on current government policies.      

Looking Ahead 

Australia is monitoring opportunities to bolster its post-pandemic recovery effort and support Hong Kong nationals. It is possible that additional changes and updates may develop in coming months. Employers with talent in Australia or Hong Kong should keep abreast of all policy updates. 

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Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. Envoy is not a law firm, and does not provide legal advice. If you would like guidance on how this information may impact your particular situation and you are a client of one of the U.S. Law Firms, consult your attorney. If you are not a client of a U.S. Law Firm working with Envoy, consult another qualified professional. This website does not create an attorney-client relationship with either U.S. Law Firm.

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