The Department of Immigration and Border Protection of Australia has played down its decision to cease the processing of over sixteen thousand ”Priority 5” claims. Their reason? They claim that those who are affected had the option of just lodging an application for other visas.
Just last week, Australia’s Immigration Department ceased their processing of the skilled migration visas under 3 subclasses, after making an announcement that it would do so earlier in 2015.
There were a lot of people who were dismayed with the decision, applicants who were expecting a claim for what they refer to as the ”points visa,” which is also being called the ”Priority 5” visa.
However, the Department released a statement that said the decision was made based on the numbers and the act of being fair. A spokesman for the Department said, ”Most of the offshore applications in priority group 5 are for occupations that are not currently in demand on the Skilled Occupation List,” he stated. ”This means that they are less likely to get a job if they migrate to Australia permanently.”
”That is why they are pushed to the end of the processing queue,” he continued on to say. ”The Government has determined that it is unfair to keep them waiting in the queue.”
The spokesman also stated that most of the offshore applications in priority grou 5 are for occupations that are not at present in demand on the Skilled Occupations List, or SOL.
The spokesman also said that the Department is receiving more applications than there actually are available visas, and gives priority to the applications for processing according to the legislation.
The announcement to “cap and cease” affected a lot of people overseas, who have lodged an application for permanent skilled migration to Australia under 3 visa subclasses:
- subclass 175 (Skilled Independent)
- subclass 176 (Skilled Sponsored), and
- subclass 475 (Skilled Regional Sponsored)
The Department also explained that there are approximately sixteen thousand lodged applications which would be ceased, which means that that they will also be getting a refund for their visa application charge.
Steps have been taken for Legal action
Ms Marion Le is a registered migrant agent. She is also a member of the Migration Institute of Australia.
Ms Le said that the Migration Institute of Australia (MIA) had already taken the necessary steps to file a legal action against the decision, as they are claiming that it was unconstitutional.
”I do not doubt that it will be challenged and from my understanding of it, it probably will be overturned,” Said Ms Le. ”But in the meantime, we have got a whole lot of people who are in serious trouble because they have been waiting for such a long time to have a decision made on their legally and legitimately lodged applications for some general skilled-migrant visas.”
Applicants were ‘Misled’
Ms Daniela Rios, a sponsor based in Sydney, said that her brother had waited more than 6 years for his visa to arrive.
”My brother, he applied in May of 2009 and he’s been waiting for 6 and a half years and that means that [at] the time of his application, he was thirty three years old and now he is almost forty, which means that he won’t be able to get the points anymore.”
Ms Rios is claiming that her brother did not know that there would be a cap this year and is putting the blame on the government of Australia for misleading applicants.
Ms Le said that the process of letting the applicants know about the cap system had been quite complicated, and also said that the Australian government provided the applicants with very little notice between the announcement of the changes and the date that the cap was implemented.
”Michaela Cash – formerly the Assistant Minister for Immigration – registered the order for the ‘cap and cease’ in September but it was not actually posted on to the Department’s site,” Ms Le said. ”We were not told until just 3 days before she moved into her new portfolio. So no one was given any notice.”
Affected Skilled Workers
Gagan Singh, an Indian resident, is one of those who were affected by the new ruling. Mr Singh stated on an interview with the Punjabi program by SBS Radio that he had been waiting for a long time to get a response from the authorities of Australia.
He expressed how disappointed he was with the decision. He also shared that his life has been on hold because of all this waiting, as well as his wife and son’s life too. ”It has been 5 years and now I was expecting my visa will come through, but suddently the government has done this,” he said. ”I am very disappointed because the time I have lost will never come back.”
Mr Gagan Singh said that he strongly felt those who applied for the ”Priority 5” visa, just like hime, had received unfair treatment.
“We are skilled workers,” Mr Singh declared. ”My occupation was in demand when I filed my visa application, and we can contribute to the economy of Australia.”
”We are not refugees,” he added, ”or people who are making an illegitimate entry into Australia, that is why they must consider our application.”
Those who applied are going to be given a refund of the cost of their applications, declared the federal government, however, Ms Le argued that it was simply not enough considering the massive negative implications of the issue.
”We have got a whole lot of people out there – thirty thousand odd people,” Ms Le stated, ”Some of them offshore of course but we have got some very, very disgruntled people out there and the government that once again has made a very shortsighted decision and one that is going to impact not only on the people who have applied for the visas but also in many cases on their family members here.”