Businesses and Industry Groups Call for Visa Processing to be Sped Up

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Businesses and Industry Groups Call for Visa Processing to be Sped Up

Businesses and Industry Groups Call for Visa Processing to be Sped Up

Two years after Australia’s international borders were closed due to the pandemic, skills shortages are still being felt in industries across the nation.

While international borders have opened and we have been able to welcome back international students and skilled workers, the backlog of visa applications has added to the delays in visa processing.

Many, including business owners and industry bodies such as the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia are calling for visa processing times to be sped up. Many businesses rely on Australia’s skilled migration program to boost their workforce but the backlog and delay in visa processing is placing a strain on these businesses.

The lack of skilled workers has industry groups asking for the migrant intake to be raised to help fill labour and skills shortages however with a backlog of visa applications in the pipeline, the government is unlikely to increase these numbers anytime soon.

Why is there such a delay in visa processing?

While many believe that once the international borders reopened that migration would go back to what it once was, this isn’t the case. The rules are still in place and people still need visas to enter Australia – this takes time.

During the pandemic, entering Australia while international borders were closed was reliant on travellers being approved for travel exemptions. At the time, with little to no visa processing taking place, more than half of the staff responsible for processing visas were redirected to approving or reviewing travel exemptions. Now that visa processing is open, staffing is an issue in that department contributing to the backlog.

Earlier in the year, the government put plans in place to help with the worker shortage. This entailed relying on backpackers and international students to fill skills gaps. As an incentive, the government offered to refund visa application costs for working holiday makers who arrived between the 19 January and 19 March 2022 and increased the 40-hour-a-fortnight work cap for student visa holders.

While this has helped ease some strain, it was a temporary measure and Australia still needs skilled workers.

The other impacts of delays in visa processing

Obviously, the delays in visa processing haven’t helped the skills shortages issue but there are other ramifications of these delays.

There are some businesses that rely on international students and other migrants as their customers. One particular business that provides training for international students was forced to lay off staff when international borders were closed in 2020. When international borders were closed there were no international students entering Australia, so they had very few clients and as a result not enough work to keep their entire staff employed. While this business was affected, there was a flow on effect from this. Other industries such as hospitality and tourism suffered greatly due to the lack of international students.

There were reports earlier in the year of restaurants poaching staff from rival restaurants in order to keep their doors open. The delay in visa processing saw a trickle of international students arriving so restaurants relying on international students to fill positions in their restaurants were struggling with the lack of staff available and as such took matters into their own hands.

Businesses and industry groups are aware that it will take some time to overcome current labour shortages but feel that if visa processing is expedited then these labour shortages will be resolved a lot sooner.

Visa Solutions Australia joins with industry groups in calls for visa processing to be accelerated. If you would like to speak with a registered migration agent, call the Visa Solutions team on 1800 828 008 or send us an email.

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