The Department of Home Affairs has reduced processing times for partner visa applications to nearly half under the spousal sponsorship program.
The Department of Home Affairs has slashed the global processing time for partner visa applications to nearly half, dealing a much-needed relief to those waiting for an outcome in the wake of previously ballooning waiting period.
The DHA has recently dropped processing times for partner visas to 14-16 months from 21-26 months.
The global processing times for these applications were last updated on 22 August 2018 for the month ending 31 July 2018.
Partners of Australian citizens or permanent residents who apply for a partner visa from outside Australia were previously waiting up to 26 months, in some cases longer, before they could start living together in Australia.
“The news is music to ears for our clients waiting patiently for their applications to be finalised,” said Ranbir Singh from Lakshya Migration.
“The Department was already under fire for the horrendous wait times of up to two years whilst charging an exorbitant fee of over $7000.”
The visa processing delays ‘putting strain’ on relationships
SBS Punjabi previously reported that the delays in visa processing have resulted in major social and financial implications on some Indian-Australian couples.
Rupinder Kaur who works as an aged care worker in Melbourne got married to an Indian national in January 2017. Her husband, Amreek Singh applied for a partner visa in June 2017.
In the interim, Mr Singh applied for a visitor visa to be with his wife in Australia, but it was refused.
“It’s becoming too much to cope with... I hope they [the DHA] understand our emotional situation,” Mrs Kaur says with a deep sigh. “We are living on the edge. We cannot set long-term goals, let it be matters of financial or family planning. The delays are already putting strain on our relationship.
A welcome sign to ‘bring it back on track’
Mr Ranbir Singh who works as a migration consultant in Melbourne has welcomed the recent update on the processing times of partner visas.
“It’s good to see that it’s happening. I sincerely hope they bring it back on track. To make it less than six months would be an ideal situation for the applicants,” he says.
“The delays in visa processing have heavily impacted our clients. They become overly anxious when we advise them the expected time frame for a visa grant to be around two years.
“Some of the major challenges they talk about are delays in buying their first home, securing a job or planning a family....and in extreme cases, it also led to the relationship breakdowns.
Visa processing times ‘still not under control’
Mr Abi Sood who is awaiting an outcome of his wife’s partner visa application started an online petition to address the delays pertaining to partner visa processing times.
Reacting to the new announcement, Mr Sood said that it is still an ‘awfully long time’ when compared to countries like Canada and the United States of America.
“It is still not under control. I hope they’d bring it down to six months. The delays are already putting too much pressure on the couples,” said Mr Sood.
“Our lives are on hold just because they [the DHA] are taking too much time to decide whether a person is good enough to live in Australia with their partner,” he says.
“I’d suggest that if anyone has their application waiting longer than 14 months at this stage should reach out to their case officers.”
The Department earlier said the delays were due to high demand and an increase in the proportion of "high-risk" applications.
The number of partner visas has remained 47,825 in the annual migration program planning levels since 2014-15 despite the demand increased by more than 7 per cent in 2016-17 over the previous year to 56,333.