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Subclass 887: Australia explains delays in processing permanent residency visas for regional migrants

Adelaide's main shopping precinct, South Australia. (file) Source: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Applicants of Subclass 887 Skilled Regional visa have launched an online campaign #887applicantslivesmatter requesting the Australian government to expedite the visa process. They say the 'long delay' is causing them mental and financial hardships. The Department of Home Affairs says it processes visas as per the government's priorities set through ministerial orders.

Adelaide-resident Deepesh Khattri says he will lose his job next week as his employer, one of the big four banks in Australia, has decided to release all max term contract workers by 15 December.

"The max term contract was for the temporary visa holders like me. Had the government processed my permanent residency visa on time, I would have saved my job," Mr Khattri told SBS Hindi.


Highlights

  • Some applicants claim they have been waiting for more than 15 months
  • Applicants say they face difficulties in jobs, their children pay international tuition fees, can't buy houses
  • Department of Home Affairs admits to increase in visa processing times

Mr Khattri and his wife are currently on Subclass 489 Skilled Regional (Provisional) visas. This temporary visa allows migrants to live and work in specified regional areas. 

These visa holders can apply for permanent residency through the Subclass 887 Skilled Regional visa. Applicants need to meet some requirements, including living for at least two years and working full time for one year in a specified regional area.

Adelaide-resident Deepesh Khattri has urged the federal government to speed up the visa process.
Adelaide-resident Deepesh Khattri has urged the federal government to speed up the visa process.
Supplied by Deepesh Khattri

Mr Khattri and his wife applied for their Subclass 887 Skilled Regional visa on 21 December 2020. 

"We haven't heard from the government since," Mr Khattri said, adding he is worried about his family's income as his wife is on maternity leave and he just lost his job. 

"Temporary residents don't enjoy the same benefits as permanent residents. This includes childcare and Centrelink benefits," Mr Khattri said. 

Gurpreet Singh, another Adelaide resident and applicant of Subclass 887 Skilled Regional visa, says temporary migrants like him can't buy a house in Australia without paying extra fees.

"We are counted as foreign investors when it comes to buying property. We can't claim first home buyer and other  grants," Mr Singh said.

Gurpreet Singh with his wife.
Gurpreet Singh with his wife.
Supplied by Gurpreet Singh

Mr Singh is currently on a bridging visa. His wife, who has been in India for nearly two years, can only travel to Australia once their permanent residency visa applications are approved. She couldn't travel earlier due to COVID restrictions and her 489 visa had expired.  

"I don't understand the delay in visa processing. Earlier, during the peak pandemic between March and June, onshore applicants received their permanent residency grants in three months. Now, the visa processing time has jumped to 19 months," he added.  

Department of Home Affairs, in a written statement to SBS Hindi, admitted to an increase in visa processing time in recent months. 

"Processing times for the Skilled Regional (Permanent) (subclass 887) visa have increased slightly over recent months. In July 2021, processing times were between 14 and 17 months, and in November 2021 they were between 18 and 19 months," it said.

"The Department endeavours to finalise subclass 887 visa applications within reasonable time frames, subject to the government's priorities, including those expressed in relevant Ministerial Directions, in relation to the skilled migration program," it added.

The Department's website has provided a list of skilled migration visas outlined in the Ministerial Directions. 

These visas subclasses include 124 (Distinguished Talent), 186 (Employer Nomination Scheme), 87 (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme), 188 (Business Innovation and Investment), 189 (Skilled - Independent). 

Also, 190 (Skilled - Nominated), 489 (Skilled - Regional (Provisional), 491 (Skilled Work Regional (Provisional), 494 (Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional)), Subclass 858 (Global Talent).

For temporary residents, priority is being given to Subclass 482 (Temporary Skill Shortage) and Subclass 457 (Temporary Work (Skilled).

The Department said it will extend the visas for skilled regional provisional visa holders (subclasses 489, 491 and 494) to ensure they are not 'disadvantaged'.

"Visas will be retrospectively extended where they have ceased," it said.

"These measures will provide regional provisional visa holders and former regional provisional visa holders with additional time to live and work in regional Australia and be eligible for permanent visas.

"These changes will be implemented progressively from December 2021 through to 01 July 2022 and further details will be available on the Department of Home Affairs website shortly," it added.

Onshore applicants of Subclass 887 Skilled Regional visa are urging the government to expedite the process.

"My son is taking a forced break from university as we wait for the permanent residency visa. If he decides to attend now, we will have to pay the international students fees, which are nearly six times higher," said Harpreet Singh, who has been waiting for his visa since September last year.

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