The Department of Immigration and Citizenship is to begin allocating visa applications in the Priority Group 5 category to case officers to speed up progress.

A DIAC spokesman said that the oldest applications made in Australia will be processed first, followed by those made outside of Australia.
'While we can't tell every applicant exactly when their case will be allocated, this progress is positive news for all applicants. When your application is allocated to a case officer, the department will contact you. If you haven't heard from us, you should keep checking the department's website for updates to the allocation dates for general skilled migration visas,' the spokesman said.

'The number of Priority Group 5 applications processed will depend on how many applications are lodged in higher priority groups and other factors including any change in the size of the Migration Programme, so we can't give you an exact time frame when all applications will be processed. Many Priority Group 5 applicants still face a considerable wait until their application is allocated to a case officer for processing and may want to consider other options available,' he explained.

'We expected to see progress for applicants who had been waiting the longest for their visas to be processed,' the spokesman added. He confirmed that there are currently approximately 27,347 applications lodged from in Australia and 15,284 applications lodged from outside Australia Priority Group 5 cases awaiting allocation. There are hundreds dating back to between 2007 and 2005.
Skilled migration applications are processed in a particular order set by a Ministerial Direction on processing priority. Highest priority is given to applications from people who are employer sponsored under the RSMS programme or who have applied for a Skilled Regional (subclass 887) visa, then applications from people who are applying under the ENS programme, followed by applications from people who are nominated by a state or territory government agency for an occupation specified on that agency's state migration plan and finally applications from people who have nominated an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List.
'Priority processing arrangements have been designed to complement other recent changes to skilled migration to ensure that the economy gets the skills it needs now. They help to better address the needs of industry by targeting skills in demand across a number of sectors, and help ensure that the skilled migration program is responsive to the current economic climate and the needs of the Australian economy. Priority processing arrangements are subject to further change in response to the economic climate and the demand for particular skills in the Australian economy,' the spokesman explained.

'Priority processing arrangements apply to current applications, including those in the final stages of processing. Departmental case officers must follow the direction made by the minister about priority processing. Case officers are not able to respond to requests to process individual applications outside of the order set out in these processing priority arrangements. Refunds of costs incurred during processing are not available for delays in processing,' he added.