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March 12, 2024
March 12, 2024

Ministerial Direction Number 102, under section 499 of the Australian Migration Act, outlines the priority order for processing various Family visa applications. This direction plays a crucial role in how visa places are allocated within the program year, emphasizing the Australian government’s approach to family reunification and its efforts to manage the migration program efficiently and equitably.

Priority Order and Its Implications

The direction categorises Family visas into two main groups based on processing priority:

High Priority Group:

This includes visas for Partners and dependent children (subclasses 100, 300, 309, 801, and 820), Orphan relatives (subclasses 117 and837), and Contributory parent visas (subclasses 143, 173, 864, and 884). These categories are given precedence over others, reflecting the government’s emphasis on reuniting immediate family members and those contributing significantly to the Australian community through the contributory parent visa arrangement.

Lower Priority Group:

This group comprises Carers (subclasses 116 and 836), Parents (subclass 103 and 804), Remaining Relative (subclasses 115 and 835), and Aged Dependent Relative visa categories (subclasses 114 and 838). Although these visas are crucial for family reunification, they are processed after the high-priority categories.

The distinction in processing priority means that more visa places are allocated to partners and dependent children of Australian citizens and permanent residents, highlighting the government’s focus on supporting immediate family unity.

Capping and Queuing System

To manage the Family visa stream effectively, the Australian Department of Home Affairs implements a capping and queuing system. This system is designed to assess applications in an orderly and fair manner, based on the date of lodgment:

Assessment and Queue Placement:  Once an application is assessed and meets the initial criteria, it is assigned a queue date and placed in a global queue.

Release from Queue for Processing:  Applications are released from the queue based on their queue date for final processing. This phased release helps manage the limited number of visa places available each year.

No Guarantee of Immediate Visa Grant:  It is important to note that being released from the queue does not guarantee an immediate visa grant within the current financial year. The availability of visa places and the fulfilment of all visa requirements play a critical role in the final grant decision.

Future Processing: If an application cannot be finalized within the current financial year, the applicant retains their place in the queue for consideration in subsequent years, subject to the availability of visa places.

Implications for Applicants

The capping and queuing system, along with theprioritization of certain visa categories, significantly impacts the waitingtimes for Family visa applicants. These waiting times can vary due to severalfactors, including annual planning levels, the withdrawal of applications, andvisa refusals. Therefore, it is challenging to estimate the exact time framefor visa processing.

Planning Levels for 2023–24

The government’s decision to maintain these planning levelsinto the 2023–24 permanent Migration Program year, with 8,500 places allocatedfor the Parent category, signals a continued emphasis on parentalreunification. This decision also reflects the government’s response to theongoing need for family migration pathways that accommodate the desire ofAustralian citizens and permanent residents to reunite with their parents.

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