Family visas: light at the end of the tunnel?

For as long as I’ve been working in this area, the family visa program has been in a bit of a mess.

I learnt from the beginning “don’t even bother with Remaining Relative visas, they take 30+ years to process”! I always wondered – what is the point of these visas? Similar processing times apply to Non-Contributory Parent visas which means that most of those parents who cannot pay the $40,000+ “contribution” may never be granted their visa, may sit on a Bridging visa for the rest of their life and never feel settled in this country with their family. When the Partner visa application fee doubled a few years ago to AU$7,000 (it is currently $7,715 + 1.4%CC surcharge!), it really did seem that things were getting out of control. The increased processing delays (temporary Partner visas applications are currently showing as being processed in between 22 and 26 months!) just add insult to injury.

Rather than trying to resolve these issues, the government is trying to change the Partner Visa process and make it much more of a challenge for people to be eligible – requiring the sponsor application to be approved before the visa applicant can lodge their application. In light of the processing delays over the last few years, this is a ludicrous suggestion but, knowing how the government has put huge spanners in the works for other visa programs, it is absolutely not surprising.

So, a Senate inquiry will be most welcome if the Senate are able to identify those issues that impact individuals like their mother and fathers or brothers and sisters; see the effect that these delays, the exorbitant fees, etc are having on these individuals for well over 10 years. We welcome sensible practical suggestions which work for both the government and the applicants.

Please, let’s not turn this into a political blame game. We don’t care who is to blame, we just want to see positive results for those affected.

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