Family stream visa applications sponsored by permanent visa holders who arrived in Australia as illegal maritime arrivals (IMAs) will now be given the lowest processing priority. This means their applications will not be processed for several years.
On 19 December 2013 the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection issued new processing priorities within the Family stream of the migration programme.
How the new processing priority works
Lowest processing priority will be given to Family stream visa applications sponsored by a person who arrived in Australia as an IMA and now holds a permanent visa. This means these applications will only be processed after all other Family Stream applications have been processed.
Lowest processing priority does not apply to applicants who are sponsored by Australian citizens. Processing of these applications will continue as normal.
There is no exception for affected family members facing compelling or compassionate circumstances.
If you are affected by the change
If your sponsor for a family stream visa is an IMA who holds a permanent visa, such as a Protection visa (subclass 866), you should carefully consider whether you want to continue with your application. You need to be aware that your application will be given lowest processing priority and will not be processed further for several years.
If you decide to lodge but then change your mind, there will be no refund of the Visa Application Charge. This is the case even if you have already completed DNA tests, and health and security checks.
The lowest processing priority does not apply if your sponsor is an Australian citizen.
If your sponsor has now become an Australian citizen, please advise the department using Form 1022 Notification of changes in circumstances
Permanent protection visa holders who arrived in Australia as an IMA before 13 August 2012
If you are a permanent protection visa holder who arrived in Australia as an IMA before 13 August 2012, you may still propose family members under the humanitarian programme. However, these applications are given the lowest processing priority and are unlikely to be successful.
How the Minister is able to change visa processing priorities
Under section 499 of the Migration Act 1958, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection is able to give a direction to officers of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to determine in what order they should consider visa applications under the migration programme.