We have been advised that all applications (be it business sponsorships, position transfers or 457 visa applications) are currently taking 4 to 5 weeks for allocation to a case officer and as such the processing times for a subclass 457 visa has increased to around 6 weeks. For higher risk countries this figure is close to 8 weeks.

This link provides you with the immigration department’s targeted processing times:


As a general proposition, the processing times will vary depending upon:

  • the complexity of your visa application;
  • whether you have lodged a decision ready application;
  • the department’s resources available at the time of allocation;
  • whether you have been randomly selected to undergo security checks.

Due to a raft of legislation changes introduced on 1 July 2013, the business centres have received a high volume of applications in June 2013. As such, the task of meeting timelines has become difficult and has led to some delays in the processing of applications. 

VAC increases from 1 September 2013

From 1 September 2013, the immigration department will increase all Visa Application Charges by 15% except those for Student and Tourist Visas.

For example, GSM Subclass 189 will rise from $3,060.00 to $3,520.00.


Transitional Provisions (Changes to the Changes)

English Language Ability

Transitional provisions have been introduced from 1 August 2013 to remove retrospective Subclass 457 legislation and to ensure that applicants are not disadvantaged by the changes.

Under this arrangement, applicants who lodged a Subclass 457 visa application prior to 1 July 2013 and who were exempt from the English language requirement at that time on the basis of their nominated occupation will continue to be exempt at the time of decision.

Additional to this, the Minister has decided that the English language requirement for the Subclass 457 caseload will continue to be a time of decision requirement. In effect, this means that the requirement under the vocational English definition that the applicant must have undertaken the test in the 3 years immediately before the day on which the application was made will not apply to Subclass 457 applications.

The effect of these provisions is to:

  • restore the exempt persons legislation if they applied before 1 July 2013;
  • provide that where an applicant, if they are not an exempt person and are asked to provide evidence of Vocational English, can sit for the English test after they have lodged the visa application and before the time of decision.

Skills Assessments (Program and Project Administrator or Specialist Manager)

Under departmental policy a case officer is able to request a formal skills assessment for any Subclass 457 application. This policy was in place prior to 1 July 2013 and remains in place post 1 July 2013.

Effective from 1 July 2013, however, the department has written into policy a requirement that all applicants nominated in the occupations of Program and Project Administrator or Specialist Manager nec undertake a formal skills assessment. This arrangement has been put in place because of significant integrity concerns which the department has detected in applications nominating these occupations. 

This requirement applies to all applications received by the Department from 1 July 2013 only, and accordingly the department will not apply, as a mandatory requirement, a skills assessment for applicants nominated in any occupations where the application was lodged prior to 1 July 2013.

Occupations removed from State-Territory GSM Nomination

The following six occupations (or occupation groups) for GSM points tested visas (subclass 190 and 489) can no longer be nominated:

  • Chemical and Materials Engineers (ANZSCO Group 2331);
  • ICT Business and Systems Analysts (ANZSCO Group 2611);
  • Electronics Engineers (ANZSCO Group 2334);
  • Telecommunications Engineering Professionals (ANZSCO Group 2633);
  • Other Engineering Professional (ANZSCO Group 2339);
  • Software and Applications Programmers (ANZSCO Group 2613).

The above six occupation groups reached their ceilings in the 2012-13 program year which resulted in intending migrants from these occupational groups not being issued with an invitation because the ceiling had been reached.

Occupational ceilings were reset on 1 July 2013 to allow intending migrants from these occupational groups the ability to be issued with an invitation. However, as DIAC continued to receive high numbers of EOIs for the aforementioned groups are now to be issued on a pro rata basis for each twice monthly invitation round over 2013-14 program year.

State and Territory Governments have been advised that if they have intending migrants for nomination in any of the six occupational groups who would have met the relevant cut-offs, they can refer these cases to the department for consideration of nomination on a case-by-case basis.

The intention of these changes is to ensure that the most highly skilled workers in these occupational groups are still eligible to apply for a visa. This will also avoid the situation of having a client being nominated or invited early in the program year at the expense of a more highly skilled intending migrant who cannot be nominated or invited later in the program year because the occupational ceiling has been reached. In this regard, SkillSelect is operating as intended to allow the best and brightest to apply for a visa, not on a first-in, first-served basis.