Parent Visa Processing Timelines – The Gory Details

We’ve seen the time taken to process Contributory Parent visas blow out significantly over the last few years.    How bad can it get?

The time taken for a subclass 143 Contributory Parent visa application to be processed to a decision has increased significantly in the last few years.   From a processing time of typically 18 to 24 months a few years ago we now see the Parent Visa Centre deciding visa applications that were lodged more than 4 years ago.

Indeed, the Australian Government’s allocation of visas to the parent visa program has completely failed to keep pace with a level of demand that was surely to be expected given the large number of visas granted annually under the skilled and partner visa programs.

Indeed, when the Federal Budget papers were released last week the number of visas available to parent visa applicants for the program year to 30 June 2021 was reduced to 4,500.

In the COVID-affected program year to 30 June 2020 the ceiling on Contributory Parent visa numbers was 6,096, with only 4,399 granted across the Contributory and non-Contributory visa classes.

In the program year to 30 June 2019 the number of visas granted across the Contributory and non-Contributory visa classes was 6,805.

Following an information request of the Department of Home Affairs we now know that the numbers of visas being sought as at 30 September 2020 across the Contributory Parent visa subclasses were:

  • Subclass 143 – 53,444
  • Subclass 173 – 2,884
  • Subclass 864 – 3,447
  • Subclass 884 – 146
  • TOTAL – 59,921

Clearly these statistics indicate a processing time for Contributory Parent visa applications way in excess of that being referenced on the Department’s website (Updated: 23 September 2020): ” … based on current planning levels, we estimate new Contributory Parent visa applications lodged that meet the criteria to be queued are likely to take approximately at least 58 months to be released for final processing.”

We acknowledge that processing priorities can change quickly, as we have seen with the increased number of partner visa applications announced last week – due primarily we suspect to increasing public awareness through the media of the delays in such visa applications being processed to a decision.

However, until there is a similar level of public awareness of – and concern for – the position facing parents unable to join children in Australia we fear it is unlikely there will be any improvement in the processing timeline for parent visa applicants.