Home Affairs told to allocate staff to clear visa backlog

By Anna Macdonald

July 27, 2022

Andrew Giles
Minister for immigration, citizenship, migrant services and multicultural affairs Andrew Giles. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

The government has directed the Department of Home Affairs to devote more staff to clearing the visa backlog, naming it an ‘urgent priority’.

Minister for immigration, citizenship and multicultural affairs Andrew Giles cautioned the backlog would not be cleared overnight. 

“People reallocated to dealing with the visa applications on hand need to be trained and skilled before they can go about this important work,” Giles said. 

Since May 2022, 140 new department staff have been placed in visa processing roles. 

The minister added the number of applications in June was 6.5% higher than in May, with a 10.6% increase in applications finalised. Since June 2022, 745,000 visa applications have been finalised.

Giles was also critical of the previous government, saying the backlog had risen to nearly one million under it. 

Former immigration minister Dan Tehan — now shadow minister for immigration and citizenship — has said the visa backlog was due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“One of the commitments that we had when we were in government was obviously to make sure that we got rid of that backlog and we had put extra resources to ensure that would happen,” Tehan told SBS Hindi.

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is currently assessing the Department of Home Affairs’ management of family reunion and partner-related visas, due to be tabled in November. The ANAO is currently taking contributions from the public on this matter. 

On student visas, Department of Education secretary Michele Bruniges is working alongside Department of Home Affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo to clear the backlog of student visas, as previously reported in The Mandarin

Last week, education minister Jason Clare said Home Affairs had brought on more than 100 staff to deal with the backlog. 


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