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From 18 November 2016, Australian citizen and permanent resident Sponsors of Partner Visa and Prospective Marriage Visa applications (“a partner visa”), are subject to character testing. In line with current Australian Government strategies to reduce family violence in the Australian community, the new provisions have been introduced to prevent Australians who have committed a relevant offence from being able to sponsor someone for a partner visa.
Changes to Priority Processing effective from 23 September 2009

The contents of this article are correct as at 23 September 2009

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship has set new processing priorities for certain skilled migration visa applications. The new direction will apply from 23 September 2009 and applies to new applications, and those already lodged or in the final stages of processing, and replaces the previous Priority Processing Direction (No. 40) which commenced on 1 January 2009.

What is priority processing?

Section 51 of the Migration Act 1958 gives the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship powers to consider and finalise visa applications in an order of priority that the Minister considers appropriate.

What has changed since 1 January 2009?

The new directions have set out specific categories of General Skilled Migration applications, differentiating and prioritising them in the following manner.


As at 23 September 200


Employer Nomination Scheme and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme applications


General Skilled Migration applications with:
i) A nominated occupation from the Critical Skills List; AND

ii) State/Territory government sponsorship


General Skilled Migration applications with:
i) A nominated occupation from the Critical Skills List; AND

ii) Family sponsorship


General Skilled Migration applications with:
i) A nominated occupation from the Critical Skills List


General Skilled Migration applications with:
i) S
tate/Territory government sponsorship


General Skilled Migration applications with:
i) A nominated occupation from the Migration Occupation in Demand List; AND

ii) Family sponsorship.


All other applications in the order they were received.


All General Skilled Migration visas are subject to the new direction, except for:

  • Skilled – Recognised Graduate (Subclass 476);
  • Skilled – Designated Area – Sponsored (Subclass 883);
  • Skilled – Regional (Subclass 887).

Applications under these subclasses will continue to be processed in the order in which they were received by the Department.

The Critical Skills List

The Critical Skills List (CSL) is a list of occupations focusing on medical and key IT professionals, engineers and construction trades.  Those who nominate an occupation on the CSL will have their applications prioritised.  Accountants are also on the CSL but they are only eligible for English if they have Proficient English, which is a score of at least 7 on each of the four components of an ILETS test.

It should be noted that the sole purpose of the CSL is to determine an applicant’s eligibility for priority. It is distinct from the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL), which will still determine whether an applicant is eligible for bonus points.

For more details please see The Critical Skills List

State/Territory Government Sponsorship

Each State and Territory within Australia has their own list of occupations for skilled migration.  These vary from state to state targeting applicants with occupations needed in each region.  In addition to this process of targeting applicants by occupation, State and Territory Governments are able to sponsor up to 500 applicants per year in any skilled occupation.

To obtain permanent residency under this scheme, applicants must first apply to the State or Territory government to obtain sponsorship.  Only once an applicant has been approved for sponsorship by a State or Territory government are they eligible to apply for skilled migration through the Department of Immigration.

Sponsorship by a State or Territory government will immediately give an applicant’s permanent residency application priority, regardless of whether the occupation nominated by the applicant appears on the CSL.

Family Sponsorship

Some General Skilled Migration categories require sponsorship. Unless you have been nominated by a State or Territory Government, to be granted a Skilled – Sponsored visa (subclass 176 or 886) or Skilled – Regional Sponsored visa (subclass 475 or 487) you must be sponsored by an eligible relative who meets all of the following:

  • Aged 18 years or over
  • Usually resides in Australia
  • Is an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.

Family sponsorship may be a necessary condition before an application will be given priority.

The Migration Occupations in Demand List

The Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) lists those occupations and specialisations identified by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) that are in short supply. Nominating an occupation on the MODL will ordinarily entitle the applicant to bonus points. However, nominating an occupation on the MODL and having family sponsorship will give the application priority.

For more details please see: The Migration Occupations in Demand List


Application Processing Times

Nominated Occupation on Critical Skills List

Onshore or Offshore General Skilled Migration

Time of lodgement

Estimated finalisation time of visa



Before the end of 2009

Within 12 months of lodgement date



Later in 2009

Not before the end of 2011



Later in 2009

Not before the end of 2012

These application processing times are indicative only and are based on the current visa application rate, the Priority Processing Direction (in effect from 23 September 2009), and the availability of places in the Migration Program.

If you would like to discuss the contents of this article please click this link to contact Visa Lawyers Australia.