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GSM Processing Update

The contents of this article is correct as at 26 July 2011.

Effective from 1 July 2011, the Department of Immigration & Citizenship has introduced new priority processing arrangements.

These arrangements are intended to give regional visas the highest processing priority.

Essentially, the new arrangements have divided the former Processing Group 1 into new Priority Groups 1 and 2.

Former Processing Groups 2, 3 and 4 have become Processing Priority Groups 3, 4 and 5 respectively.

Post-1 July Priority Processing Groups

The new processing priority groups are:

  1. Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) and Subclass 887 applications
  2. Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) applications
  3. Applicants nominated by a state / territory government and nominated skilled occupation is on the relevant State Migration Plan (SMP)
  4. Applications with a nominated skilled occupation on the 2011 Schedule 1 Skilled Occupation List (SOL)
  5. All other applications

Note that the list of eligible occupations for General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa applications was previously known as SOL Schedule 3. From 1 July, the relevant list is SOL Schedule 1.

Priority Group 5

Note that Priority Group 5 applicants with a nominated occupation that is not on the SOL Schedule 1 (in effect at 1 July 2011) can only move into a higher priority group by lodging a new application with an employer sponsorship or a state, or territory government nomination in an occupation specified under a state migration plan.

Alternatively, applicants can only nominate a different occupation that is on the SOL Schedule 1 by lodging a new application. It is not possible to change a nominated occupation or to change to an employer sponsored or state nominated visa category, unless a new application is lodged and a new application fee paid.

Who is affected?

Note that the new priority groupings apply to visa applications that were not finalised before 1 July 2011, regardless of whether the application was made before this date. This includes those applications in the final stages of processing.

DIAC has advised that case officers must follow the new priorities and are not able to respond to requests to process individual applications outside of the order set out in these processing priority arrangements.

The processing priorities apply to the following visa subclasses:

  • GSM: Subclasses
  • ENS: Subclasses 121 and 856
  • RSMS: Subclasses 119 and 857]


The following visa subclasses are exempt from priority processing and will be processed in the order in which they are received:

  • Skilled – Recognised Graduate subclass 476
  • Skilled – Graduate subclass 485
  • Skilled – Designated Area – Sponsored (Residence) subclass 883

An exception also exists for visa applications which have been or are remitted by the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT).

A further exception exists for visa applicants who are claiming to be a family member of a person who has already been granted their visa (eg subclass 485) and who did not make a combined application with that visa holder.

All of the exempted applications mentioned above will be processed in the order that they are received.

If you have any questions concerning this article, please click this link to contact Visa Lawyers Australia.