Hundreds of engineering graduates have appealed to the Australian Government to start granting Subclass 476 visa. Many claim they have been waiting for the outcome for over 40 months and are in limbo.
Anmolveer Singh Taggar applied for his Australian 476 visa on 3 August 2018. He says, “I got my application applied through an agent locally. I personally have submitted medicals and PCC 3 times.”
It has been almost 44 months since his application was submitted. However, Taggar has not received any response yet.
He says,” Many like me have done the same. We all pending applicants are waiting since 2018, and 2019have surpassed the processing time duration .”
According to the Home Affairs website, the processing time for 90 per cent of the applications is 35 months.
Many applicants have appealed to the Australian Government to accelerate the process as these engineering graduates have been in limbo for over two to three years.
Another applicant Harpreet Singh, who had applied for a subclass 476 visa back in 2019, says, “It’s been 33 months since I am waiting for my application decision. I can understand that covid 19 pandemic impacted all visa processing; however, as all restrictions are ceased now, I expect that 476 visa applications should also be considered for immediate processing.”
“Like me, thousands of applicants from various countries have been waiting since 2018,” claims Harpreet Singh.
“Shocking Response Time”
Subclass 476 is a Skilled—Recognised Graduate visa that allows recent engineering graduates to live, work or study in Australia for up to 18 months. The applicants must have completed a degree or higher qualification from a specified institution within the past 2 years and be under 31 years of age.
The age condition has left many worried as waiting two to three years may make them ineligible.
“It is very shocking that the Australian Government has not yet decided on this category visa. We all were very hopeful for the resumption of grants when Australia announced its border opening on 15 December 2021. But still, no positive news has come out for pending applications,” says Taggar.
Department of Home Affairs’ response
In an emailed response, a departmental spokesperson told NRI Affairs that the Department was balancing immigration network resources to deliver on Government immigration priorities, despite the network continuing to operate at a reduced capacity due to COVID-19 impacts.
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The spokesperson said, “During the COVID-19 international border closure period, processing of Skilled – Recognised Graduate (subclass 476) visas was paused so as to reduce the number of visas that could not be used during the pandemic.”
“Processing times will depend on the global COVID-19 situation, including the availability of key services for biometrics collection, English language testing centres, panel doctor facilities and country by country pandemic restrictions.”
2,800 visa extensions
On 2 March 2022, Australia announced that current and former Skilled-Recognised Graduate (subclass 476) visa holders who lost time in Australia due to COVID-19 international travel restrictions would have their visas extended for 24 months.
On 5 April 2022, nearly 2,800 visas were extended, and eligible visa holders were notified of the extension of their visa on 6 April 2022. Visas have been extended until April 2024. This allows eligible visa holders an extra six months to travel to or remain in Australia.
READ: 476 Visa holders to get ‘much-awaited’ extension, till 2024
Eligible visa holders are those who were outside of Australia at any time between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021 while holding a Skilled-Recognised Graduate visa. Visa holders whose visas have already expired are also eligible if they had been unable to use the full period of their original visa due to COVID-19 international travel restrictions.
As at 3 April 2022, there were over 1.37 million (1,377,088) students, visitors, working holidaymakers, temporary skilled and other temporary work visa holders offshore who, if fully vaccinated, are now able to travel to Australia.
From 20 November 2021 (the week of tranche 2 border re-opening announcement) to 1 April 2022, the Department of Home Affairs has granted nearly 622,600 temporary visas offshore.
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