New directions on priority visa processing: Who wins, who loses

Two recent ministerial directions specify which nomination and visa applications will be given priority processing.

The higher the priority, the quicker the visas will be processed. In sum:

Also important to note:

  • Holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or British National Overseas (BNO) passports will be given the highest priority within the variously prioritised applications.

  • Eligible passport holders onshore (ie. already in Australia) will be given first priority, then those offshore the next highest priority.

Who gets processed first?

The new directions came into effect on July 7. They apply to all future and in-progress skilled migration nomination and visa applications. Below is the order of priority in which applications will be considered:


For nominations

For visa applications


  • PMSOL occupations
  • Global Talent Employer Sponsored Agreement
  • Subclass 188 visa SIV stream
  • Agriculture sector occupation
  • Employer Sponsored or Regional Sponsored with PMSOL occupation
  • Agriculture Sector occupation
  • Global Talent Employer Sponsored Agreement
  • Global Talent Program applicants
  • Subclass 188 SIV stream
  • All other Subclass 188 applications


  • Critical Sector occupations not covered above
  • Critical Sector occupations with approved nominations not already mentioned


  • Employer Sponsored or Regional Sponsored visa by an employer who is a party to a labour agreement under a DAMA

  • Employer Sponsored or a Regional Sponsored by an employer who is a party to a labour agreement under a Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA)


  • Subclass 494 (Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional)) visa, with Accredited Status approved sponsor given priority within this cohort or lodged by a party to a labour agreement if not already mentioned

  • Subclass 494 (Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional)) with priority where nominated by an approved sponsor with Accredited Status or nominated by a party to a labour agreement


  • Employer Sponsored with Accredited Status approved sponsors or nominations lodged by a party to a labour agreement to have precedence

  • Subclass 491 (Skilled Work Regional (Provisional))


  • Subclass 187 (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme) lodged by Accredited Status approved sponsors to have precedence

  • Employer Sponsored with priority where nominated by an approved sponsor with Accredited Status, or nominated by a party to a labour agreement


  • All other nominations
  • Subclass 187 (Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme) with precedence to those nominated by an approved sponsor with Accredited Status are to have precedence


  • Subclass 489 (Skilled - Regional (Provisional))


  • Subclass 190 (Skilled - Nominated) visa


  • Subclass 189 (Skilled - Independent) visa in the Points-tested stream


  • All other visa applications

Note: Onshore applications (ie. applications made in Australia) will be given priority over offshore (those made outside of Australia) in 3 to 7.

Key takeaways
  • There is now more clarity on which types of nomination and visa applications will receive quicker responses.

  • The order of priority reflects the Australian government’s emphasis on attracting people with skills in critical occupations and Global Talent sectors, business investors, as well as those willing to live in regional Australia.

  • Unfortunately, this means applications that do not fall into those priority categories will face much lengthier processing times.

  • The high prioritisation of Hong Kong and BNO passport holders builds on the government’s commitment last year to allow Hong Kong passport holders on graduate and skilled worker visas to extend their temporary visas for another five years.
Have questions about how this policy change might impact you? Speak to one of our migration experts today.

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