At the meeting with David Wilden at Australia House today, we were told as follows:
All the applications in hand from people in Categories 1 - 4 as listed in the FAQ of 23rd September 2009 are now under control.
DIAC estimate that there are about 3,500 applications in Category 5 - that is, State sponsored but the main applicant's occupation is not on the CSL. Mr Wilden has been told that DIAC are now in a position to make a start on processing the Cat 5 applications.
Mr Wilden said as follows:
Mr Wilden said that we have had him up late at night and out of bed before the birds in order to phone his colleagues in Australia to discover exactly what the plans are for the Category 5s because he had seen from Poms in Oz that everyone is particularly worried about this question in particular.
- Roughly 3,500 is the number of actual visa applications, not the number of people involved. (I checked this with him specifically and he was definite about it.)
- They will start to process the Cat 5s according to the dates when the visa applications were lodged and they will deal with the oldest applications first.
- They will make no distinctions between the different visa subclasses - first come, first served means what it implies in a situation where the occupation is not on the CSL but the applicant does have State sponsorship.
- There is no foundation to the rumour that tradies may be excluded from Cat 5 processing - the tradies are to be treated identically to people whose occupations are in ASCO Groups 1-3.
Mr WIlden stressed that he cannot say how long it will take to clear the backlog of about 3,500 Cat 5 applications. As & when they receive further applications from people with greater claim to priority, the applications with greater priority will be dealt with first.
The Famous Five were all PiO members (DanB1, Floater, Gollywobbler, RonnieRocket and Watneyni to put us in alphabetical order.) We were all sitting round the same table with Mr Wilden and we all heard him say exactly the same things. (Needless to say we repaired to a London hostelry afterwards to compare notes - thanks very much indeed to Watneyni for very kindly buying a round of drinks for us all.)
We were joined unexpectedly by a very helpful young man called Andrew. He has worked at the ASPC for a while but he is now in the UK, working with John Adams RMA at Immigration2Oz.com Andrew is not a PiO member [yet] but I am trying to encourage him/twist his arm! Andrew was involved with this part of the discussion so he heard Mr Wilden as well.
That they can't say how long it will take to clear the 3,500 or so Cat 5 applications is reasonable enough. Mr Wilden promised to find out how many of the 108,100 skilled PR & Provisional visas for 2009/10 have been granted as at 30th November 2009 and he said he will let us know as soon as he knows. Once we have that figure it will probably be possible to start making reasonably sensible guesses.
After the meeting the Famous Five agreed that this information is probably the most significant piece of info from today and that we would get it onto the forum with all possible speed, in its own thread to make it stand out.