You want to move to Australia and you need to complete your visa application. The problem is, you don’t know how long it’s going to take. Here are some of the general visa processing time frames for popular Australian visas.

image-Australian-visa-processing-times

*Note: There is no exact answer when it comes to Australian visa processing times, they are constantly in flux and there is no way of knowing exactly how long it will be before you get an answer on your visa. These times are guidelines set out by the Australian government and are subject to change.

Visa processing times from fastest to slowest

The Australian Department of Home Affairs updates the site with the full list of visa processing times monthly. These times are averages as the time period can change based on application volume, seasonal peaks and complex cases. The average times are altered further due to the Covid pandemic and Australia’s border closures and some visas are not open for processing.

The Australian migration skill stream

If you are looking to immigrate to Australia, these are work and study visa options to fill shortages in the Australian labour market.

The processing times are:

Visa subclass Visa name 75% of applications processed in 90% of applications processed in
500 Student visa (higher education sector) - currently not being processed 44 days Six months
858 Global Talent visa 82 days Four months
500 Student visa (postgraduate research sector) - currently not being processed Three months Six months
417 Working holiday visa - only open to tourism and hospitality sectors who were granted visas prior to 20 March 2020 but couldn’t come because of Covid. They may be eligible for a nil VAC WHM Three months Six months
494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional visa (provisional) Four months Eight months
491 Skilled Work Regional visa (provisional) - State/Territory government nominated regional Five months 11 months
190 >Skilled Nominated visa Five months 20 months
186 Employer Nomination Scheme visa Six months 11 months
491 Skilled Work Regional visa (provisional) - Family sponsored regional Nine months 11 months
188 Business Innovation and Investment visa (provisional) - Significant investor stream 11 months 14 months
476 Recognised Graduate Route 15 months 20 months
189 Skilled Independent visa 17 months 30 months
489 Provisional Skilled Regional visa (invited pathway) 23 months 28 months
188 Business Innovation and Investment visa (provisional) - Business innovation stream 30 months 33 months
188 Business Innovation and Investment visa (provisional) - Investor stream 33 months 34 months

See also: When will international students be able to study at an Australian university?

The Australian migration family stream and visitor visas

These are residential visas to reunite Australian citizens and permanent residents with loved ones from other countries. The processing times are:

26 months
Visa subclass Visa name 75% of applications processed in 90% of applications processed in
600 Visitor visa (sponsored family) - currently not being processed Seven months 12 months
600 Visitor visa (tourist) - currently not being processed Eight months 20 months
801 Partner visa (permanent) 10 months 17 months
100 Partner (Migrant) visa 17 months 22 months
309 Partner (Provisional) visa 22 months 29 months
300 Prospective Marriage visa 23 months 30 months
820 Partner (Temporary) visa 25 months 33 months

How the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Australian migration

The skill stream

Currently, only a few Australian skill stream visas are being processed for offshore applicants. The skill stream currently focuses on three visa categories to assist Australia’s economic rebound from the pandemic’s devastation.

These are:

  • Business Innovation and Investment Programme
  • Global Talent Programme
  • Employer-Sponsored Programme

An offshore foreign national seeking an Australian work visa needs to meet certain criteria. This includes having a career on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) and receiving employer sponsorship for the job in question. If your job is not on the PMSOL, you are still able to write an expression of interest for an Australian work visa but the application process cannot start until international borders reopen. It’s a good idea to complete the expression of interest to ensure it will be towards the front of the queue when you are able to move to Australia post Covid.

Alternatively, if you run your own business or have the funds to invest in Australia, you may be able to apply for a Business Innovation and Investment visa, or you need to qualify for a Global Talent visa to be eligible to move to Australia.

See also: How I moved to Australia during the pandemic.

Factors that influence visa processing times

There are other circumstances that can affect how long your Australian visa takes to get processed. These include factors such as:

  • Whether your visa application is complete and all the supporting documentation is included
  • The time taken to respond to Australian Home Affairs’ requests for additional information
  • How long it takes to receive information from external agencies. This includes, but is not limited to, health tests, character tests, and national security requirements
  • How many places are available in the migration programme

How we can help you move to Australia

Don’t know what supporting documentation you need to include in your Australian visa application? Want to know more about a visa not on our list above? We’re here to help. Hiring us means hiring a business with over 20 years of immigration and nationality experience who treats every case on an individual basis.

We have offices in Cape Town, Melbourne, and London to help you navigate this complicated time in history.


Considering the move to Australia? If you’d like more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at migration@sableinternational.com or by calling +27 (0) 21 657 1526.

Our registered migration agents can offer you expert advice and representation for moving to and gaining permanent residency in Australia.

You can also take our free Australian visa assessment.

We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you'll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.