Perception is Reality

May 20, 2022
Myer Lipschitz

In the last couple of days I received two emails from clients which prompted me to write this blog. Client A was amazed that the process was so quick. Client B was bemoaning the fact that the visa process was taking an eternity. Client A is likely to recommend to friends and family that Australia operates a very efficient skilled migration program whereas client B would probably be advising friends and family of her dissatisfaction at the long processing times. Surely both can’t be right?

We believe what we experience to be accurate, and that forms the basis of our own realities and although our perceptions feel real, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily factual. Much depends upon the context in which we have our experience.

Anyone who filed a skilled visa to Australia prior to the Covid pandemic would have experienced at least a two-year delay in processing the visa because of Australia’s closed borders and the fact that Australia didn’t want to process visas for those overseas because that would add pressure on quarantine facilities in Australia during the pandemic.

Now that the pandemic is over, borders are well and truly open and with Australia suffering severe skill shortages, and state governments seemingly fighting over themselves to nominate skilled migrants, we are finding the process much faster. Of course, state governments don’t process visas but obtaining state nomination is an integral part of a general skilled migration visa.

The Department of Home Affairs processes visas and we expect processing times of general skilled migration visas to quickly come back to their historical turnaround times.

In some instances those submitting applications now are obtaining visa approvals ahead of the older applications, a situation that is hard to stomach for those that have been waiting for upwards of three years.

It’s not only general skilled migration visas that have been adversely affected by border closures, anyone applying for a temporary skill shortages visa (work visa) would have experienced lengthy delays. Traditionally these visas are processed within one or two months.

Likewise those already living in Australia while the border was closed who applied for permanent residence under certain streams (eg Business/Investor) also saw their visa processing times worsen, likely due to a pandemic related reduction in processing capacity.

Australia and New Zealand haven’t done themselves any favours over the last 2.5 years with the extended border closures and the length of time it has taken to process visas, and there will no doubt be a number of applicants who filed visas that feel hard done by, but it’s not the first time that government policy has unfairly prejudiced applicants and it certainly won’t be the last. I also don’t believe that Australia and New Zealand are unique in this respect.

I remember in the late 1990s when New Zealand changed its policy and adopted the skilled migrant category it offered refunds to those people who had filed visas under the previous policy. Australia did something similar in approximately 2008 but markets have short memories in my 30 years of experience in the migration industry.

The experience you have shapes your perception of the immigration process and how user-friendly that process is. People applying for residence in Australia now would have a very different experience to those that filed applications three years ago.

Some have commented that Australia and New Zealand have suffered reputational damage through lengthy border closures and lengthy processing times of skilled visas but I don’t think that this perception will be long lasting.

Those applying for visas post pandemic are going to have a completely different experience and we are already noticing increasing numbers of people registering for our online seminars and free preliminary assessments. We are also noticing that the quality of applicants have improved significantly.

I have mentioned in previous blogs that ultimately what Australia offers migrants will win out in the end. The lifestyle, opportunities for career progression, standards of living, child development, education and healthcare are unparalleled amongst developed countries.

No doubt New Zealand and Australia have tarnished their reputations for a cohort of applicants as far as their ability to effectively process visa applications, but ultimately Australia will succeed, not because of any policy settings by bureaucrats or politicians but because of the nature of Australian society and the wealth of opportunities that this country presents.

The term used to describe Australia is the “lucky country”. It’s generally used favourably, although the origin of the phrase was negative in its origin.

At the time the phrase was first coined, Australia’s climb to power and wealth is said to be based almost entirely on luck rather than the strength of its political or economic system, despite the incompetencies of the parliamentary representatives. I would add immigration policy to that list.

I would suggest that one could argue that Australia’s skilled migration program will succeed because of Australia and as country and its society. Certainly not because of a brilliant skilled immigration policy.

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