Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)/Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) – Decision Ready Application Processing Frequently Asked Questions
Listed below are a range of frequently asked questions (FAQ) relating to the introduction of the Decision Ready Processing scheme in the Permanent Employer Sponsored Entry (PESE) Program.
When is this Decision Ready processing scheme available?
The scheme is currently available. Therefore, any ENS/RSMS application lodged from now on could be declared decision ready.
I have previously lodged decision ready ENS/RSMS applications that are currently awaiting decision. Does this Decision Ready processing scheme apply to existing applications?
Given the number of ENS and RSMS applications the PESE Branch currently has on hand, applications involving some 22,000 persons, if we were to include the capacity to nominate applications already on-hand as decision ready, the potential demand could mean that we would have no capacity to process applications remaining in our queue.
While the decision ready option is an attempt to derive the processing efficiencies for DIAC that accompany a decision ready application, this clearly needs to be balanced against the processing obligation to the total application cohort. We are trying to achieve a sustainable balance between our front end loaded cases and those cases coming from our on-hand caseload.
What if I withdraw the application in the queue and re-lodge the application with a decision ready certification?
The processing network have been advised that if the withdrawn application had an associated Visa Application Charge that this would generally not be refundable under such circumstances and that the re-lodged application should be queued, i.e. not afforded priority processing.
What happens to the existing ENS/RSMS applications currently in the queue?
We are very conscious of the applications that we have on-hand awaiting a decision. As you would be aware we recently transferred cases from Parramatta to Perth and Melbourne to try and reduce the waiting time for applications awaiting allocation in Parramatta.
A small processing team has also been established in the Brisbane Office to take more cases from the Parramatta on-hand caseload.
We are working toward a consistent time between all three processing centres for the allocation of those cases that are on-hand. Please be assured that our objective is to keep that allocation time to the absolute minimum.
How long does it take for a certified Decision Ready Application to be finalized?
We are anticipating Decision Ready Applications will be allocated within a week of lodgement. However, allocation may take longer at the Parramatta Office because of the mail handling processes in NSW. It is then anticipated that the case officer will assess that case in the week following the allocation. If applications are in fact decision ready, we are anticipating that most will be decided within two to three weeks of lodgement.
Where should I send the certified Decision Ready checklist and application to?
The certified decision ready checklist should be attached to the paper ENS/RSMS application.
Our preference is that the application is mailed to the PESE processing office responsible for processing cases for the State or Territory where the sponsoring business’s has its head office located.
Can I certify an ENS/RSMS application as decision ready even if clients are seeking exceptional circumstances?
Yes, if the application relies on an “exceptional” claim and a submission is provided in support of that claim as part of the application and every other requirement is provided the application can be certified decision ready.
Should I include the Second VAC payment at the time of lodgement for a decision ready visa application?
It depends. A Second VAC Instalment applies to all applicants who do not have a functional level of English.
Where the primary applicant can evidence functional English any Second VAC Instalment applicable can be paid at time of lodgement.
Do NOT pay Second VAC Instalment at time of lodgement if relying on exceptional circumstances for the primary applicant. What the case officers would expect as part of the decision ready application is the details of the claim for exceptional circumstances. If the case officer is of a view that there are exceptional circumstances, they will then request the Second VAC Instalment.
Do I need a special letter to apply for an Overseas Police Clearance?
No, generally you can apply for an overseas police clearance without obtaining any special document from the Department. The exception to this is applicants who are in Australia who require a Singapore or Hong Kong clearance. For Singapore or Hong Kong police clearances we would ask that you send an email to our mailbox in the relevant processing centre (as stated below) in advance of lodging the application. We will then send you a specific letter to enable your client to obtain the police clearance.
Parramatta Office (for NSW, QLD, ACT caseloads): email@example.com
Melbourne Office (for VIC, TAS, NT caseloads): firstname.lastname@example.org
Perth Office (for WA caseload): email@example.com
If an application is lodged without a required police clearance, the application will generally be considered to be not decision ready.
We are also aware in some instances DIAC must write to obtain the police clearance, i.e. for Spain and Israel. In such instances, rather than exclude such applicants from the decision ready option, we will accept these applications as decision ready if every other requirement is addressed.
Do visa applicants need to undertake health examinations if they are offshore?
It is our understanding that in most instances clients are able to undertake medicals offshore in advance of lodging their applications.
In some instances panel doctors will not undertake a medical assessment in advance of application lodgement. If such instances do occur we are unable to assist with resolving them. If a medical can not be obtained before lodgement the application should not be declared decision ready.
In most instances the main challenge is that the panel doctors report goes directly to the Health Operations Centre so that the agent is unable to confirm that health clearances have been finalised.
From a “decision ready” perspective we do not want applications certified as decision ready only to find upon allocation that there is no record of health being done. Rather than excluding totally this offshore cohort, we propose that where your client has undertaken an offshore medicals that you wait two weeks after the medicals are done before submitting the application. In certifying the application decision ready, we ask that you advise when and where the medicals were conducted. We will check on-line for the medical record when we receive the application, if the record is available we will allocated as decision ready. If not we will wait two weeks and check again, if the record is still not there we will queue the application.
We have had feedback that for onshore medicals that there might be different approaches being taken to whether the hard copy record of the medicals is provided as part of the application process.
It has been suggested that the same on-line check available for offshore applications could be used for onshore applications. The processing network is being consulted on this issue and we will advise further with respect to the process for onshore health as it relates to decision ready applications. At this stage please follow previous advice with respect to evidencing health for onshore applications.
What happens if a certified Decision Ready Application is found to be missing information/documents?
In such instances your decision ready checklist will be returned to you with a brief explanation of why the application is not decision ready. That particular application will be queued. A strike will be issued to the Migration Agent accordingly. Should an agent accumulate three such “strikes” and any further certifications from that agent will no longer be accepted and their applications will be queued.
A strike will only be issued if a case officer and their supervisor are in agreement that a strike is warranted.
Will the Case Officer requests for additional information/documents if they are of the view that a certified Decision Ready Application should be refused?
One of the issues that came up when we moved to the 2 day processing model was that some clients received a refusal within 2 days of application. The general reaction was that we hadn’t given due consideration to these applications and we should have given the opportunity for further input.
A decision ready application is by definition decision ready, whether it be a refusal or a grant. For example, if the application is relying on exceptional circumstances the full case needs to be presented. It should not be anticipated that the case officer will consult you as the agent before making the decision, whether that be a grant or refusal. Of course in some instances the case officer will want to clarify something or other on the application but contact from the case officer after lodgement and in advance of the decision should not be an expectation.
In this example, the alternative is not to provide the exceptional circumstance and not certify the application as decision ready. The application will be queued and when it is allocated the case officer will likely ask for a submission on the exceptional circumstances. (Strictly speaking they would be within their rights to make a decision on the basis of the material before them.) When the submission is received the same scenario as applied with the decision ready application will apply, i.e. the case officer will likely make a decision on the submission before them without further consultation.
With respect to the three strikes – does it apply to the individual agents or to the organisation and for how long will the ban be place?
The strike applies to individual agents and not organisations.
We haven’t considered a time frame for the exclusion. At this stage we are hoping we won’t be in that situation. The period may go to how reckless the migration agent was about accumulating the three strikes. It is also possible that at some time in the future we are able to return to the 2 day processing workload with our entire caseload.
If I lodge a certified decision ready nomination with the related visa application, but the visa application is incomplete, what will happen?
The nomination will be allocated for priority processing and the visa application will be queued. It would be our preference in such circumstances that either:
- The nomination is lodged and the visa application is retained until it can be lodged with a decision ready certification; or
- The Nomination is retained and lodged with the visa application when both can be certified as decision ready.