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Complaints about visa and citizenship applications

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) processes visa and citizenship applications. There are occasions when applications will be referred to other government agencies to conduct necessary background checks. When asked to do so by DIBP, ASIO may make a security assessment or provide advice in support of the visa process. The IGIS has the role of reviewing these actions to ensure they are legal and meet the required standard of propriety.

In 2016-17, the office received 253 visa or citizenship related complaints. In 2016-17 the average number of visa or citizenship-related complaints received per month was 21, compared to an average of 10 complaints per month in 2015-16.

As with previous years, the largest number of complaints made to the office came from individuals seeking skilled business or work visas (59 per cent). In 2016-17, there has been a reduction in the complaints relating to family reunion visas (from 20 per cent in 2015-16 to eight percent in 2016-17) and protection or refugee visas (from 21 percent to seven percent). The office also received a small number of complaints relating to security assessments for applications for Australian citizenship (five percent of security referral complaints).The most frequent complaint about visa or citizenship applications was the length of time taken to finalise an application beyond that listed on DIBP's website. Ordinarily the office will only take action on a complaint about a permanent visa where 12 months have passed since the visa application was lodged with DIBP; in the case of temporary visa applications, the office will review a complaint where three months have passed since the temporary visa application was lodged.

During the reporting period, 98 percent of visa and citizenship-related complaints related received by the office were acknowledged within five working days, well above our performance indicator of 90 percent. Of the visa and citizenship complaints received in 2016-17, 87 percent were resolved within 14 days of receipt. We consider a complaint about delay in visa or citizenship security assessments to be resolved once we have completed our administrative inquires and responded to the complainant. On average, we resolved visa and citizenship -related complaints within 8 days. We resolved 87 per cent within two weeks, exceeding our target of 85 per cent.

The office routinely engages with DIPB to ensure relevant information has been received from Australian intelligence agencies. In 2016-17, the office has sought to increase engagement with the Commonwealth Ombudsman in relation to visa and citizenship complainants in relation to delays which are not within the jurisdiction of the office.

HTML version of this annual report converted and prepared by XiNG Digital Pty Ltd.