Would-be permanent residents living in Australia protest in frustration after overseas visa applicants get priority

Ragab Youssef was already frustrated by how long it was taking to process his application for a permanent residency visa.

Then the federal government announced it was going to prioritize offshore visa applications, to get more people coming to the country.

It was the last straw for the 34-year-old, who organized a protest in Adelaide’s CBD on Sunday attended by “hundreds” of similarly angry visa applicants.

“It’s not fair to me,” he told the ABC.

“[I am] supporting the Australian economy, paying my taxes, doing the hard work, and not getting any subsidies or help from the government, and at the end of the day, my visa takes longer to be granted just because I’ve stayed here.”

A man standing on a boat with the ocean view at his back
Ragab Youssef said the protest was about asking for fair and reasonable processing times for visas.(supplied)

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles announced the department was prioritizing processing of offshore temporary skilled, student and visas late last month.

The reallocation of resources was required “so more people could travel to Australia and contribute to economic growth, and assist with labor shortages”, a statement from the government at the time said.

It said staff previously working on travel exemptions had been redirected to visa processing along with staff from elsewhere in the department working overtime.

Mr Youssef said the backlog of visa assessments was leaving families already in Australia anxious and uncertain about their futures.

The mining electrical engineer, originally from Egypt, said that since he lodged his application for an 887 Regional Skilled visa in October 2020 the expected processing time had increased from 22 to 25 months.

The 887 visas are for people who have lived for at least two years and worked for a year full-time in a specified regional area.

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