What You Need to Know about Application processing at the DHA


You prepare and lodge a migration application, either:

  • yourself, or,
  • engage a non-specialist who is a mere information gatherer and form filler

and you will be:

  • stressing and waiting up to one to two years for a decision
  • with your life on hold

only to receive a refusal decision resulting in significant:

  • legal complexity and possible ineligibility for a further application
  • cost
  • stress
  • delay

What has dramatically changed in application processing at the DHA?


Previously an application was processed by the DHA:

  • In a relatively non-complex, predictable and transparent manner
  • on its merits by a single decisionmaker
  • in a relatively short timeframe
  • with an opportunity to provide further documents if required


The DHA now utilises a Global Processing Model to process your application:

  • anywhere in the DHA global network of processing centres
  • in numerous stages with different decision makers each with differing and highly subjective processing requirements
  • utilising risk profiling and artificial intelligence determining the applicable scrutiny and quality of assessment
  • with lengthy and lengthening processing timelines
  • with increasingly complex and bureaucratic requirements and prescriptive procedures
  • including constant changes in Migration Regulations, DHA Policy Guidelines, and processing procedures and eligibility

resulting in the decision for your application:

  • lacking in predictability, transparency and accountability
  • variable and questionable standards of assessment, consistency and integrity
  • with refusals with limited or no opportunity to provide further documents or information
  • with significantly increased unlawful refusals from maladministration, lack of procedural fairness and jurisdictional error

Quality Assured Preparation of Applications at Strategic Migration

At Strategic Migration we:

  • Quality control application preparation
  • Lodge a quality assured application; and
  • Satisfy Migration requirements  

So, you can get on with your life with peace of mind and certainty, confident of migration success!!

It is absolutely essential your applications are prepared in 3 ways:


  • by a team of specialist, highly experienced and competent Migration Professionals
  • with a layer of quality assurance:
  • with the highest standard of rigour, attention to detail, accuracy and consistency of information and document provision 
  • compliant and risk managing Migration Law, DHA Policy Guidelines and Case Law
  • in a thoroughly professional manner presenting the very best case possible 

Secondly, with an understanding of how the DHA Processes Applications (see below).

Thirdly, avoiding Common Mistakes of Unrepresented Applicants or Non-Specialists (see below)  

This ensures your application achieves migration success with:

  • minimal complexity,
  • cost,
  • stress
  • delay.

Strategic Migration – Securing Your Australian Future


It is vital for applicants to understand How the DHA Processes Applications.

Your application is assessed as follows:

  1. Risk Profiling

Your applications lodged with the DHA are automatically assessed:

  • using risk profiling and artificial intelligence determinants
  • determining the level of risk and scrutiny to be applied and processing timelines

Applications assessed as high risk are subject to:

  • significantly higher levels of scrutiny
  • substantially longer processing timelines.

Refer to Risk Profiling Determinants (see below)

  1. Maladministration

There is increasing maladministration and processing errors by the DHA arising from:

  • cutbacks in resources at the DHA
  • attrition of senior management and experienced decisionmakers
  • efficiency dividends demanded of DHA staff

The peak industry body for Migration Professionals in Australia, the Migration Institute of Australia (MIA), has expressed its grave concern about the “large number of decisions involving maladministration, lack of procedural fairness and jurisdictional error” at the DHA.

  1. Privatisation of the DHA Processing

The MIA is alarmed about the “privatisation of the visa application system” by the DHA with:

  • the DHA contracting to Datacom for the immigration call centre work
  • privatisation of a range of visa assessment processing and client service work.

Visa application services have been privatised in the UK to Sitel for some time and the DHA is replicating this privatisation of visa assessment in Australia.

See the following for:

  • maladministration, inefficiencies, loss of over 50% of senior management and inadequate record keeping by the DHA.


  • the adverse effects of privatisation on government:



The following Risk Profile Determinants detail how your application is subject to:

  • significantly higher risk and assessment scrutiny
  • lengthy and lengthening processing timelines
  • grounds for refusal

in processing at the DHA.


  1. Industry of Concern

Certain industries deemed by the DHA to be high risk as a result of prevalent document fraud, underpayment of employees, employee abuse and where franchising is common etc.

  1. Employee Ratio Test

Businesses relying heavily on foreign employees e.g. Working Holiday Visa holders, Student Visa holders are heavily scrutinised, may have unannounced site visits by the DHA during processing to ensure compliance with Standard Business Sponsorship Obligations.

  1. Data Matching

The DHA data matches with other government bodies e.g. the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to ensure compliance with financial obligations e.g. salary and wages, superannuation guarantee contributions (SGC), Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) payments etc.

  1. Compliance Issues

If the business has current or previous issues with compliance with Standard Business Sponsorship Obligations e.g. sanctions and / or penalties, breaches / failure to comply with Standard Business Sponsorship Obligations etc.

  1. Adverse information

Adverse information received by the DHA about the business, directors, employees, shareholders, senior management, associated entities, etc. related to the business.

  1. Small Businesses with few (Australian) employees

The financial viability of small businesses and start-up businesses (operating for less than 12 months) is subject to significantly higher scrutiny and is considered high risk.

  1. Franchised businesses

Recent commercial and industrial experience with the franchising business model results in franchisees assessed with significantly higher scrutiny being considered high risk.


  1. Occupation of Concern

Certain nominated occupations undergo significantly higher scrutiny and often they have limiting caveats that must been addressed.

  1. Salary of Concern

Base salaries less than $65,000 are subject to significantly higher scrutiny and are considered high risk.

  1. Genuine Position

Business difficulty in establishing the nominated position is “genuine”, within the scope and scale of the business, e.g. small businesses, showing the nominated position has not been created for the purpose of sponsorship, alignment of the duties of the nominated position with the ANZSCO, satisfaction of the employee ratio test, the financial viability of the business to support the nominated position, there is no relationship between the company and the nominee, are subject to significantly higher scrutiny and are considered high risk.


  1. Visa Applicant Nationality

Visa applicant’s nationality is detailed in DHA statistical, intelligence and analysis reports where migration fraud and immigration compliance issues are prominent resulting in significantly higher scrutiny and considered high risk.

  1. Genuine Temporary Entry

The economic or political circumstances in the visa applicant’s country presents significant incentive for the visa applicant not to return to their home country or country of residence. The visa applicant appears to be using a series of temporary visas to maintain ongoing temporary residence greater than four cumulative years during the last five years.

  1. Partner of the Visa Applicant

There is a significant difference in the age and / or cultural background of the visa applicant’s de-facto or recently married de-jure partner.

  1. Health

Visa applicants with any health issues are subject to significantly higher scrutiny and are considered high risk.

  1. Character

Visa applicants with character issues are subject to significantly higher scrutiny and are considered high risk. These include both spent and unspent criminal convictions and offences regardless of their declaration in previous applications including Incoming Passenger Cards. This may also involve security checking conducted by the DHA and / or by other government agencies e.g. ASIO (the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation).

  1. Data Matching

The DHA data matches with other government agencies including ASIO, the ATO and Centrelink, and apply significantly higher scrutiny resulting in high risk.

  1. No professional qualifications

Visa applicants without professional qualifications relying on employment references and other documentation to evidence skills and experience to perform nominated position are subject to significantly higher scrutiny and are considered high risk e.g. DHA Integrity Checking to verify the veracity of the employment.

  1. Previous compliance with immigration law

Visa applicant’s noncompliance with visa conditions, visa cancellation or family members with previous issues of noncompliance with immigration law are high risk and subject to significantly higher scrutiny.

  1. Inconsistency in Information and Document Provision / Document Fraud

Visa applicant has inconsistencies in the documentation and information provided is subject to significantly higher scrutiny and is considered high risk. The DHA undertakes Internal Checking to ensure documentation and information is consistent. Failure to provide consistent information and genuine documentation may lead to significant penalties and sanctions, e.g. visa cancelation, and bars on future visa applications.

  1. Visa Applicant’s Immigration History

Visa applicant and / or their family members with an immigration history of concern including compliance with all previous visas are high risk and result in significantly higher scrutiny.

Common Mistakes by Unrepresented Applicants or Non-Specialists

Aoiding Common Mistakes of Unrepresented Applicants or Non-Specialists is essential to ensure your application is successful with minimal complexity, cost, stress and delay.

A non-exhaustive list of common mistakes in applications lodged at the DHA includes:

  1. Failure to appropriately check and review eligibility before application preparation
  1. Failure to obtain immigration advice and a Strategic Plan before application preparation
  1. Failure to check regular changes in Migration Regulations and DHA Policy Guidelines
  1. Failure to satisfactorily address Migration Regulations and DHA Policy Guidelines
  1. Failure to allow sufficient time and resources for professional and appropriate application preparation
  1. Failure to address inconsistent and conflicting information and documentation provision
  1. Failure to address insufficient information and documentation provision
  1. Failure to address impact of risk profiling, high risk assessment and scrutiny and lengthy delays in application processing
  1. Failure to understand processes and procedures of DHA and third parties i.e. Skill Assessment Authorities
  1. Failure to understand Health and Character criteria, processes and procedures
  1. Failure to address the disclosure of all Health and Character issues in previous visa applications and incoming passenger cards
  1. Failure to prepare the supporting documentation required for the application
  1. Failure to identify and address adverse information regarding the applicant, sponsor and / or nominator
  1. Failure to retain work rights during the application processing e.g. the applicant is only a Bridging Visa holder during application
  1. Failure to present applications and submissions professionally and in the best possible manner to avoid confusion and misunderstanding by the DHA Decisionmaker
  1. Failure to establish credibility and genuineness of application and applicant and / or sponsor / nominator
  1. Failure to appropriately manage interviews and integrity checking (e.g. employment references) by DHA and third parties i.e. Skill Assessment Authorities


Immigration advice in this document has been sanctioned by a Registered Migration Agent and is solely for the use of the intended recipient. However, Strategic Migration advises the reader that they must not take action based solely on the contents of this document. Strategic Migration expressly disclaims any liability should the reader act without a professional engagement with Strategic Migration.