February 19, 2013

The spouse queue

My wife and I were married over two years ago, but still wait for her full visa to live in Australia. She holds a PhD in electrical engineering from the UK and was lecturing at university before coming to Australia. However, without a permanent visa, she receives automatic rejection letters for any of the similar jobs she has applied for here in Australia. Her professional life has been put on hold, endlessly waiting for the immigration department.

The waiting list for spouses currently stands at some 45,000 people.

The government, in all it's bureaucratic wisdom, sets quotas for spouse visas it will process. These quotas fall 10,000 to 15,000 short of the numbers of loving couples applying, and many thousand less than the numbers of valid applications. So every year, year on year, the bloated queue gets longer.

the spouse queue

Last year, 2011-2012, there was a quota of 45,150 spouse visas, but 59,852 couples applied. Not surprisingly the numbers of those waiting jumped some 7,412 places.

Spouses are not refugees, but most often young couples in the prime of their working lives. My wife and many like her are highly educated professionals, skilled in ways Australia needs. By setting up the system this way, we are not only causing hurt and frustration, but foregoing millions in tax revenue, and thousands of hours of skilled work benefitting our community.

What, then, is the point of this policy? Beats me. Perhaps it is punishment for the crime of falling in love with an Aussie.