The Federal Budget last week provided some important insights into Australia’s Immigration
policy moving forward to 2021 and beyond.
As is typical with Immigration matters there are winners and losers.
Net Overseas Migration Collapses to Lowest Level Since World War II
The Budget gave a clear indication of the significant drops that has occurred to Net
Overseas Migration due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The numbers are due to collapse to negative levels for the first time since World War II, with a drop of 72,000 people predicted for the 2020-21 financial year.
Net Overseas Migration numbers look at the net gain or loss of population through
immigration (migrant arrivals) to Australia and emigration (migrant departures) from
This was to be expected due to the large numbers ofvisitors, students and other temporary visa holders leaving the country in droves during COVID. In addition, there are very limited visas being granted to applicants to enter Australia from overseas. So this has had a huge effect on Net Overseas Migration numbers.
Migration Planning Levels Hold Firm
The Government will maintain the 2020-21 Migration Program planning level at 160,000
places for all visas. How will they do this? Well from data released they will allocate 77,300 places to the Family Stream (mainly Partner Visas) on a one-off basis, this is a huge jump as last year's allocation was only 47,732. Time to find love in Australia, it seems.
And the winners are ….
The Budget has stated that priority will be given to Onshore Partner visa applicants and
especially those whose Australian sponsor lives in a designated regional area. Essentially, those who do not live in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. This fits in with the government's overall plan to incentivise people to move out of our large cities. Time to pack up and move to Wollongong it seems.
Also good news for those looking to apply for Employer Sponsored, Global Talent and
Business Innovation and Investment Program visas as they will be prioritised within the Skilled Stream. This could mean it will become much tougher for those applying for points based visas. eg 189/190/491.
Want a Partner Visa? Well, how's your English?
The Government will introduce English language requirements for Partner visa applicants and their permanent resident sponsors.
Its aim is to enhance social cohesion and economic participation outcomes.
This will be a huge change and has not been required ever before for Partner Visas.
This will make many Partner visa applicants (and Aussie PR sponsors) come out in a cold sweat for sure.
When will this be introduced? Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge has stated that this will apply to prospective partner visa applications, from about the middle of next year,".
What level of English will be required? From what we understand, an applicant and their
Permanent Resident sponsor will need to have met a ‘Functional level’ of English or to have at least made reasonable efforts to learn English.
The minister commented that:
"By reasonable efforts we mean for most people that would be doing about 500 hours of free English language classes."
Most likely passport holders from the UK, Ireland, Canada, USA and New Zealand will not need to sit a english test, they will be glad to hear.
These changes will certainly put more pressure on couples who have been hit hard by
COVID 19, many losing their jobs and now having the added burden to try and meet a
certain level of English.
Sponsorship Approval First
If couples applying for a Partner visa had not had enough changes well another huge
change could be on the way.
The Budget outlined that the Government will apply the ‘family sponsorship framework’ to Partner visas.
This will mean that before applicants can lodge a Partner visa they will first need to obtain an approved sponsorship.
Currently, the Sponsorship application is submitted after the visa is lodged and not before.
If this is introduced it will have a huge effect on applicants onshore holding temporary visas and needing to apply for the Partner Visa before their visa expires, as an approved Sponsorship application will be needed first.
For example, if John’s visa is expiring in 2 months and he has not had his sponsorship
approval come through yet, well this may mean he cannot apply for the visa and obtain an associated bridging visa to stay. It may mean many applicants onshore in Australia having to leave and lodge from overseas.
In other Budget announcements, the government is offering Prospective Marriage 300 visa holders access to a visa application charge refund. This is seen as bad news for those who were granted the Prospective Marriage while overseas and are stranded offshore and cannot enter Australia.
All these changes really make me realise how many hoops prospective migrants go through just to be able to call Australia home….
Andrew EP McAuley
Registered Migration Agent