Budget News For Immigration 2020-21

Posted on October 12, 2020 by Benson Shi

Budget News For Immigration 2020-21

Partner visas

Sponsorship requirement

The Government will apply the family sponsorship framework to Partner visas which will mandate character checks and the sharing of personal information as part of a mandatory sponsorship application and subject the sponsor to enforceable sponsorship obligations.

English language requirement

The Government will introduce English language requirements for Partner visa applicants and their permanent resident sponsors. These changes will help support English language acquisition and enhance social cohesion and economic participation outcomes. The applicant and permanent resident sponsor will be required to have at least functional English or to have at least made reasonable efforts to learn English. The requirements to obtain functional English can be found at the following link here.

The minister’s office has stated that the new language requirement would not need to be met until applying for the permanent resident (subclass 801/100) stage, which is usually after two years from the date of the subclass 820/309 visa application being lodged.

These changes are expected to be implemented from the middle of 2021.

Refunds and waivers of visa application charges due to COVID-19

The Government will refund or waive the visa application charge (VAC) for temporary visa holders affected by the COVID-19 travel ban. Prospective Marriage, Pacific Labour Scheme, and Seasonal Worker Programme visa holders will be able to access a VAC refund. Temporary skilled workers and visitor visa holders will be eligible to have the VAC for a subsequent visa application waived, to allow them to return to Australia once travel restrictions are lifted. Working holiday makers will be eligible to have the VAC for a subsequent visa application waived, to allow them to return to Australia once travel restrictions are lifted or otherwise be able to access a VAC refund.

VAC refunds and waivers will be available to current visa holders who are unable to travel until the border reopens.

New Zealand pathway to permanent residency

The Government will reduce the income eligibility requirement for the New Zealand stream of the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa (the Pathway), and promote take-up of the Pathway by eligible New Zealand citizens.

Eligibility for the Pathway will be extended to Special Category (subclass 444) visa holders who have a taxable income at or above the Temporary Skilled Migrant Income Threshold for at least three of the last five income years, including the most recent year. The Government will also provide clearer public information on the Pathway, undertake an advertising campaign and contact potential applicants to promote take-up.

Student visas

The Government is ensuring that COVID-19 and related travel restrictions do not unduly affect international students and their eligibility for post-study work visas.

The Government is waiving the visa application charge for Student visa (subclass 500) holders who are required to lodge a further Student visa application to complete their studies or to remain in Australia as a result of travel restrictions. International students and recent graduates who are eligible for a Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) and unable to travel to Australia will also be allowed to apply while offshore.

Student visa holders (subclass 500) will not be limited to the pre-COVID 40 hour per fortnight work limit in:

  • supermarkets (up to 30 April 2020)
  • aged care with an aged care Approved Provider or Commonwealth-funded aged care service provider
  • disability care with a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider.

Student visa holders studying relevant medical courses are also exempt from the 40 hour per fortnight work limit if they are supporting COVID-19 health efforts at the direction of the relevant health authority.

These temporary measures will be reviewed regularly. Employers will be advised when these measures are scheduled to cease.

Working holiday maker visa holders

The Government has made temporary changes to allow temporary visa holders currently working in the agricultural sector to continue to work in Australia during COVID-19.

Working Holiday Maker (subclass 417 and 462) visa holders currently working in food processing or the agricultural sector will be eligible for a further visa and will be exempt from the six-month work limitation with one employer. Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme workers, and other visa holders currently in the agricultural sector whose visas are expiring, may have their visas extended for up to 12 months to work for approved employers.

The Government has introduced changes to Working Holiday Maker visas (subclass 417 and 462) to allow construction work, paid and volunteer disaster recovery work in a Local Government Area with a declared natural disaster to be recognised as “specified work”. Working Holiday Makers engaged in disaster recovery work are also able to work for the same employer for up to 12 months.