A new year brings further change

Sparkles lit up and held by two hands celebrating the new year

The start of a new year can be a time of optimism, excitement and hope. It can also be a time to embrace the challenges that lie ahead. Following an unprecedented year of changes to Australia’s immigration program, the coming year will pick up where we left off in 2018. Further changes are expected, and its consequences will be felt by many people. Here’s a summary of some of the major changes to come.

Two step partner visa process

As outlined in our last blog for 2018, the partner visa application process is set to be split up into a two step process. The first step in the process would require the Australian citizen or permanent resident sponsor to lodge their sponsorship for approval. Once the sponsorship is approved, the overseas partner can proceed to the second step which is to apply for the partner visa.

This two step process is likely to delay the lodgement of the partner visa application and increase the overall processing time. While waiting for the sponsorship to be approved, the visa applicant will need to ensure they have a valid visa to remain in Australia until they are able to lodge their partner visa application. Otherwise, they would be required to go overseas to lodge their visa application.

The new temporary sponsored parent visa

This year will see the introduction of a new temporary sponsored parent visa, which will allow parents and grandparents to visit their families in Australia for a period of up to 5 years. There is likely to be a cap on the number of visas granted each year and the visa cost is expected to be up to $10,000.

Applicants will need to have an approved family sponsor in Australia who will act as a financial guarantor for any outstanding public health costs incurred by the visa holder. The Federal Government hopes that the visa will encourage families to be reunited while limiting any financial burdens on Australian taxpayers.

Department of Home Affairs and Tax Office data matching

In an effort to ensure that business sponsors comply with their sponsorship obligations and temporary skilled visa holders are complying with their visa conditions, the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Tax Office (ATO) will begin sharing and exchanging data.

The Department of Home Affairs will be providing biographical details of 457 or 482 visa holders and their business sponsors to the ATO. In turn, this information will be matched with data held by the ATO relating to income and employment for these individuals.

Increased duration for Assurance of Support

An Assurance of Support (AoS) is a legally binding commitment by an Australian resident to repay certain social security payments that have been paid to migrants holding certain visa types for a specific period of time. Depending on the visa subclass, an AoS period can be either 12 months, 2 years or 10 years.

In 2019, the AoS period for some visa subclasses will increase from 2 to 4 years. Any AoS lodged before 1 January 2019 will not be affected by the changes. The AoS period for the following visa subclasses will remain unchanged:

  • Subclass 143 (Contributory parent visa): 10 years

  • Subclass 864 (Contributory aged parent visa): 10 years

  • Subclass 202 (Global Special Humanitarian Visa - if application includes proposal by approved proposing organisation): 12 months

  • Subclass 115 & 835 (Remaining Relative): 2 years

  • Subclass 117 & 837 (Orphan Relative): 2 years

Working Holiday Visa extension

The Federal Government has expanded the Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417 and 462) programme in a bid to provide more support to farmers in regional and rural areas experiencing labour shortages. The proposed changes include:

  • Increasing the number of places available for certain countries in the Subclass 462 visa programme

  • Introducing a third year visa option for Subclass 417 and 462 visa holders who complete six months of regional work in their second year

  • Extending the period a Working Holiday Visa holder may work with the same agricultural employer from 6 month to 12 months

  • Subclass 462 visa holders will be able to undertake regional plant and animal
    cultivation work in additional priority areas to become eligible for a second visa

  • Increasing the cut-off age to 35 (inclusive years of age) for citizens of Ireland and Canada to apply for their first working holiday visa

New Designated Area Migration Agreements

The Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) is an agreement between the Federal Government and a region, state or territory to address specific economic and labour market conditions through the recruitment of overseas workers. The agreement allows employers in the designated areas experiencing skills and labour shortages to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled migrants. The agreement may be limited to certain occupations and industries, and offers a permanent residence pathway for visa holders.

The Federal Government has signed a new five-year DAMA with the Northern Territory Government which commenced on 1 January 2019 after the previous agreement lapsed on 31 December 2018. The range of occupations has been expanded to address the skills shortage experienced in the Northern Territory.

Warrnambool City Council on the south-west coast of Victoria has recently signed a DAMA with the Federal Government which comes into effect on 1 July 2019. The region’s agricultural and hospitality employers, as well as other businesses will benefit from greater access to overseas workers.

Are you affected by these changes?

If you think these changes are likely to affect you in any way and you require some assistance, please contact us at Titan Migration to arrange a consultation on 0404 010 815 or email us at info@titanmigration.com.au.