Big changes ahead for business, families and work visas.
Immigration numbers for the year 2020-21 plummet to -71,000, while overall planning levels remain at 160,000 places, with priority set for visas for families, businesses and employers.
The announced budget updates for visa Australia seem to indicate that the long-awaited Australia partner visa reform, with subsequent splitting into two separate applications (the first for sponsors and the second for candidates) could come soon. The reference is made to the “mandatory sponsorship request”. Although it is announced in the budget that priority will be given to family visas, the addition of English requirements for both applicants and sponsors, increased sponsorship requirements and obligations imposed on partner visas threaten to radically change the partner visa program.
Highlights of the budget – documents concerning immigration.
Partner visa changes
The Government will apply the Family Sponsorship Framework to Partner Visas, which will impose criminal background checks (Character testing) and sharing of personal information as part of a mandatory sponsorship request, and the Department will also be subject to the execution of Australian sponsor or permanent visa obligations. These changes will complement the existing provisions on family violence under the partner visa program. The Government will also introduce English language requirements for partner visa applicants and their permanent resident sponsors. These changes will help support English language acquisition and improve social cohesion and the outcomes of economic participation.
Overall levels of migration program planning
The Government will maintain the planning level of the 2020-21 Migration Program at 160,000. Family Stream seats will increase from 47,732 to 77,300 on a timely basis for the 2020-21 year of the migration program, and Sponsor, Global Talent, Business Innovation and Investment Program visas will be prioritized within the Skilled visa field.
Onshore visa applicants and partner visa applicants, if the named sponsor resides in a designated regional area, will also have priority for the 2020-21 migration program.
Visa application refund request linked to COVID-19 (Visa Application Refunds -VAC)
Prospective Marriage visa, Pacific Labor Scheme, and seasonal worker program visa holders will be able to access a VAC refund. Temporary skilled workers (TSS visa) and tourist visa holders will be entitled to visa waiver for a subsequent visa application, to allow them to return to Australia once travel restrictions are lifted. Holders of Working-holiday visa (417) will be entitled to the VAC exemption for a subsequent visa application, to allow them to return to Australia once travel restrictions have been lifted or otherwise be able to access a VAC refund.
Changes in business and investment visas
From 1 July 2021, the Government will simplify and improve the functioning of the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP). In this regard, changes will be introduced to improve the quality of investments and candidates. Visa application fees for BIIP visas will also be increased by an additional 11.3% (above the normal IPC index) starting July 2021.
Contact the Team
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Alessia Comandini, M.A.R.N. 1684766