Australian Migration Law and Policy change regularly. Here are some changes to look out for in 2018.
The Department of Home Affairs
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is now called the Department of Home Affairs. The Home Affairs Portfolio, which was created on 20 December 2017, consolidates Australia’s federal law enforcement, national and transport security, criminal justice, emergency management, multicultural affairs and immigration and border-related functions and agencies.
This attempt to bring immigration and national security agencies closer together could result in greater scrutiny when applying for an Australian visa for certain applicants.
Student Visas – Funds for Living Costs to Increase
From 1 February 2018, the minimum annual amount required to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to meet living costs while studying will increase in accordance with Australia’s consumer price index (CPI).
For every application where evidence of funds is required, the minimum funds necessary will be as follows:
- Student or guardian $20,290
- Partner or spouse $7,100
- Per Child $3,040
Changes to Requirements for Australian Citizenship
Although the bill proposing changes to the citizenship requirements was struck down by the Senate in 2017, the Minister of Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, has not abandoned his efforts to toughen the requirements for Australian citizenship.
Subject to the passing of legislation, changes to the citizenship requirements will take effect on 1 July 2018 and include the following:
- Increasing the general residence requirement so that applicants for citizenship must hold a permanent residency visa for at least four years rather than the current 12 months;
- Completing an English test that will include listening, speaking, reading, and writing modules;
- Adding a reference to allegiance to Australia to the Australian values statement and a requirement that the applicant undertake to integrate and contribute to the Australian community;
- Adding new questions to the citizenship test relating to values, responsibilities, and privileges of being an Australian citizen;
- Demonstration of integration by applicant into the Australian community; and
- Adding a reference to allegiance to Australia and extending the requirement to make the pledge to all applicants over the age of 16 years and to all citizenship streams, including descent, adoption, and resumption.
TSS Visa Replaces 457 Visa
In March 2018, the 457 Visa will be replaced with the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa. The TSS visa will have two streams:
- Valid for up to two years
- Limit of one visa renewal while in Australia and no pathway to permanent residency
- The Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) will apply
- Valid for up to four years
- Possibility of permanent residency after three years
- The Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) will apply
Both streams of the TSS visa will be subject to the following eligibility criteria:
- Visa applicant is to have at least two years’ experience in their nominated occupation prior to making an application
- Visa applicant must provide mandatory police clearances certificates
- Minimum English language requirements
- Employer is to carry out mandatory labour market testing unless an international obligation applies;
- Employer is to pay the market salary rate and the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)
- Employer is to pay a contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund to meet the training requirements
- Employers will be subject to a non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure that Australian workers are not being discriminated against
Temporary Sponsored Parent Visa
The new Temporary Sponsored Parent Visa is yet to be open to applications despite earlier indications that the visa would be available from November 2017. The delay has resulted from the relevant bill not being passed by the Senate as it is still under consideration.
This visa would allow parents to stay in Australia for up to five years at a time and current information suggests that it will cost $10,000 for a five year visa and $5,000 for a three year visa.
Further updates about this visa will be provided once they become available.
Sponsorship for Partner Visas
Proposed changes to sponsorship requirements for Partner visas have been deferred as the relevant Act is yet to be passed by Senate.
Under the proposed changes, sponsorship applications would be assessed separately, and sponsors would have to apply for and be approved as sponsors before the visa applications can be lodged.
Such changes could have implications for applicants in Australia whose visas will be expiring and may increase the overall processing time for Partner visa applications.