The latest Budget contained a few surprises, but left the overall migration program largely intact. With COVID-19 continuing to affect travel, sharp skill shortages and the government’s push to create jobs for Australians, highly skilled migrants in key industries and business investors were the big winners. Among the losers were partner visa applicants and sponsors, who now have potential new English language requirements to deal with.
We’ve summarised what you need to know about the 2020-21 Budget’s impact on migration below. More detailed Newsflash updates on the Global Talent program and the uncertainty surrounding partner visas will be published soon, so stay tuned.
Linda McCreath Principal Lawyer & Managing Director Abacus Visa Immigration Lawyers MARN: 0104387
But Independent Skilled visas to be greatly reduced (to only 6,500 places)
Overall planning level to remain at 160,000 places
A massive shift towards business-focused visas show the government is keen to attract high value investors, entrepreneurs and talented professionals with international achievements (particularly in tech) who can spur innovation in Australia and aid the country’s economic recovery. There has never been a better time for those with the right qualifications to consider taking advantage of the fast-tracked permanent residency these visas offer.
At the same time, we expect the number of eligible occupations under the Temporary Skill Shortage visa (Subclass 482) to be reduced in the near future, given the focus on prioritising jobs for Australians – in particular young people who have been hit hardest by job losses due to COVID.
Partner visas increased, but tough new English requirements loom
A one-off increase for the family reunion stream (from 47,732 to 77,300 places), mostly allocated to partner visas (72,300 places)
Priority for onshore visa applicants and partner visa applicants where the sponsor lives in a designated regional area
Controversial new requirements for provisional partner visa holders to show functional English, or have completed 500 hours of an English language program, before being granted a permanent visa
English language requirements will also apply to an applicant's spouse if they are a permanent resident
Other requirements – including the need to be approved as a partner visa sponsor before lodging a partner visa application - to be implemented in the near future
While the increase in places for partner visas is a positive development, it is still only a one-off increase. This may not be enough to resolve the huge backlog of partner applications, which generally are taking over 2 years to process.
More controversial are the proposed English language requirements, which will add another significant hurdle to the already lengthy partner visa application process. Criticised for being discriminatory, particularly against non-English speaking applicants, it is also concerning that permanent resident sponsors (but not Australian citizen sponsors!) would also be subject to language testing.
However, the proposed English requirements aren’t yet set in stone. It is likely the new English requirements and separate sponsorship process will be implemented after 1 July 2021. Those thinking of applying for a partner visa should do so as soon as possible to avoid having to meet these additional visa conditions.
Permanent visas for parents further reduced
Places for permanent parent visas will be reduced, although this may be offset by an increase in temporary sponsored parent visas (TSPV, or Subclass 870).
For some, however, the TSPV visa may not be an attractive option due to its high cost and onerous requirements.
Visa holders to receive refunds due to COVID-19
Visa holders unable to travel to Australia because of COVID-19 will have access to visa application fee (VAC) refunds or waivers.
Offer of permanent residency extended to more New Zealanders
Eligibility for permanent residency for Special Category (subclass 444) visa holders will be extended to those with 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.
Not sure what the latest Budget means for you? We can help.
A professional with exceptional talent in the areas of technology, advanced manufacturing or ICT? The Gobal Talent visa program’s fast-tracked visa processing and permanent residency may interest you. We’ve already helped several clients go through the comprehensive 2-step application process with great success.
An employer looking to hire skilled overseas workers? The latest Budget favours certain visa categories over others. Our in-depth knowledge of which visas can best meet your business needs can help save you time and money.
Thinking of applying for a partner visa? We’ll explain how the proposed new English requirements might impact you. The good news is you still have some time before they come into effect. We can take you and your partner through the visa application process step by step, ensuring a stress-free pathway to getting your visa approved.
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