It puts in motion significant changes to the application process for partner visas.
Due to concerns about power imbalances between newly arrived visa applicants and their sponsors, the Bill extends the sponsorship framework that currently applies to the temporary work sponsored visa program to the family sponsored visa program. Amongst other things, it:
requires the assessment and approval of sponsors (separate to the visa application process);
requires the approval of persons as family sponsors before any relevant visa applications are made;
bars sponsors where serious offences are detected – especially those involving family violence; and
imposes statutory obligations on sponsors;
provides for civil penalties and administrative sanctions for breaches of sponsorship obligations;
facilitates the sharing of information between relevant parties.
Sponsors will be responsible for meeting the prescribed medical, hospital, aged care or other health related expenses incurred by a visa holder or a former visa holder.
While increased scrutiny of sponsors is welcome, it’s uncertain exactly how the new framework will impact applicants. For instance, since sponsors must be approved before visa applicants can proceed with their applications, difficulties might arise if the time it takes to process sponsor applications exceeds the time available to visa applicants staying in Australia on short term visitor visas.
When will the new framework come into effect?
The new sponsorship framework will commence on ‘a single day to be fixed by Proclamation’ – that is, any day from now. The latest it is expected to commence is in June 2019 ie. six months after the date of receiving royal assent.
If you are looking to lodge a partner visa onshore, you should consider doing so as soon as possible to avoid being caught by changes to eligibility requirements.
Also related: The Temporary Sponsored Parent Visa
The passing of the family violence bill also paved the way for a new Temporary Sponsored Parent Visa that will purportedly allow parents and grandparents of migrants to stay in Australia for up to 5 years at a time.
The government has said applications for this visa will open in the first half of 2019.
Note the visa is not yet in effect – further regulations will need to be made before it is.
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