IMPORTANT: Changes Pending to the Partner Visa Process

baby-beautiful-beauty-377058-1024x681 IMPORTANT: Changes Pending to the Partner Visa Process

Following legislation introduced in late 2018, substantial changes pending to the Partner Visa process will result in stricter requirements and a longer pathway to be able to apply and acquire a Visa both for onshore as well as offshore applicants.

The New Changes

On 10 December 2018, the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2018 received the Royal Assent. This amends the Migration Act 1958 (the Migration Act) to introduce a sponsorship framework for the sponsored family visa program.

This change will:

  • separate sponsorship assessment from the visa application process for family
    sponsored visas;
  • require the approval of persons as family sponsors before any relevant visa
    applications are made;
  • impose statutory obligations on persons who are or were approved as family sponsors;
  • provide for sanctions if such obligations are not satisfied;
  • facilitate the sharing of personal information between a range of parties associated with the program; and
  • improve the management of family violence in the delivery of the program by
    allowing the refusal of a sponsorship application; and cancellation and / or barring of a family sponsor where inappropriate use of the program or serious offences are detected – especially those involving family violence

In practical terms, the changes under the Partner visa program will require an additional application process for the sponsoring party to be approved (“the sponsorship application”) prior to the visa applicant becoming eligible to apply for their partner visa (“the visa application”).

It is unclear the length of time that the sponsorship application will take to be processed. It is quite possible this process will exceed three months.

When These Changes Come Into Effect

The commencement day has not yet been determined. Accordingly, we do not know the date the changes come into effect.

However, under the provisions of the Act, commencement will be 10 June 2019 at the latest. Prior to the commencement, the government will need to draft regulations and policy to give practical effect to the new legislation which we understand has not yet occurred.

Until then, lodged Partner visa applications are to be assessed under the current partner visa application requirements.

You should consider that these new rules may commence at any time.

How This May Affect Your Application

It is anticipated that this new process will lengthen the overall application time for both onshore and offshore visa applications by adding the additional process of thee sponsorship application.

If you have the opportunity to apply prior to the changes, this may mean that the overall processing time of your Partner visa is reduced.

This will substantively affect you, however, in the following cases:

  • if you are currently progressing a pathway where your partner is seeking to arrive in Australia on a Visitor Visa (Subclass 600), eVisitor (Subclass 651) or Electronic Travel Authority (Subclass 601) prior to applying for a Partner visa (Subclass 820) onshore.
  • if you are progressing a pathway onshore with a substantive visa that is due to expire within the next four to six months and have not yet applied for a Partner Visa.

If the sponsorship application should turn out to be lengthy process, this may pose concerns for the period of stay for potential visa applicants under their current or proposed visa.

Notwithstanding, we note that a second Visitor Visa (Subclass 600) can generally be granted up to a cumulative period of 12 months stay in Australia.

If you are in a position to expedite your visa application, we suggest it may be in your interests to do so.

If applying offshore, these changes will result in longer waits.

How to navigate the changes

  • If you are in the process of lodging your partner visa or planning to lodge in near future, then lodge your partner visa before the changes take effect
  • If you are not sure about your plans or situation – contact us and we can provide you with clear guidance

RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES

Following new legislation introduced On 8th April 2019, the Governor-General  proclaimed that Schedule 1 of the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2018, would commence on 17 April 2019.

Once effected, Schedule 1 of this Act amends the Migration Act to insert the new subsections related to the sponsored family visas and approval of family sponsors.

While initially it was understood that these changes will cause the new partner visa regime to commence, the Department has since clarified that the 17 April 2019 changes will not apply to the Partner Visa program. Accordingly, while the Partner visa changes will commence at the latest on 10 June 2019, they are not commencing on 17 April 2019.

HOW WE CAN HELP WITH YOUR PARTNER VISA APPLICATION

As the Partner Visa program is a dynamic and fluid visa pathway it is strongly recommended that you utilise the services of a migration agent

Our Registered Migration Agents can advise you on demonstrating to the Department of Home Affairs that you meet the “genuine and ongoing” criteria of the partner visa. Our Registered Migration Agents can also help you navigate the visa changes. Please contact us today for further information and advice.

Guide to Providing An Assurance Of Support For Family Visas

For some visas, including visas for your parents, an Assurance of Support (AoS) will be required by the Department of Home Affairs

An Assurance of Support can be provided through the Department of Human Services or ‘Centrelink’ as it is commonly known. The website for Centrelink can be accessed here.

This scheme is designed to ensure that during their initial years in Australia new migrants will not become reliant on social welfare programs.

The general process is that the Sponsor Applicant will be requested to provide a AoS at towards the point where the visa will be determined.

Anyone can be an assurer as long as they are over the age of 18, an Australian resident and based in Australia.

How does an Assurance of Support operates?

The Sponsor Applicant providing the Assurance, generally needs to demonstrate that they earn enough to financially support the Visa Applicant should such support be required.

A specific formula is used by the Department to calculate the income level required by the Sponsor Applicant to provide the assurance..

The Government believes that adults require a minimum of AUD28,868.84 per annum of liquid finance in order to live in the Australian community. This equal to the ‘newstart income cut-off amount’.

Accordingly, if a person wants to sponsor their two parents, that person’s income must exceed $86,606.52 (that’s $28,868.84 multiplied by 3).

Using the same formula, a single person sponsoring one parent would need their income to exceed $57,737.68.

If the sponsoring adult has children of their own then the calculated amount goes up even more. The Department reasons that as well as providing for their parents (if required), the Sponsor Applicant must also have enough money to look after their own family.

The amount calculated for children is significanlty lower (it’s 10% of the $28,868.84 threshold).

When you apply to provide an Assurance of Support you will need to show that you have maintained this income level for two financial years.

You will receive a specific request from the Case officer when it is time to provide your AoS.

Example of an Assurance of Support

If a son who is married and has two children wishes to provide an AoS for his parents, his income must exceed $121,250 (rounded up).

Son: $28,868.84
Wife: $28,868.84
Parent 1: $28,868.84
Parent 2: $28,868.84
Child 1: $2,886.89
Child 2: $2,886.89

However, other people can also provide an AoS and incomes may be combined to reach the required threshold. Accordingly, most applicants rely on a cumulative Assurance of Support to reach the required threshold.

Use this Centrelink calculator to determine your AoS requirements.

Values of securities

Effective from 1 April 2019, there has also beeen an increase to the value of securities that are required.

For contributory parent visas, $15,000 is required for the primary applicant and $6,000 for the secondary applicant. This money is held by the Government and returned after 10 years.

For the non-contributory parent visa, $7,500 is required for the primary applicant and $3,000 for a secondary applicant. These funds are held and returned after 2 years.

Why Move To Australia?

Moving to Australia – What’s In It For You?

Australia is known worldwide as “the Lucky Country”, and it’s a top destination for permanent migrants from all over the world. Australia is a nation of opportunity, and is the perfect place to start a business, raise a family and retire.

But before you board a place and head to Australia you’ll need to navigate one of the world’s most complex and stringent immigration program’s to secure you permanent residency visa.

If you intend to settle in Australia, then applying for Australian Permanent Residency (“PR”) is the pathway you will need to take. So if you’re considering taking the leap and looking to permanently migrate to Australia, and considering a permanent residency visa, but you’re on the fence about whether you want to apply, the team at Summit Migration have put together a comprehensive list on why you should migrate to Australia. Here are our top ten reasons for applying for Australian Permanent Residency:

  1. Freedom – As a permanent resident you will hold a permanent visa, which allows you to live in Australia for the rest of your life and enjoy the freedom to to travel in and out of the country without impediment. If you obtain citizenship then you’ll also be able to travel on an Australian passport, one of the most favorable passports available.
  2. Higher Quality of Life – Australians generally enjoy a high standard of living, and although there has been an unprecedented 1.6% decrease in household incomes of average Australians, Australia is still one of the most prosperous nations. With fresh air, high employment, low mortality and plenty of fantastic place to retire, Australia is a
  3. Official Entitlements – As socialist democracy, Australia has some of the most generous social entitlement programs outside of a few Scandinavian countries. As an eligible permanent resident (after a two-year qualifying period) you will be entitled to receive support Government support for times of poor health, unemployment and study provided by Australia’s Department of Human Services (Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support). The healthcare entitlement, Medicare, is a key healthcare which provides free hospital coverage and subsidised medical treatments.
  4. Carefully regulated Immigration program – The Australian government sets immigration intake numbers on a yearly basis and the policies are racially and religiously non-discriminatory, with all applicants having to meet the same selection criteria. Currently, the Australian Government has implemented a program that seeks to provide skilled workers to occupations that are in demand.
  5. Broad Career Opportunities – Working in Australia is a key component of permanent residency. As a holder of a permanent resident visa you can find employment in any occupation of your choice in any region you like. Additionally, businesses in Australia often have skills shortages, which can’t be filled with local workers. Accordingly, highly skilled foreign workers are seen as desirable and necessary to fill such vacancies. As a result, opportunities exist in certain fields of expertise, including mining, tourism and hospitality, farming, horticulture, viticulture, service industries and health care.
  6. World Leading Education – Once you have obtained permanent resident status in Australia, you also enjoy full access to a world class variety of higher education pathways. Furthermore, there are also a range of student loans available to permanent residents only, which will offset some of the financial costs associated with study
  7. Multicultural Strength – Because of Australia’s extensive history of multicultural immigration, it has become a diverse blend of nationalities, cultures and religions. Australian food reflects this multiculturalism and is some of the best dining in the world. Australia is renown for its acceptance and tolerance for immigrants from the world over.
  8. Family Migration Pathways – Permanent residents can also sponsor family members to join them in Australia. While a successful immigration process is not a guaranteed outcome, and the applicant must meet a number of residence and support assurance criteria, once permanent residency is obtained, you will have a range of options to bring partners and parents to Australia.
  9. Immediate Family Members Included – Permanent residents who give birth in Australia provide automatically provide citizenship to their children. Additionally, once the migrant is eligible for citizenship, their partner will also be eligible too.
  10. Climate & Lifestyle – While the weather might seem a trivial reason for migrating countries, a more habitable climate makes for a more active and healthier lifestyle and improves a range of other lifestyle and quality of life markers. In addition, Australian’s have a great value on recreation and a healthy work/life balance which means that you’ll have time to enjoy the great lifestyle benefits.

These are just some of the fantastic reasons, why people consider migrating to Australia. So, if this sounds like a pathway that interests you, let us help you work towards your ultimate ambition of making Australian permanent residency a reality. Contact us for a visa assessment today. The migration agents at Summit Migration are experts in Permanent Residency applications, and we have hundreds of successes with clients who have migrated to Australia.

Complete Guide To English Language Testing For Australian Immigration

The English Language Requirements depend on your nationality and the Visa Subclass that you are applying for.

Being test on your English and determining the level of English fluency that you are required to show is a daunting prospect for many clients. Yet don’t be disheartened

There are a few different English language tests accepted by the Department of Home Affairs.

The proficiency level you need to reach will depend on the Visa Subclass you’re applying for.

Vocational English

Required scores to establish Vocational English are as follows: 

ListeningReadingWritingSpeaking
IELTS5555
TOEFL iBT441414
PTE Academic36363636
OETBBBB
Cambridge (CAE)154154154154

Competent English

For most skilled visas, you will need to show at least Competent English to meet the threshold criteria. If you hold a passport from one of the following 5 countries, you can establish competent English without completing an English test:

  1. Canada
  2. New Zealand
  3. United Kingdom
  4. United States
  5. Ireland

Otherwise, you would need to complete a recognised English language test and obtain the following score:

ListeningReadingWritingSpeaking
IELTS6666
TOEFL iBT12132118
PTE Academic50505050
OETBBBB
Cambridge (CAE)169169169169

Competent English gives you 0 points in the Skilled Migration Points Test, but is an essential requirement to be able to lodge a skilled visa.

Proficient English

If you demonstrate proficient English, this will give you 10 points for English language ability.

Even native English speakers must undertake English language testing to obtain points for proficient English or higher.

Scores required for Proficient English are: 

ListeningReadingWritingSpeaking
IELTS7777
TOEFL iBT24242723
PTE Academic65656565
OETBBBB
Cambridge (CAE)185185185185

Superior English

If you demonstrate superior English, this will give the maximum of 20 points for English language ability. Minimum scores for Superior English are: 

ListeningReadingWritingSpeaking
IELTS8888
TOEFL iBT28293026
PTE Academic79797979
OETAAAA
Cambridge (CAE)200200200200

Functional English

If your spouse or partner has less than functional English, then you would need to pay the “English Education Charge” to cover English language tuition in applying for skilled migration.

You can show you have functional English ability by providing evidence of one of the following:

  1. Completion of a degree, higher degree, diploma or trade certificate that required at least 2 years of study in English medium
  2. Completion of all years of primary education and at least 3 years of secondary education in English medium; or
  3. Completion of at least 5 years of secondary education in English medium; or
  4. Scoring at least 4.5 averaged over the four components of the IELTS test within the 12 months before application, or during processing; or
  5. Completion in Australia of at least 1 year of full-time study or equivalent part-time study towards a degree, higher degree, diploma, or associate diploma in English medium.
  6. In some circumstances, functional English can be established via interview

You can also demonstrate functional English by completing an English test and scoring as follows:

Test componentAverage across test components only
IELTS4.5
TOEFL iBT8
PTE Academic30
OETn/a
Cambridge (CAE)147

Whichever test type you take, you’ll find plenty of practice exams available. We highly recommend that you spend time properly preparing and taking practice tests. By familiarising yourself with the exam format and type of questions you’re up against, you’ll give yourself the best chance of success.

IELTS

Prepare for IELTS by taking these free practice tests. We recommend timing yourself and comparing your answers with the model answers supplied.

Find a test centre here.

TOEFL iBT

View questions from previous tests and see how the exam is structured.

Find an exam centre near you.

Cambridge Advanced English

Find out what you’re up against by taking a mock CAE test.

You’ll need to take your test at an authorised exam centre, find a location close to you.

Occupational English Test

Visit the OET preparation portal and prepare by downloading free sample materials.

The OET can be taken every month in 35 countries. Find your closest exam centre.

PTE Academic

You’ll find a preparation resources section on the PTE Academic website.

Find your closest test centre and view exam fees.

What’s Next

If you’re using a Registered Migration Agent to manage your application, they will provide you with some handy exam tips and recommend the best test option for you.

Contact an agent at Summit Migration to provide a visa assessment and discuss the migration pathways open to you.