Many people who are looking to migrate to Australia or lodge a visa application were very eager to know the latest changes announced in the 2020-21 immigration program. Due to this year being very unique because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many changes that have impacted the migration programs.
Being one of the leading immigration consultants in Sydney, we have summarized the key changes to the immigration program that was announced in the federal government 2020-21 budget.
Generally speaking, the migration program for 2020-21 will focus on Australia’s economic recovery and job creation post-COVID-19.
The migration program quota is going to remain at the same level of 160,000 for the 2020-21 year. While there are no changes to the quota, the distribution within the same level will see a change in favour for some visa applicants, while others will be taking a hit.
Family visas are among the main winners, with the family stream increasing from 47,732 places to 77,300. A priority will also be given to the following visas: Employer-Sponsored, Global Talent, Business Innovation and Investment Program visas to ensure that Australia recruits talented individuals to help with the economic recovery after the harmful implication of Covid-19.
Those applicants in regional areas will also be prioritised to encourage growth and migration to regional areas of Australia, this includes onshore visa applicants as well as partner visa applicants in regional areas.
The federal government has indicated that some visa holders will be able to access a VAC refund.
Prospective Marriage, Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme visa holders will be able to have their VAC refunded.
While temporary skilled workers, visitors or working holiday makers will be eligible to have the VAC on the subsequent visa application waived.
It is important to note that the visa refunds and waivers are only applicable to visa holders who are unable to travel because of the border closure and travel restrictions.
New Zealand citizens who intend to apply for a subclass 189 under the New Zealand stream will now have to show that their taxable income is at or above the income threshold for only three years out of the last five income years. This has been reduced from the prior minimum of four years out of the five years.
The income threshold has been $53,900 since 2014.
The government is focusing on supporting economic recovery post-COVID-19. This is why the quote for the business, investment and innovation program has been increased to 13,500 places.
The government will also be streamlining and improving the operation of the Business Innovation and Investment Program starting in July 2021.
While this is good news, the visa application charges will see an increase of 11.3% starting July 2021, which we are hoping will not have an impact on the prospective candidates.
A new Global Business and Talent Attraction Task Force will be established, aiming to attract international businesses and outstanding talents to Australia to support the post-COVID-19 economy recovery.
This will be built on the existing Global Talent Initiative and Business Innovation and Investment Program.
It is expected that the GTI program will be tripled to 15,000.
Great news for those applying for partner visas, since the government has increased the allocated quota from 47,732 to 77,300 places for family visas.
Other relevant updates include mandatory character checks that will be performed on the sponsor to reduce the risk of family violence.
A new English language requirement has also been announced for both applicants and sponsor to promote social cohesion and economic participation.
The full details of the English language requirement are not released yet, but this is what we know so far:
● It is only a requirement for the permanent subclass 801 or subclass 100 stage.
● The language requirement will NOT be in place for subclass 300 Prospective Marriage visa, Subclass 309 Partner (Provisional- offshore) visa and Subclass 820 Partner (Provisional-onshore) visa.
● Those on a provisional partner visa may have to sit the English language test.
● The difficulty of the test is not yet determined, but it will likely be a basic English test, and the applicant has to show functional English.
● The alternative to the English language test is to undertake about 500 hours of English language classes through the Adult Migration English Program (AMEP).
● Permanent resident sponsors will be required to show the same level of English language proficiency as the visa applicant.
● Australian citizen sponsors will not need to demonstrate English language proficiency.
● Exemptions may apply to couples who meet the long-term relationship definition, who are usually granted the Subclass 801 visa Partner visa (Permanent) without having to wait for the two years on the provisional visa.
● Exemptions may also apply to passport holders from the following countries: USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand and Ireland.
● The English requirement for partner visas will NOT apply to lodged applications.
● It is likely these changes will come into effect from 1 July 2021.
● This requirement will have to be met at the time of the granting of the permanent visa.
In summary the immigration changes will have a positive impact on many applicants including regional applicants, family stream visa, partner visas, employer sponsored visas, global talent visa and business innovation and investment programs. This will be unfortunately at the expense of other applicants.