In the last 30 days, online searches on Australian immigration law changes have triple as we anticipate certain changes (which some have been introduced but not implemented) to take place on 1 July 2018.
Since March 2017, the Department has been releasing news about potential law changes including proposed Australian citizenship requirement changes, employer sponsored visa changes and partner visa changes.
Some changes had already been implemented, some are yet to pass legislation, and some will be effective as of 1 July 2018.
Let’s take a look at what we know about the Australian immigration law changes so far and what change will come into effect on 1 July 2018.
1. Australian Citizenship Changes
On 18 October 2017, the Government proposed amendments to the Bill.
The proposed amendments, subject to the passage of legislation, was said to come into effect on 1 July 2018.
Some of the proposed changes to Australian citizenship include:
- Increasing general residence requirements from 1 year to 4 years permanent residency immediately before the Australian citizenship application is lodged
- Completing a separate English language test
- Strengthening the Australian citizenship test
- Strengthening the Australian values statement
To date, there have been no updates on the passage of legislation and the Department has completely removed this proposed amendment from their website. It is safe to say that current Australian citizenship eligibility criteria will remain (until further updates).
However, as you may have realised, Australian immigration law changes all the time and sometimes, with little notice. If you are eligible now, we strongly recommend lodging your application as soon as possible.
2. Australian Citizenship Fees
In early June 2018, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton removed the regulation offering disadvantaged migrants discounted citizenship fees of $20 or $40. This means disadvantaged migrants would have to pay the full citizenship application fee of $285.
This was successfully disallowed after the Senate voted to restore these concessions for disadvantaged migrants.
This means migrants will not have to pay the full fee of $285 to apply for their Australian citizenship if they are veterans, pensioners, widows or other welfare recipients.
3. Subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) and Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) / Subclass 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visas
Immigration law changes to subclass 482, subclass 186 and subclass 187 visas were implemented in March 2018.
Some of the employer sponsored visa changes include:
- The introduction of the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL), Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) or Regional Occupation List (ROL)
- At least 2 years’ work experience is required to be eligible for the 482 visa
- Occupations on the STSOL are eligible for Short-term stream
- Occupations on the MLTSSL and ROL are eligible for Medium-term stream
- Applicants must have 3 years’ work experience to be eligible for subclass 186 and subclass 187 visa Direct Entry
- Age requirement: Under 45 years old for 186 visa and 187 visa, unless transitional arrangements apply
- 208 occupations are made available for 186 visa and occupations must be on MLTSSL unless transitional arrangements apply
- Work related caveats have been removed for ENS visa occupations on MLTSSL
- 673 occupations are made available for 187 visa and occupations must be on the MLTSSL or ROL, unless transitional arrangements apply.
4. ImmiAccount Updates
Further to these changes, the Department closes ImmiAccount on 30 June each year to allow system updates and any legislative updates/changes required to be implemented on 1 July 2018.
This year it is advised that if you are looking to lodge your Australian visa application in the next few days, you MUST lodge by Friday 29 June 2018 to avoid any disruption.
Lodge your application as soon as possible if you are ready, we can assure you that EVERYONE will be on ImmiAccount and the system is likely to crash.
5. Changes to Bridging Visa E (BVE) Application
From 1 July 2018, applicants will be able to lodge their BVE application online. Currently, BVE applications can be lodged via email, post or in person.
6. Changes to Resident Return Visas
From 1 July 2018, holders of a subclass 444 visa, Transitional Permanent Visa and subclass 200 Refugee visa holder will be able to lodge the Resident Return visa online.
7. Family Migration
a. Partner visa and Prospective Marriage visa
Onshore and Offshore Partner visa applications (Subclass 820/801 and Subclass 309/100) and Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300) must be lodged online through ImmiAccount.
Payments for your application must also be made online via your ImmiAccount account.
Paper applications will no longer be accepted.
b. Parent Visas
If you are lodging one of these Parent visa subclasses, please note that you will no longer be able to lodge this in person.
c. Other Family Visas
Online lodgement for these Australian visa subclasses is not available.
Online payment is available and can be made through ImmiAccount.
NOTE: You will no longer be able to lodge Other Family Visas at one of the Department of Home Affairs offices or contracted Service Delivery Partners overseas. All applications that have not been finalised at these facilities are being transferred to Perth Visa and Citizenship Office. The department will notify you if further documents are required.
All changes for Family Migration effects for both onshore and offshore applications.
8. General Skilled Migration Program
From 1 July 2018, if you are looking to apply for the general skilled migration subclass 189, subclass 190 and subclass 489 visa, you can claim 5 addition points from having a skilled partner ONLY IF your partner is under the age of 45. This was amended from under 50 years old.
This amendment can view at Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (2018 Measures No. 1) Regulations 2018.
Further immigration law updates also include an increase to the points test pass mark for general skilled migration (subclass 189, subclass 190 and subclass 489 visa) to 65 points instead of 60 points. This will affect all applications lodged on or after 1 July 2018 in response to the invitation issued on or after 1 July 2018. This legislation was published on 25 June 2018.
9. Work and Holiday Visa Applications
From 1 July 2018, it is mandatory for the following applications to be lodged online through ImmiAccount:
- Subclass 417 Woking Holiday visa applications
- Subclass 462 Work and Holiday visa applications from Argentina, Slovakia, Spain, The United States and Uruguay
- Second Work and Holiday subclass 482 visa applications
Israeli passport holders: If you are lodging your first subclass 482 Work and Holiday visa your application MUST be sent to Berlin for processing.
10. Credit Card Surcharge for Australian Visa Applications
From 1 July 2018, credit card surcharges will increase from 0.98% to 1.32%. The increase in percentage surcharge is to allow the Department to “recover greater proportion of the cost of merchant fees”.
This amendment can be viewed at Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (2018 Measures No. 1) Regulations 2018.
How Can We Help
If the above changes affect you and you require further legal advice and assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.
You can book a consultation with our Immigration Lawyers and Migration Agents at Agape Henry Crux (previously known as Crux Migration). We will assess your eligibility and tailor your migration pathway in accordance with your circumstances.