Immigration Update: Australia
4th January, 2017
As far as Australian Immigration regulations and policy is concerned, the old adage “the only constant is change” certainly applies.
On 1 January 2017, a number of changes will come into effect and the purpose of this Immigration update is to provide an overview of these changes as well as to serve as a reminder of a few important changes introduced in 2016.
Where an Australian Citizenship application is refused only because the residence requirement was not met, no application fee will be payable provided that the subsequent application is lodged within one year after the first application was lodged. The residence requirement for the grant of Australian Citizenship has not changed and remains as follows:
- have been living in Australia on a valid Australian visa for four years immediately before applying which must include the last 12 months as a permanent resident,
- not have been absent from Australia for more than one year in total, in the 4 year period, including no more than 90 days in the year immediately before applying.
Lawful residence means living in Australia on a valid Australian temporary or permanent visa.
Working Holiday Makers
The application lodgement fee payable on lodgement of a Working Holiday visa application from 1 January 2017 will be reduced by AUD $50.00 to AUD $390.00.
From 1 January 2017 the Australian Government will set the tax rate applying to working holiday makers at 19 per cent on earnings up to AUD $37,000, with ordinary marginal tax rates applying after that.
There has been numerous media reports that the age limit for working holiday makers will be increased to age 35 from the current age limit of 31. As yet there has been no official announcement to give effect to this change.
The list of eligible countries for Work and Holiday visas, subclass 462 will be expanded to include Hungary, Luxembourg and San Marino.
457 visa holders residing in South Australia
From January 2017, newly arriving 457 visa holders will be required to contribute to the cost of educating their children in government schools. This requirement will then extend to all 457 visa holders from 1 January 2018.
The amount payable would be based on family circumstances and payment would be made when a child or young person is enrolled in a government school.
The annual contribution payable by a family in South Australia on a 457 visa for 2017 would be AUD $5,100 for each primary school student and AUD $6,100 for a high school student.
This amount would be charged for the eldest child in a family, with the fees for all siblings attracting a 10% discount.
The proposed changes would allow parents to elect to pay the contribution upfront annually, per semester, per term or in regular instalments.
A contribution fee would not be charged if the total family income does not exceed AUD $57,000.
A means-test would be used, so that a family with one child at school would not pay the full contribution rate until the gross family income reaches AUD $77,000. The threshold at which maximum fees are payable is increased by AUD $10,000 for each additional child.
For the first year, the new charge will only apply to people who arrive in SA from January 1, 2017. From January 2018 it will apply to all 457 visa holders living in SA, regardless of when they arrived.
Trial 10 year Frequent Traveller Visitor visa in China
On 12 December 2016, a trial of the new 10-year ‘Frequent Traveller’ Visitor visa commenced for holders of passports from the People’s Republic of China who are applying for this visa from within China.
The visa will be valid for up to 10 years and will allow multiple short stays of up to three months for tourist or business visit purposes. The visa will complement existing visitor visas and will be suited to travellers from China who have known long term plans for frequent short-term travel to Australia.
Applicants will need to provide biometrics identifiers (fingerprints and photograph) at an Australian Visa Application Centre (AVAC) in China before lodging an application online.
The visa has been introduced as a trial and therefore numbers are limited. The visa will be available online only and has an application lodgement fee of AUD $1,000. The visa might be extended to other passport holders in the future.
Entrepreneur Visa stream
This visa stream is a new addition to the Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) category, subclass 188. It is available to applicants generally under the age of 55 with competent English and who have a funding agreement from an eligible third party for at least AUD $200,000 to undertake a complying entrepreneur activity that is proposed to lead to either the commercialisation of a product or service in Australia or the development of a business in Australia. Applicants must be nominated by a state or territory government. It should be noted that the following activities have been specifically excluded:
- Residential real estate
- Labour hire
- Purchase of an existing enterprise or a franchise in Australia
Member of Family Unit (MOFU)
The general definition of a family unit has been amended to limit secondary visa applicants for permanent visa subclasses and some provisional and temporary visa subclasses. It is now limited to direct family members under 23 years of age (and dependent children with a medically accepted disability).
The previous definition of a family unit will be preserved for:
- refugee, humanitarian and protection visas
- and to recognise the earlier MOFU status of those who apply for a visa on the grounds of having satisfied MOFU for their current visa, e.g. Provisional business skills visa holders applying for permanent residence.
Although the Australian Government’s intention by introducing the changes referred to in this newsletter is to simplify the application process in certain cases, these changes also present many challenges. One such change would be the reduction in age of dependents included in an application as a member of the family unit.
Santa Fe Immigration has a team of Registered Australian Immigration consultants that have the qualifications and experience to advice on and assist with all types of applications for temporary or permanent residence in Australia. For further information or assistance please contact:
General Manager, Immigration Services
Registered Migration Agent No. 9253612
T: + 61 2 9262 4477
National Immigration Service Delivery Manager
Registered Migration Agent No. 1066328
T: + 61 2 9262 4477
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