Australian Budget 2020 – 21: Immigration Analysis

The Australian Federal Government presented the 2020 – 21 budget on Tuesday 6th October 2020. The Federal Government had been warning for months that this year’s budget would be the most consequential since World War 2.  With an apparent departure from the traditional migration composition, the Government has placed a greater emphasis on family stream visas. We are currently still reviewing the full impact on immigration from Tuesday’s announcement. 

Top Ten Major Immigration Updates from Australian 2020 -21 Budget

  1. As we predicted, the Morrison Government has stated it will maintain the planned ceiling for the 2020 – 21 Migration Program at 160,000 places.
  2. The Government has placed greater emphasis on family stream visas by increasing the planning level from 47,732 to 77,300 an increase of 30,000. This increase is a “one-off basis” for this program year. We suspect this is to clear the backlog applications awaiting a decision.
  3. English language requirement for Australian partner visa applicants. The controversial immigration requirement, if approved by parliament, would apply from mid-2021. If you have a first stage partner visa, you need to pass a basic English test to apply for your second stage permanent visa.
  4. Applicants will be provided with up to 500 hours of free English Language tuition, and the test appears to be low level and nothing like the requirements for skilled and employer-sponsored visas.
  5. Sponsors who are permanent residents also have to demonstrate English language proficiency to the same level as visa applicants when sponsoring for permanent residency.
  6. Exemptions will be available for those who hold a Canadian, Irish, New Zealand, UK or USA passport or to those who can demonstrate education in English.
  7. As the international borders remain closed, onshore applications will receive priority.
  8. Prospective marriage visa (PMV) holders will be able to access a VAC refund if they cannot enter Australia before the entry date on their visa grant notice. (This is in line with information that the Department is not extending the entry date for PMV holders who remain offshore.)
  9. Regional Australia will continue to have priority processing which will now include partner visa applications.
  10. Subclasses 300, 309 or 820 applications will have no English language requirement.  So the new conditions will not delay first-stage processing and couples being united.

Why Australia partner visas: Immigration law ‘to require English test.’

“About one million people are living in Australia with poor or no English skills, which limited their work and social skills. The new changes would also help protect vulnerable immigrants from controlling partners. In some cases, the husband will not want his partner or wife to learn English. And in part that’s for control reasons,” said Alan Tudge, the minister for immigration.

He said “reasonable efforts to learn” would constitute an applicant taking about 500 hours of English classes which would be available under a free government programme.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said partners could still arrive on a temporary visa but, once in the country, they should learn “Australia’s first language” to remain permanently.

Jessica Edis Principal Lawyer from Putt Legal, said “The media is making these changes sound a lot more complicated and onerous on applicants and sponsors than it is. Once the complete detail of the program is released, I may change my thoughts, but for now, my initial advice is not to panic. If you are being advised by your friends, family or an agent to apply quickly in order to avoid potential changes in future, then perhaps this is for their reasons and not in your best interests.  As always, if you are unsure, please contact us, and we will happily answer any questions.

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