Today the government announced a bill that will ensure future 494 and 491 visa holders will have access to various social services as if they were permanent residents.

 In an explanation of the new laws proposed to parliament the government states;

 “This Bill supports the Australian Government’s initiatives in managing Australia’s immigration program and supporting regional Australia. As part of the Population Package announced in the 2019-20 Budget, two new regional visas are being introduced to encourage new skilled migrants to settle in regional areas. The new visas will come into effect on 16 November 2019 and will require holders to live and work in a regional area for at least three years before they are eligible for a permanent visa.

 The amendments in this Bill give effect to the policy intent that holders of these provisional skilled regional visas have the same access to welfare payments and government services as permanent visa holders. This recognises that the visas provide a pathway to permanent residence.

 These arrangements also ensure that provisional skilled regional visa holders are not disadvantaged compared to holders of permanent skilled visas available for people to work in metropolitan areas.”

 The new bill ensures that holders of provisional skilled regional visas, which come into effect on 16 November 2019, to have access to welfare payments or government services as if they are holders of permanent visas.

The following legislation would be amended by the Bill:

  • A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999
  • Disability Services Act 1986
  • Fair Entitlements Guarantee Act 2012
  • Higher Education Support Act 2003
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013
  • Paid Parental Leave Act 2010
  • Social Security Act 1991.

There are numerous amendments to these Act’s which do not need to be reproduced here and they are aimed at giving the 491 and 494 visa holders equitable access as if they were permanent residents. How exactly this will work will need to be determined later in discussion with the various government departments.

Amy Kim