The new Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 is on its way with a few disturbing aspects to it. One on the major concerns is that a sponsor must have been approved before a visa such as a partner application can be lodged.

New parents visa and changes to family sponsorship

You may have heard that the Government has introduced a new parents visa category or changed some of the rules regarding family sponsorship but were confused about what that really means for you and your family, well let us break the changes down.

Two weeks ago, the Federal Government passed the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016. There are two main changes that arise from this bill firstly, the sponsorship assessment will be separated from the visa application process. This means that a partner visa sponsor will need to be assessed as a sponsor before a partner visa application can be lodged. And secondly, the Bill also introduces a new temporary parents visa.

Assessing sponsors

Essentially the aim of these amendments is to introduce the same sponsorship obligations and framework to partner visa applications that are currently used to assess temporary work sponsors. This includes:

  • separating the sponsorship assessment from the visa application process for family sponsored visas;
  • require the approval of persons as family sponsors before any relevant visa applications are made;
  • impose statutory obligations on persons who are or were approved as family sponsors;
  • provide for sanctions if such obligations are not satisfied;
  • facilitate the sharing of personal information between a range of parties associated with the program; and
  • improve the management of family violence in the delivery of the program by allowing the refusal of a sponsorship application; and cancellation and / or barring of a family sponsor where inappropriate use of the program or serious offences are detected – especially those involving family violence.

The Government argues that the main purpose of this amendment is to protect vulnerable migrants from domestic violence. To be an approved sponsor, the proposed sponsor needs to undertake a character check prior to being approved, and the results of this check are shared with the applicant. Discretionary refusal of sponsorship applications will be limited to offences for pedophilia or other sexual offences against children and offences relating to violence. Convictions for offences in these areas will not lead to automatic refusal, as the Department will need to consider a range of factors before refusing the application including: when the offence was, relevance to the family relationship and any other mitigating circumstances. All sponsorship refusals will be subject to review at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Sponsors will also need to agree to commit to undertakings of financial support and accommodation for up to two years.

Home Affairs Minister Dutton confirmed in the second reading speech, that there are plans to roll out these sponsorship requirements across all family sponsored visas across the family migration program.

New Parents Visa

The second amendment introduced by the Bill creates a new temporary parents visa. Applicants can seek a new three-year visa for $5,000 or a five-year visa for $10,000, with an option to review for another five years for the same fee. All applicants need to have private health insurance and their children need to promise to cover any additional health care costs.

Some issues with this new visa include the fact that there is no pathway for permanent residency and that there are strict guidelines for the applicant’s children to pay all public health debts including hospital and aged care fees.

The Government has announced that it will start to accept applications for this visa in the first half of 2019, we will update you as soon as a date has been announced.  Jee Eun Han