How to Submit the Best Partnership Visa Application

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Each year thousands of couples commit to a shared life in Australia and apply for a Partner Visa. This can be a stressful, not to mention time consuming process! Ideally you should allow at least 6 to 8 weeks to prepare your Partnership Visa application. This will help you ensure that you provide sufficient evidence and complete the forms properly. Today we lift the lid on some Migration Agent trade secrets that will save you time and stress:

Step 1: Determine if you’re eligible for a Partner Visa

To be eligible for a Partnership Visa you must either be married or in a de facto relationship with an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen. If applying for a Partner Visa from outside of Australia it’s also possible to apply on the basis of an intended marriage, however the temporary Partnership Visa cannot be granted until the marriage has taken place. 

Marriage

If applying on the basis of marriage, then your marriage must be valid under Australian Marriage Law, which applies to most marriages solemnized in Australia. International marriages are generally accepted if the marriage was legal in the country it was solemnised, however there are exceptions (eg: underage or polygamous marriages may be accepted overseas, but not Australia). If in doubt speak to a Migration Agent and confirm that your marriage is valid.

Same Sex Marriage

The good news is that same sex marriages are now legal in Australia, meaning that same sex couples can now apply for a Partner Visa on spousal grounds.

De Facto Partnership

If applying the basis of a de facto partnership you must have lived with your partner for at least 12 months, or register your relationship under state law. Currently only relationships registered in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and ACT meet the de facto requirement.

Step 2: Get your dates right

When assessing your Partnership Visa application the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) need to know the following dates:

Date you met each other: The date that you physically met in person for the first time.

Date you committed to a relationship at the exclusion of all others: The date you committed to an exclusive relationship. You may have dated each other before this date but had not 100% committed to the relationship yet.

Date you started living together: This might be the date you signed a joint lease agreement or purchased a joint residential property together.

Step 3: Gather your supporting documents

Once you have determined that you meet the marriage or de facto partnership requirement, you need to gather your supporting documents. Identity documents must either be certified or a high-resolution colour scan. You and your sponsor must provide copies of your passport and full birth certificate or family book. You must also provide a copy of your marriage or relationship certificate.

Your relationship will be assessed off the 4 key criteria below. You will each need to write a statutory declaration that covers the 4 key criteria and explains the history of your relationship. Here’s some examples of evidence you can provide to back up your claims:  

Financial Aspects of the Relationship

  • Joint bank statements: Ideally from throughout your relationship. If you don’t have a joint bank account, set one up as soon as possible.

  • Evidence of money transfers: Receipts from companies like Western Union or Moneygram.

  • Joint liabilities: Shared loans or joint insurance documents.

  • Joint ownership: Joint property or a car ownership documents, or other assets such as shares.

Nature of the Household

  • Cohabitation: Joint tenancy agreement or joint property ownership documents.

  • Joint responsibility for children: The child’s birth certificate showing both of your names or custody documents.

  • Joint utilities accounts: Electricity, gas, water, phone or internet bills in both of your names.

  • Housework: Your statutory declaration you will need to address how you distribute the responsibility of housework.

  • Correspondence: Letters addressed to either or both of you at the same address.

Social Aspects of the Relationship

  • 888 forms: You must include a minimum of 2 x 888 forms from friends or family that are either Australian citizens, permanent residents or eligible New Zealand citizens.

  • Statements from family and friends overseas: Friends and family outside of Australia can either write a statement or foreign statutory declaration.

  • Joint travel: Evidence that you have travelled together or plan to travel in the future.

  • Joint memberships or hobbies: Evidence that you share similar interests such as music, sport, religion or other cultural activities.

  • Social media: Make sure the you present yourself as a couple on social media.

  • Photos: 20 to 30 photos that tell the story of your relationship.

  • Invitations: Joint invitations you have received to social events.

Nature of the Commitment

  • Emotional Support: In your statutory declaration you will need to address how you emotionally support each other.

  • Correspondence during periods of separation: If you were physically apart during any stage of your relationship, you must include evidence that shows that you were in contact with each other.

  • Last will and testament: Provide a scan of your will that shows your partner is a beneficiary.

  • Superannuation beneficiary: Nominate your partner as the beneficiary of your superannuation.

  • Intention to stay in a long-term relationship: This can include a notice of intention to get married, purchase of an engagement ring or evidence that show’s you’re pregnant with your partner.

If your documents are not in English, you will need to obtain official translations of them. Translators in Australia must use a NAATI accredited. Translators outside of Australia must endorse the translation with their full name, address, telephone number, and details of their qualifications and experience in the language being translated.

Step 4: Lodge your Partnership Visa application

Partnership Visa applications must be made online, here’s the process:

  1. Create an ImmiAccount.

  2. Login to your ImmiAccount and complete the Partner Visa application form.

  3. Make payment of the Visa Application by credit card, Paypal or BPAY.

  4. You will know your application has been when you receive an acknowledgement e-mail from DOHA.

  5. Login to your ImmiAccount and complete the sponsorship application form.

  6. Upload all of your documents. Preferably your documents will be in PDF format and each document must be under 5mb. IMPORTANT: Make sure you upload the correct document, you cannot remove a documents once uploaded.

  7. If you realise you have answered any of the questions incorrectly make sure you complete a notification of incorrect answers form. Also, if your circumstances change (eg: change of address, e-mail or phone number) this must also be updated.

Step 5: Ensure that you complete your police and health checks in time

As the applicant for a Partnership Visa you must provide national police clearances for each country you have lived in for more than 12 months in the past 10 years. Ideally police certificates should be provided at the time of application. However, police certificates are only valid for 12 months, and given that the Partner Visa processing time can be more than 12 months it can be costly to have to apply for police certificates more than once. It’s important to ensure that you provide your police certificates no later than 9 to 12 months after your lodge you Partnership Visa application. Sponsors are also likely be asked by the DOHA to provide police certificates, so it’s good to be proactive and provide these up front.

As the applicant for a Partner Visa you must also complete a medical assessment, chest x-ray and HIV test. Again, this is a costly process and is only valid for 12 months. It’s best to complete this 9 to 12 months after you lodge your application.

For more information on how to obtain police certificates and arrange your medical assessment, please visit the relevant country profile on the DOHA website.

Step 6: Respond to any DOHA additional information requests

Once your Partnership Visa application has been assigned to a case officer they may ask for more information. If this occurs, you will receive this notice by e-mail and you will have 28 days to respond. Failure to respond within the deadline could lead to your Partnership Visa application being refused.

Are you currently preparing your Partner Visa application?

If you need help contact us today!

We offer various levels of service ranging from advice only, to document checking, to the full Partnership Visa application. Whether you’re trying to save money and looking for a DIY service, or you want everything taken care of, we have the solution for you!

How Does The Same Sex Marriage Yes Vote Affect Australian Immigration?

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An overwhelming majority of Australians have voted yes for same sex marriage. Even though this is yet to pass through parliament into law, there is a very good chance that same sex couples will be able to get married by the end of 2017. So how does this affect Australian immigration?

Partnership Visa

Migrants in a same sex relationship are currently eligible to apply for a Partnership Visa on the basis of a de facto relationship with an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen. However, to be deemed to be in a de facto relationship the couple either must have lived together for a minimum of 12 months, or register their relationship under state law, which isn’t possible in all states. The proposed change in marriage law will enable same sex migrants to apply for a Partnership Visa on spousal grounds.  

Prospective Marriage Visa

Perhaps the most positive outcome of the same sex marriage yes vote is that migrants in same sex relationships should soon be eligible for a Prospective Marriage Visa. The Prospective Marriage Visa (or Fiancé Visa as it’s sometimes known as) is for couples that have met in person at least once and have committed to getting married within 9 months of the visa being granted. Once married, the couple is then able to apply for a Partner Visa. This option isn’t currently available to same sex migrants.

New Zealand Family Relationship Visa

The New Zealand Family Relationship Visa is a 5 year temporary visa that is available to members of the family unit of New Zealand citizens holding a temporary visa, this includes spouses and de facto partners. If the same sex marriage yes vote passes into law then same sex migrants will be able to apply for the New Zealand Family Relationship Visa on spousal grounds. 

Secondary Applicants

The proposed changes in marriage law will allow same sex migrants to apply for any visa that allows a secondary applicant on spousal grounds, this includes Skilled Visas, 457 Visas and many more. Currently same sex migrants only have the option to apply as a secondary applicant on de facto grounds, which isn’t always possible.

The proposed change in marriage law are a big thumbs up to equality not just for Australians, but also same sex migrants who will have more options to migrate to Australia.

If you would like to arrange a free consultation with a Migration Agent in Melbourne to discuss your situation please complete an online assessment or call us on 0449944991.

A Must Read For New Zealanders Who Have Migrated to Australia

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As much as we love to play up the Australia and New Zealand rivalry, the truth is New Zealand is our closest friend and ally. We share a similar culture and values, which is why New Zealanders are so easily able to integrate into Australian society. Once upon a time New Zealand citizens could travel to Australia and automatically have the rights of a permanent resident, however this changed in 2001. Whilst New Zealand citizens can still travel to Australia and stay for as long as they want, they are still in effect temporary residents. This means they can be removed or deported from Australia at any time, and they also do not have the same rights as an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident.

What is an Eligible New Zealand Citizen?

Under the Migration Regulations 1994 an eligible New Zealand citizen is a person who arrived in Australia on a New Zealand passport and was:

  • in Australia on the 26th of February 2001, or
  • in Australia for 12 months in the 2 years immediately before the 26th of February 2001, and returned to Australia after that day, and
  • assessed as an eligible New Zealand citizen before the 26th February 2004.

What is the Advantage of Being an Eligible New Zealand Citizen?

An eligible New Zealand citizen can sponsor their partner for a partnership visa, or family members who migrate to Australia, in the same way that an Australian citizen or permanent resident can. An eligible New Zealand citizen can apply for Australian citizenship without first being a permanent resident, because by being an eligible New Zealand citizen, they are automatically classed as permanent residents.

An eligible New Zealand citizen is also defined as a protected SCV (Special Category Visa) holder under the Social Security Act 1991.

Protected SCV holders are eligible for government benefits such as:

  • Family tax benefit
  • Newborn upfront payment and newborn supplement
  • Single income family supplement
  • Child care benefit
  • Double orphan pension
  • Heath care card
  • Low income health care card
  • Foster child health care card
  • Commonwealth seniors heath card
  • Parental leave pay
  • Dad and partner pay
  • Assistance for isolated children

Subclass 444 – Special Category Visa

New Zealand citizens that first entered Australia after the 26th of February 2001 are automatically granted a Subclass 444 Special Category Visa. Whilst this doesn’t provide the holder with the same rights as an ‘eligible New Zealand citizen’, it still allows the holder to live and work in Australia for as long as they wish to.

Subclass 444 Special Category Visa holder may also be eligible for the following benefits if they have lived in Australia continuously for at least 10 years:

  • Newstart Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Youth Allowance

Subclass 461 – New Zealand Family Relationship Visa

Family members of New Zealand citizens may be eligible for a Subclass 461 New Zealand Family Relationship Visa. This is a temporary visa which allows the holder to live and work in Australia for up to 5 years.

To be eligible an applicant must:

  • be a ‘member of the family unit’ (Spouse, de facto partner, child or step child) of the New Zealand citizen
  • the New Zealand citizen family member must hold a Subclass 444 visa, or be eligible for a Subclass 444 visa upon arrival to Australia
  • the New Zealand citizen family member must not be an ‘eligible New Zealand citizen’ as defined above
  • meet the relevant health requirements
  • meet the relevant character requirements

For persons who currently hold or have previously held a Subclass 461 Visa, in some cases it’s possible to apply for another Subclass 461 Visa, even if the relationship with the New Zealand family member has broken down.

Subclass 189 – Skilled Independent Visa (New Zealand Stream)

The Australian Government recently introduced a new path to permanent residency specially for New Zealand citizens. The Subclass 189 Skilled Independent Visa (New Zealand Stream) is a permanent visa which allows the holder to live and work in Australia permanently.

To be eligible an applicant must:

  • hold a Subclass 444 Visa
  • have been usually resident in Australia continuously for 5 years
  • have started residency in Australia on or before 19 February 2016
  • have a taxable income at or above an income threshold (currently $53,900 per annum) for each of the four income years prior to lodgement 

A member of the family unit may also apply for the Subclass 189 Visa as a secondary applicant.  

Australian Citizenship

The Subclass 189 Visa is a good option because it now provides certain New Zealand citizens with an easier path to Australia citizenship.

To be eligible an applicant must:

  • be a permanent resident at the time of application and at the time of decision
  • have lived in Australia on a valid visa for four years before making the application
  • have been a permanent resident for 12 months immediately before making the application
  • not have been absent from Australia for more than 12 months during the 4 year period before application
  • not have been absent from Australia for more than 90 days during the 12 month period before application
  • have a basic knowledge of the English language
  • meet the relevant character requirements
  • intend to reside or maintain a close and continuing association with Australia
  • have adequate knowledge or responsibilities and privileges of Australia citizenship

Children under 16 years under the care of the applicant may also be included in the citizenship application if they are permanent residents. Children under 16 do not need to meet the residence requirements.

Are you a New Zealand citizen interested in becoming an Australian permanent resident?

Are you an Australian permanent resident interested in becoming an Australian citizen?

Are you a New Zealand Special Category Visa holder interested in bringing your partner or child to Australia?

Are you looking for a Migration Agent in Melbourne?

I'm Happy in Australia But Miss My Parents, Can They Join Me?

Each year thousands of people make the agonising decision to say goodbye to their parents and migrate to Australia indefinitely. But this doesn’t have to be the case, as there are number of options that allow parents to visit their children in Australia, or migrate to Australia permanently. Today we’re looking at these options in more detail, and also discussing some new options that will soon be available.

Subclass 601 - Electronic Travel Authority (ETA)

An ETA is a great way for parents from ETA eligible countries to travel to Australia and visit their family. It’s a temporary visa that is valid for up 12 months from the date of grant, and allows the holder to remain in Australia for up to 3 months after each entry. Whilst in Australia the visa holder is unable to work.

  • Time of application: Must be outside of Australia
  • Time of grant: Must be outside of Australia
  • Visa application charge: Free
  • Current processing time: 1 day

Current ETA eligible countries:   

  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Vatican City

Subclass 600 – Visitor Visa

A Visitor visa is an inexpensive way for parents from non-ETA eligible countries to visit their family in Australia. There are currently 5 streams: Tourist, Business Visitor, Sponsored Family, Approved Destination Status and Frequent Traveller. Like the ETA it’s a temporary visa that is valid for up 12 months from the date of grant, and allows the holder to remain in Australia for up to 3 months after each entry. Whilst in Australia the visa holder is unable to work.

  • Time of application: Tourist Stream can be inside or outside of Australia, all other streams must be outside of Australia
  • Time of grant: If applicant inside of Australia at time of application must be in Australia, if applicant outside of Australia at time of application must be outside of Australia
  • Visa application charge: $140 for applicants outside of Australia, and $345 for applicants inside of Australia
  • Current processing time: Between 4 days and 67 days (depending on the stream)

Subclass 600 – Visitor Visa: Frequent Traveller Stream

The Australian Government is currently trialling a frequent traveller visitor visa which can be granted for up to 10 years, and allows the holder to remain in Australia for up to 3 months after each entry. Currently only Chinese passport holders are eligible for this visa, and the number of visas being granted is limited. However, the frequent traveller stream may be extended in the future to include passport holders from other countries. Whilst in Australia the visa holder is unable to work.

  • Time of application: Must be outside of Australia
  • Time of grant: Must be outside of Australia
  • Visa application charge: $1020
  • Current processing time: Approximately 12 days

Parent Visa and Contributory Parent Visa

A Parent visa or Contributory Parent visa allows a settled Australia citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen to sponsor their parents. Children under the age of 18 can sponsor their parents through a relative, guardian or a community organisation. 

The dilemma with Parent visas is whether you pay the high application charges (currently a minimum of $47300) for the Contributory Parent visa and have PR within 3 years; or do you wait 30 years for a standard Parent visa to be processed and live on a Bridging visa in the meantime.  

All Parent visas and Contributory Parent visas require the applicant to pass a balance of family test, which means that an equal or greater number of their children are Australian, in comparison to their non-Australian children.

A mandatory assurance of support (AoS) is required for all permanent Parent visas and Contributory Parent visas. This is a financial bond which is paid by an assurer to provide financial support to the migrating parent. This means that they don’t have to rely on social welfare payments, which are normally at the cost of the Australian community. The assurer does not necessarily have to be the sponsor of the parent.

AoS Bond Amounts

  • For permanent Parent visas and Aged Parent visas the AoS bond is currently $5000 for the main applicant and $2000 for any adult secondary applicants. The bond is held for 2 years.
  • For permanent Contributory Parent visas and Aged Contributory Parent visas the AoS bond is currently $10000 for the main applicant and $4000 for any adult secondary applicant. The bond is held for 10 years.  
  • Note: If the assurer is an organisation a bond of $10000 is required for each applicant.

Subclass 103 – Parent Visa (Permanent)

  • Time of application: Must be in Australia
  • Time of grant: Must be outside of Australia
  • Visa application charge: $3945
  • Second instalment: $2065 (due at the time of grant)
  • Current processing time: Up to 30 years

Subclass 804 – Aged Parent Visa (Permanent)

An aged parent must be old enough to receive an aged pension in Australia, this is currently 65 years and 6 months old.  

  • Time of application: Must be in Australia
  • Time of grant: Must be in Australia
  • Visa application charge: $3945
  • Second instalment: $2065 (due at the time of grant)
  • Current processing time: Up to 30 years

Subclass 173 – Contributory Parent (Temporary)

This is a temporary visa allowing the holder to stay in Australia for up to 2 years.

  • Time of application: Can be inside or outside Australia
  • Time of grant: Must be in Australia
  • Visa application charge: $2540
  • Second instalment: $29130 (due at the time of grant)
  • Current processing time: Not currently known due to the low volume of applications

Subclass 143 – Contributory Parent (Permanent)

  • Time of application: If holding a subclass 173 visa must be in Australia, otherwise can be inside or outside of Australia
  • Time of grant: If holding a subclass 173 visa can be inside or outside of Australia, otherwise must be outside of Australia
  • Visa application charge: If holding a subclass 173 visa $330, otherwise $3770
  • Second instalment: If holding a subclass 173 visa $19240, otherwise $43600 (due at the time of grant)
  • Current processing time: 75% of applications processed within 33 months, 90% processed within 35 months

Subclass 884 – Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary)

An aged parent must be old enough to receive an aged pension in Australia, this is currently 65 years and 6 months old. This is a temporary visa allowing the holder to stay in Australia for up to 2 years.

  • Time of application: Must be in Australia
  • Time of grant: Must be in Australia
  • Visa application charge: $3770
  • Second instalment: $29130 (due at the time of grant)
  • Current processing time: Not currently known due to the low volume of applications

Subclass 864 – Contributory Aged Parent

An aged parent must be old enough to receive an aged pension in Australia, this is currently 65 years and 6 months old.  

  • Time of application: Must be in Australia
  • Time of grant: Must be in Australia
  • Visa application charge: If holding a subclass 173 visa $330, otherwise $3770
  • Second instalment: If holding a subclass 173 visa $19240, otherwise $43600 (due at the time of grant)
  • Current processing time: Not currently known due to the low volume of applications

Bridging Visa for Parents

Any applicant that holds a substantive visa and applies for another visa onshore is automatically granted a Bridging visa A, which allows them to remain in Australia while their visa application is being processed. Applicants for the Aged Parent (subclass 804), Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary – Subclass 884) and Contributory Aged Parent (subclass 864) aren’t subject to any visa conditions, which means they are able to work full time in Australia. A holder of a Bridging visa A must pay an additional $145 for a Bridging visa B to allow them to travel overseas, otherwise they won’t be able to re-enter Australia.   

Introduction of the Temporary Sponsored Parent Visa

On the 5th of May 2017 the Assistant Minister for Immigration announced that a new temporary sponsored Parent visa will be introduced. The original introduction date was the 1st of July 2017, however the bill is still before the senate and if it passes it should be introduced in late 2017.

The new visa will be available to parents or step parents of Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens. Only one set of parents per household will be able to be sponsored at a time. A step parent will only be able to apply if they’re in a spousal or de facto relationship with a biological parent of the sponsoring Australian child. It will be a two stage application process where the sponsor first needs to be approved before the visa application can be made.

Visa Application Charges:

  • $10000 for a 5 year visa
  • $5000 for a 3 year visa

The visa holder will be required to hold approved health insurance for the duration of their stay. The visa holder cannot work on this visa. The balance of family test will not apply. This new visa will not replace the existing parent visas.

Stay tuned for updates.

 

Are you missing your parents? 

Would you like them to join you in Australia?

Essential Read for Anyone Considering a Partnership Visa

Australians love to travel overseas, likewise Australia is a popular travel destination for international travellers, so it makes sense that many relationships develop between Australians and foreign nationals. This helps to contribute to Australia’s multiculturalism, which is one of the many reasons why Australia is such a great place to live.

Each year the Partnership Visa Program presents many opportunities to migrants with Australian partners. However, the Partnership Visa application process presents unexpected challenges and often professional assistance is required. There are many cases where Partnership Visa applications have been refused by the Department of Immigration, when the applicant could’ve been eligible for the visa. This is usually because the applicant has missed some vital steps and/or hasn’t provided sufficient evidence of their relationship.

Partnership Visa Options

Eligible applicants have the opportunity to apply for a Partnership Visa from outside of Australia or within Australia. Either way a 2 year temporary visa is first granted (offshore subclass 309/onshore subclass 820), then if the relationship is still ongoing after 2 years permanent residency is granted (offshore subclass 100/onshore subclass 801). Whilst waiting for the temporary visa to be granted onshore applicants are granted with a Bridging visa A, which allows them to work full time and have access to Medicare. It’s not possible to travel overseas on a Bridging visa A, but if required to travel the applicant can apply for a Bridging visa B, which is relatively inexpensive.

Current Department of Immigration visa processing times:

  • Offshore (temporary) subclass 309: 75% of applications processed within 11 months
  • Onshore (temporary) subclass 820: 75% of applications processed within 17 months
  • Offshore (permanent) subclass 100: 75% of applications processed within 15 months
  • Onshore (permanent) subclass 801: 75% of applications processed within 16 months

Partnership Visa Requirements

To be eligible for a Partnership visa the applicant must be the spouse or de facto partner of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen. If applying on spousal grounds the marriage must be accepted under Australian law. If applying on de facto grounds the couple must have lived together for at least 12 months, unless the relationship is registered under state law.

Whether applying on spousal or de facto grounds, the couple must:

  • have a mutual commitment to a shared life at the exclusion of all others;
  • be in a genuine and continuing relationship;
  • live together or not live apart on a permanent basis.

When assessing the relationship, the Department of Immigration want to see evidence that shows:

  • the financial aspects of the relationship;
  • the nature of the couple’s household;
  • the social aspects of the relationship;
  • the nature of the couple’s commitment to each other.

It’s extremely important that sufficient evidence is provided for all four aspects of the relationship, otherwise the relationship may not be deemed genuine.  

Prospective Marriage Visa

The Prospective Marriage visa is a good option for couples that don’t meet the spousal requirement or de facto requirement for a Partnership Visa. It’s an offshore temporary visa which allows the holder to travel to Australia and remain for 9 months, during which time they must marry their partner. To be eligible the applicant’s prospective spouse must be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen. Both parties of the couple must have met each other in person at least once since they each turned 18. Once the couple are married, the Prospective Marriage visa holder is eligible to apply for an onshore Partner visa with reduced application fees.  

All in all, a Partnership visa is a good option if you’re in a genuine relationship and have plenty of evidence to prove it. Unlike other subclasses of visas there is a lot discretion with Partnership visas as the evidence isn’t as black and white. Preparation of a Partnership visa application takes a lot longer than most people expect, so if you’re time poor and/or you would like to avoid stress it’s best to engage the services of a Registered Migration Agent.

 

Are you considering a Partnership Visa?

How to apply for a Partner Visa?

Do you have the time and patience to do it yourself?

Why not do a free visa assessment today?

Good News for Young Working Holiday Makers

In the past 12 months The Australian Government has made a number of positive changes that affect young working holiday makers visiting Australia. The changes affect both the Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417) and the Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462), and will allow more working holiday makers to enjoy the vast range of opportunities that Australia has to offer.

Lets firstly review the countries of which citizens are eligible for these visas:

Subclass 417:

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom

Subclass 462

  • Argentina
  • Bangladesh
  • Chile
  • China, People’s Republic of
  • Hungary
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Poland
  • Portuga
  • lSan Marino
  • lovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • United States of America
  • Uruguay
  • Vietnam

Tax Rates

One of the most notable changes is that Working holiday makers only pay 15% tax of income up to $37,000.  This is considerably less than the previous tax rate of 32.5%. Anything earned over $37,000 will be taxed at the standard individual tax rates.

Age Increase

On the 1st of July 2017 the Migration Regulations were updated, and the age ranges for subclass 417 and 462 were increased from 18 - 30 years to 18 - 35 years old for passport holders from specified countries. However at this point in time, the Government hasn’t specified any countries that are subject to the age increase so the age limit remains 18 - 30 for all countries. The legislative framework is in place for the age limit to increase for some countries, so stay tuned for updates.                                                                             

Employment Condition Update

Previously working holiday makers weren’t able to work for the same employer for more than 6 months. However, this has now changed and working holiday makers are able to work for the same employer for 12 months as long as the second 6 months is worked at a different premises, in a different region. For example: Different hotels, resorts or restaurants that are part of the same chain.

In special circumstances it’s also possible to extend employment beyond 6 months and remain with the same employer in the same location. For example: Au pairs are sometimes able to extend their stay with a family beyond 6 months if a letter of support is provided by the family. This also applies to working holiday makers in certain areas of Northern Australia, as well as some aged care and disability workers. In all other situations extensions will only be approved if there are exceptional circumstances that affect an Australian.    

Potential Countries to be added to the Work and Holiday Program

In the past 12 months there have been a number of additional countries added to the Work and Holiday Program including China, Hungary, Israel, Luxembourg, San Marino, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Vietnam. Work and Holiday visas are capped per country per year, with the exception of the USA, which has no cap.

Australia is currently negotiating new Work and Holiday arrangements with the following countries:

  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Brazil
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Fiji
  • Greece
  • India
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Mongolia
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • Switzerland

Cap Increase for Chilean and Argentinian Nationals

As of the 1st of July 2017 the number of Work and Holiday Visa places for Australian, Chilean and Argentinian nationals under 31 years of age has increased. There will now be 2000 reciprocal Visa places annually for Australian and Chilean nationals, and 1500 visa places annually for Australian and Argentinian nationals.

 

Are you thinking about visiting Australia for a working holiday?

Are you a working holiday maker and have an Australian employer that’s interested in sponsoring you?

Have you met the love of your life and desperate to stay in Australia?

Are you looking for a Migration Agent in Melbourne?

Find out if you’re eligible for a Skilled Visa or a Partnership Visa:

Summary of the Latest Changes to the Skilled Migration Program, How do they Affect You?

Following on from the Australian Government changes to the skilled migration program on the 18th of April 2017, the Government has made further changes. Some of the changes affect pending applications that were lodged prior to the 1st of July 2017, but most of the changes only affect new applications made on or after the 1st of July 2017.

Here’s a summary of the changes:

Visa Application Charge Increase

There has been a slight increase to the Visa application charges for all subclasses of Visa. This applies to both primary and secondary applicants and affects the first instalment, the second instalment (which applies to some Visas subclasses) has not changed. 

Updates to the Skilled Occupations Lists

Occupations removed from the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL):

  • Equipment Hire Manager
  • Fleet Manager
  • Picture Framer
  • Property Manager
  • Real Estate Agent Principal
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Real Estate Agent Representative
  • University Tutor

Occupations removed from the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL):

  • Psychotherapist
  • Ship’s Engineer
  • Ship’s Master
  • Ship’s Officer

Note: The occupations that have been removed from the MLTSSL don’t appear on the STSOL either.

36 occupations have been added to the STSOL, and some occupations have been moved between the STSOL and MLTSSL.

Caveats on some occupations have been revised.

Updates to Subclass 186 (ENS) and Subclass 187 (RSMS)

Age Requirements

Applicants in the Direct Entry Stream (DE) must be younger than 45 years of age, this applies to visa applications lodged on or after the 1st of July 2017.

The current under 50 years of age limit for the Temporary Residence Transition Stream (TRT) will remain in place until the 1st of March 2018, when it will be reduced to under the 45 year of age limit.

The age exemptions for both the DE and TRT streams will remain in place.

English Language Requirements

Applications lodged on or after the 1st of July 2017 made under the TRT Stream require the applicant to have Competent English, which requires one of the following:

  • You hold a passport from the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland
  • IELTS: Have scored at least 6 in each of the four test components (speaking, reading, listening and writing)
  • OET: Have scored a B or above in each of the four test components
  • TOEFL: Have scored at least 12 for listening, 13 for reading, 21 for writing and 18 for speaking
  • PTE: Have scored at least 50 in each of the four test components
  • CAE: Have scored at least 169 in each of the four test components

The English language exemption for applicants with nominated earnings which equalled or exceeded the highest Australian Tax bracket (currently $180,001) no longer applies. This applies to all applications, including those lodged prior to the 1st of July 2017 that are yet to be finally determined.

Genuine Position

All nominations made under the DE and TRT streams must provide evidence of a genuine need for the person to work in the nominated role. The nominated employee is required to work under the direct control of the nominating employer.

Skills Assessment Exemption

The skills assessment exemption for applicants in the DE Stream with nominated earnings that equalled or exceeded the highest Australian Tax bracket (currently $180,001), no longer applies. This applies to all applications, including those lodged prior to the 1st of July 2017 that are yet to be finally determined.

Training Requirements for Subclass 186 DE

Training Benchmark A: Funds that offer commissions or refunds for failed visa applications can no longer be used.

Training Benchmark B: Scholarships payments for non-employees are no longer acceptable. A trainer’s salary is only accepted if the person is engaged solely as a trainer.

New Subclass 189 Stream for New Zealand Citizens

New Zealand citizens who hold a subclass 444 have a new pathway to permanent residence under the Subclass 189 New Zealand Stream.

The applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • must have been usually resident in Australia on or before the 19th of February 2016
  • must have resided in Australia for at least 5 years
  • must have contributed to Australia through income tax return and show taxable income of at least the equivalent to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)
  • must meet mandatory health, character and security criteria

Once granted, the visa holder is eligible to apply for Australian citizenship after 12 months.

Updates to Subclass 190 and 489

Applicants must be younger than 45 years of age, this applies to visa applications lodged on or after the 1st of July 2017.

Updates to Subclass 457

Character Requirements

The applicant must provide national police clearance certificates for every country they have lived in for more than 12 months, within the last 10 years. This applies to applications lodged on or after the 1st of July.

English Language Requirements

Applicants whose salary exceeds $96,400 will no longer be exempt from the English language requirement, this applies to applications lodged on or after the 1st of July unless:

  • The applicant is eligible for another English language exemption (eg: they are a passport holder from an eligible country)
  • The applicant is employed by an overseas company or associated entity and have a salary of at least $96,400

Skills Assessment for Certain Nationalities

Applicants from Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan nominating their occupation as a Chef or a Cook must submit a skills assessment with their application.

Sponsorship Accreditation Arrangements

Certain low risk sponsors who only occasionally nominate employees will now have access to priority processing.

Training Requirements

Training Benchmark A: Funds that offer commissions or refunds for failed visa applications can no longer be used.

Training Benchmark B: Scholarships payments for non-employees are no longer acceptable. A trainer’s salary is only accepted if the person is engaged solely as a trainer.

 

In March 2018, the Subclass 457 visa will be replaced with a new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa, which will include a short term stream of up to 2 years and a medium term stream of up to 4 years. This is part of an Australian Government push to support businesses with genuine skills shortages in their workforce and aims to prioritise Australian workers.

Stay tuned for more updates

Are you looking for a Migration Agent in Melbourne? 

How do the changes affect you? Are you eligible for a Visa? Find out today:

5 things You Must Know Before Hiring a Migration Agent

Migrating to Australia is a massive commitment that requires a lot of hard work and an element of risk. In many cases migrants are giving up their family and career in their home country in search of a better life in Australia. A lot of migrants chose to use the services of a Migration Agent to advise them on their options and assist throughout the visa application process. A lot of Migration Agents have the best interests of their clients at heart, however there are a few bad apples that ruin the reputation of the industry.

When choosing a Migration Agent, there are some important things to consider:

1. Is your Agent Registered?

Under Migration Law, Australian based Migration Agents and Migration Lawyers must be registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA), which is an Australian government authority that monitors and regulates agents. Clients are able to make complaints about a Registered Migration Agents to MARA, the complaints are investigated and sometimes Agents are sanctioned if they are in the wrong.

For an Agent to become registered they must have completed a Graduate Certificate in Australian Immigration Law (this will soon change to a Graduate Diploma), meet the English language requirement, and be of good character. Agents pay an annual registration fee and take part in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses to maintain their registration. This ensures that each Agent has an up to date understanding of Australian Immigration Law.

You can tell if an Agent is registered from their Migration Agent Registration Number (MARN), this is a 7 digit number that must appear on the Agent’s website and any advertisements. You can also check if an agent is registered by visiting the MARA website and searching their name or their MARN: https://www.mara.gov.au

2. Migration Agent Code of Conduct

All Registered Migration Agents are bound by the Migration Agent Code of Conduct. The Code is set out in migration legislation to regulate the conduct of Agents and includes standards of professional conduct, obligations to clients, relations between Agents, fees and charges, record keeping and management, financial duties, duties to employees, complaints, termination or services and client awareness of the code. For anyone planning to use the services of a Registered Migration Agent it’s worth reading the Code of Conduct to ensure your Agent is doing the right thing by you. You can find the Code of Conduct on the MARA website: https://www.mara.gov.au/media/553229/Code_of_Conduct_April_2017.pdf

3. Onshore Agent vs Offshore Agent?

Be wary of offshore Migration Agents based outside of Australia as there is no requirement for them to be registered with MARA. This means that they aren’t required to complete the necessary education and undertake CPD courses to stay updated with migration legislation. They aren’t bound by the Migration Agent Code of Conduct, and they aren’t required to pay registration or indemnity insurance. In some cases offshore agents may have cheaper fees, but the chances of a successful visa application are reduced due to lack of Agent knowledge and accountability. There is also no governing authority to make complaints against an offshore Agent, so therefore you’re on your own.

4. Professional Fees

Migration Agents must provide an estimate of the fees that are likely to be incurred as part of the initial consultation process. Some agents charge for an initial consultation, but many provide this service for free. The professional fees charged by a Migration Agent vary, this is dependent on several factors:

Type of Visa and Client Circumstances

Visas applications can vary greatly. Some applications are relatively straight forward, but many are more complex and therefore take longer to prepare. This can be determined by the type of visa, but can also be determined by the personal circumstances of the client.

Services Included

In most cases an agent will provide advice, review documents, prepare and submit the visa application, then liase with the Department of Immigration. However, some agents will charge additional fees for extra tasks that are considered out of the ordinary, for example:

  • Applying for skills assessments
  • Applying for police or health checks
  • Applying for bridging visas for travel purposes
  • Additional work required when unexpected health or character issues arise

It’s important to read your Agent Agreement to ensure you understand what services are included.

Experience and Reputation of the Agent

Some agents have a lot of experience and have built a reputation over many years of trading. Therefore the agent is able to charge higher fees because clients are willing to pay for their experience and knowledge.

Size of the Firm

When it comes to Migration Firms bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, but you may end up paying higher fees. This is because larger firms have higher overheads and pass these onto the consumer. Some firms are more profit driven, and therefore charge higher fees, but you may be assigned an inexperienced agent within that firm. Some agents work from home and have low overheads, so are therefore able to provide a more personalised service at a lower cost.

MARA have compiled a table of the average fees charged by agents, you can check their website to ensure you’re being charged the right amount: https://www.mara.gov.au/using-an-agent/working-with-your-agent/agent-fees

5. Is Your Agent a Member of the Migration Institute of Australia?

Established in 1992, the Migration Institute of Australia (MIA) is the leading professional association for Registered Migration Agents. Agents must meet strict requirements to join the MIA and to maintain their membership. The MIA supports Agents by providing them with up to date information on legislative changes, weekly newsletters, professional support and networking opportunities. If your Agent is a member of the MIA you can rest assured that they have the support they need to provide you with the service you need. Members of the MIA usually display the MIA logo on their website.

 

It's important to find an Agent that you’re comfortable with on a personal level as they will be required to have a very intimate understanding of your circumstances. In some cases you will be dealing with your Agent over the course of a number of years, so having a good relationship with them is important. An Agent will ask you to be honest with them and this is important because hiding certain facts could be detrimental to your visa application. If an Agent is fully aware of all the facts from the outset, there’s sometimes action they can take to help improve your chances of success.

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