Of significance, it was announced that the permanent non-humanitarian migration program will remain unchanged at 190,000 places, which is great news. This will include approximately 128,550 places for skilled migration (which is no change from the current year) and 57,400 places for family migration (which is a slightly lower level from the current year program of 61000 places). However the Government announced that in addition at least 3,485 places will be provided for Child category migrants.
It is assumed that this quarantining of places for Child visas will result in these visas being processed a bit faster than they are currently (which is around 12 months). The slight lowering of the family migration places however will not alleviate the delays in partner visa processing so these applicants will continue to have to wait more than 12 months for a visa decision. It is a pity that while partners pay the highest price for their visa applications, they are not given enough places in the program to be processed as quickly as the skilled intake. In our experience partners are often highly skilled people who contribute to the Australian economy in many ways and should be given the same priorities.
It is good news as well that the Humanitarian intake would remain steady over the next financial year, remaining at 13,750 places in 2016/17 then increase to 16,250 places in 2017/18 and 18,750 places in 2018-19.
As in previous years, the budget brings increases in visa fees and this budget is no different. Most fee increases are not extreme, with the exception of offshore partner and fiancé applications that will increase to the level of the onshore partner visas ($6,865). Also increasing significantly is the application fee for the Significant Investor Visa (SIV) from $4,675 to $7,010 for the main applicant.
Other important announcements affecting people wanting to come to Australia included the announcement that young people on Working Holiday Visas are to be taxed as a non-resident for tax purposes. This means they will be taxed at 32.5% from their first dollar of income up to $80,000. This comes soon after an ABC Television Four Corners report highlighted the abuse by some employers paying working holiday makers significantly less than their Australian co-workers. It seems that the Government has problems with employers not treating overseas workers the same as an Australian, but it’s alright for them to do this, as now working holiday makers will be paying more tax than the Australian working next to them.
The Budget forecasted that international student migration will increase from 88,200 in 2014 to 139,300 in 2017-18, following the introduction of new visa streamlining measures and post-study work arrangements. This is certainly good news for the education sector.
Lastly it has also been announced that Lawyers will not need to be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA), to offer migration advice. Lawyers are already required to be registered through the various state legal societies and this was considered to be sufficient to protect the consumer. In our experience OMARA has provided better protection than the legal societies, and certainly all the migration agents at AMVL Migrations will continue to be registered with OMARA so you can be sure that we adhere to the highest standards when giving migration advice.