Health Insurance: What you need to know

Thursday, July 17, 2014
Blog by Christel Dajcz, Registered Migration Agent (MARN) 1066568 at AMVL Migrations.

Many people choose to pay for private health insurance. Private health insurance funds cover costs for many treatments as a private patient in private or public hospitals and can include some services that Medicare does not cover, such as dental care, most optical care and (depending on the state you settle in) ambulance transport. If you wish to purchase private health insurance, it is important to compare different funds, particularly as the cost and type of cover can vary widely. 

When selecting a health insurance policy, you will need to consider a number of important issues:
  • What is covered? – does the policy meet your immediate and future needs.
  • What is not covered? – do you have any existing health conditions or plans to start a family.
  • What are the waiting times before you can claim – sometimes these can be waived, particularly during promotional periods.
  • What extras can you claim and what are your limits? – if you do need optical or remedial therapies cover, is the limit too low?
It is also important to consider how you will be affected if you do not have private health cover. The Australian Government can apply certain surcharges and levies, but they also offer some incentives as well.

The main surcharge that can affect new migrants is the Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading surcharge. This means that if you purchase hospital cover after the 1st of July following your 31st birthday, you will have to pay the Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading on top of your premium. This is a 2% loading on top of your premium for every year you are aged over 30.

New migrants have until the later of 1 July following your 31st birthday or the 12 month anniversary of your registration for full Medicare benefits (i.e. when you are eligible for a blue or green Medicare card) to take out private hospital cover without incurring a Lifetime Health Cover loading.

There are a number of websites that can assist you with selecting a policy by comparing a range of providers, their coverage, and the costs involved. Compare the Market also has a handy ‘Health-ucator’ tool to introduce people to Health Insurance and guide them through how insurance works and what Australians consider important at each stage of their lives. To access the Health-ucator, click here

For expert and friendly Australian migration advice, contact the team of Registered Migration Agents at AMVL Migrations today.

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Happy Financial New Year!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Blog by Christel Dajcz, Registered Migration Agent (MARN) 1066568 at AMVL Migrations.

It is at this time each year that we in the Migration industry brace for the inevitable changes to legislation, application processes, and - most of all - fee increases. But 1 July 2014 has arrived without the usual fanfare, and brings some encouraging news for applicants. 

Surprisingly there was no lodgement fee hike or increase to the Contributory Parent visa second VAC fee. This is welcome news, considering the numerous fee increases in 2013 and the introduction of processing fees on credit card payments earlier this year.

Skill assessments are now only valid for 3 years from the date of issue, unless the assessing authority sets a shorter validity period. IT applicants need to be mindful that Australian Computer Society skills assessments are only valid for 2 years.

Three new occupations were added to the Skilled Occupation List (SOL), meaning that Bricklayers, Wall & Floor Tilers, and Chefs can now apply for an Independent Skilled visa if they can meet the points test. Just a warning though; Chef and Cook are not seen as the same occupation by the Department of Immigration so we strongly suggest speaking with a Migration Agent about your qualifications and work experience before applying as a Chef.

Two new occupations were also added to the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL), so qualified Hydrogeologists and Exercise Physiologists can now apply for State or Employer-sponsored visas.

The Queensland State Government sponsorship list has been updated, and there are exciting changes for PhD graduates who have studied in the state, as well as skilled workers already in regional Queensland – watch this space for more information!

There is also great news for employers as there was no increase to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) which is the base rate of pay for 457 visa holders. This remains steady at $53,900pa. There is a 457 visa review underway which could lead to more changes to the program, but we are optimistic that this would mean less red tape for employers.

All in all a somewhat quiet start to the 2014/2015 financial year, but as always we anticipate amendments to the State Migration plans and potential legislation updates later on in the year. AMVL will ensure you are kept up-to-date on all important changes via Facebook, Twitter, and our bi-monthly newsletters. Click here to connect with us and keep yourself in the know!
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A Sad Farewell to Family Visas

Thursday, May 22, 2014
Blog by Philip Duncan, Registered Migration Agent (MARN) 0427769 and Director at AMVL Migrations.

Last Wednesday’s budget announcement by the Federal government, has generated a lot of discussion and protest. What has had little media attention however is the government’s plan to close new applications to a number of family visas. Details of when and how this will happen are little to none, all that we know is that it will be “very soon” and that it applies to many parent visas, remaining relatives, aged dependents and carers.

Mainstream family visas have always included parents, children and partners who can be sponsored by Australian citizens or permanent residents in certain circumstances. There have also been visas to cater for compassionate circumstances, such as where a relative was required to come to Australia to care for an elderly family member. But family and parent options are now set to shrink even further.

Once these changes take effect, the only options for sponsoring parents in the future will be the Contributory Parent subclasses, affectionately known to us as the “fast, expensive” Parent visa. Contributory Parents pay visa application charges of close to $50,000 per person and there is also a 10 year Bond of $10,000 for the main applicants.

Contributory Parents will still need to meet the ‘Balance of Family’ test which requires them to show that at least half of their children are permanent residents or citizens of Australia, as well as meeting the health and character requirements that apply to most permanent visas. However it appears that the current options for a ‘non-contributory’ parent visa (what we call the “cheap, slow” Parent visa because it takes 15 years or more to process) will no longer be available. Even with the extraordinarily slow processing, this has been an attractive option for parents of more modest means who could not afford the contributory option.

“Remaining Relative” has also been a great compassionate option where a relative finds themselves the last family member not in Australia. It avoided the situation where a whole family had migrated, but one family member was effectively ‘orphaned’ overseas, unable to meet the requirements of any other visa. That visa subclass will also be closed to new applicants following the changes.

Partners and children will still be able to join their families in Australia, as long as they meet the strict requirements. But for other family members, things are about to get a whole lot harder. It remains to be seen as to whether any of these visa subclasses will be replaced and we can only hope to see new alternatives for families who wish to join their loved ones to live in Australia.

Applicants who have already lodged their visa applications (and those who are able to lodge before the cutoff) will apparently have their applications processed. But other families will be out of luck.

If you wish to lodge a visa from one of these ceasing categories, we recommend that you do so immediately. We have a great team of Registered Migration Agents who can provide you with prompt, professional assistance. Contact us for more information.

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