What is a De Facto relationship?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Blog by Kara Williams, Registered Migration Agent (MARN) 1386065 at AMVL Migrations

What constitutes a de facto relationship is often misunderstood by couples interested in applying for an Australian visa. Many applicants are under the impression they are in a de facto relationship, when in the eyes of the Department of Immigration, they are really only “dating”. 

So what is a de facto relationship in Australia? According to the Family Law Act you are in a de facto relationship with another person if you are not legally married to each other, you are not related by family and you have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis. In assessing if a couple are living together on a genuine domestic basis, factors taken into account include the degree of the couple’s combined financial affairs; the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life; the reputation and public aspects of the relationship; the nature and extent of common residence; the ownership and use of their property; and the care and support of children.

De facto status is not achieved through any formal ceremony, other than registering your relationship in some Australian States or Territories. Unlike marriage, de facto status is not entirely portable. This means, while it is recognised in all states of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, it is not formally recognised in the USA and many other countries. 

The Department of Immigration assess all applicants who claim to be a de facto partner on the genuineness of the relationship. You must be able to show that you are in a long term, committed relationship with each other with evidence of living in a de facto relationship for a minimum period of time – 6 months for most temporary visas, and 12 months for permanent visas.  If you are applying for a Partner visa on the basis of your de facto relationship, you must be able to show that you have been in a de facto relationship for a minimum of 12 months immediately before applying or that you have registered your relationship with the relevant authority.

Understanding if you are in a de facto relationship can be crucial when applying for any type of Australian visa. It is therefore important to engage an experienced Registered Migration Agent for initial advice and assistance.
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Changes to the migration program in 2015/16

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Blog by Helen Duncan, Registered Migration Agent (MARN) 0003187 at AMVL Migrations

The Australian Federal Government budget for 2015/16 was announced a few weeks ago and as well as containing changes for Australians, there were also some important announcements affecting people from overseas who want to come to Australia.

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. 

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Visa pathways after graduation

Thursday, May 07, 2015
Blog by Thomas Wingfield, Registered Migration Agent (MARN) 1387926 at AMVL Migrations

Graduation can be an exciting time for students. An important issue for many international students is finding out which visa they can apply for when they have completed their studies. 

A graduate visa is a great way to transition from a student visa to a work visa. There are now two different graduate visas: 

The post- study work stream (subclass 485) visa.  
The graduate work stream (subclass 485) visa. 

To be eligible for a post - study work stream visa a student must have studied full time in Australia in a CRICOS registered course for a minimum of 2 years. This study must have lead to the completion of an Australian bachelor degree, master degree or Phd. It is fine to use more than one completed degree at this level to satisfy the 2 year Australian study requirement. An important criterion for this visa is that the applicant’s first ever Australian student visa must have been applied for and granted on or after 5 November 2011. The post - study work stream visa is valid for 2 years if the student completed a bachelor degree or a master degree by coursework, 3 years if the student completed a masters degree by research, and 4 years if the student completed a Phd. 

The graduate work stream visa may be available if a student has completed an Australian CRICOS registered qualification, or qualifications, related to an occupation on the skilled occupation list (SOL), which required at least 2 years of full time study in Australia. Importantly each qualification used to satisfy the 2 year Australian study requirement must be closely related to the applicant’s nominated occupation. Graduating students often choose this visa if they held an Australian student visa before 5 November 2011 or they want to apply for a graduate visa on the basis of a trade qualification, diploma or advanced diploma. An applicant will need to apply for a skills assessment before they can apply for this visa. The graduate work stream visa is valid for 18 months once granted.  

In addition to graduate visas, in some circumstances a student may be eligible to apply for a permanent skilled (GSM) visa once they finish their studies. 

Employer sponsored visas, partner visas, skilled regional visas and working holiday visas may also be available to graduating students. Please note that this is a brief overview of the visas which may be available to graduating students. I would encourage graduating students who are interested in applying for a visa to speak to a migration agent about their situation and the visa eligibility criteria. 

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