2012-13 Budget Announcement - Immigration ChangesBy Mark Webster
11 May 2012 A number of changes to Australian immigration arrangements have been announced as part of the 2012-13 Federal Budget. The main changes which have been announced are:
- 5,000 additional places for the 2012-13 Migration Program - both skilled and family sponsored visa numbers have increased
- Changes to visa health criteria making it easier for people with medical conditions to qualify
- Increases to Visa Application Fees - fees for visa evidencing and including additional family members to apply from 1 July 2012
- New Penalties for employing people in breach of visa conditions
- Expansion of the Pacific Seasonal Worker Program
2012-13 Migration Program IncreasesThe overall numbers for the 2012-13 Migration program have been announced. The overall program will be 190,000 which is an increase of 5,000 places from 2011-12. There will be 129,250 places in the skilled stream, an increase of 3,400. The reasoning for the increase is that there is ongoing strong demand for skilled labour in parts of the Australian community. The family stream will increase from 58,600 places to 60,185 places - an increase of 1,585 places. It is good to see the family migration program being acknowledged as being an important factor in attracting and retaining skilled migrants. People applying for family sponsored visas, such as partner visas, should hopefully experience faster processing of their applications going forward.
Changes to Visa Health criteriaThe health criteria for visa applications will be changed from 1 July 2012. A visa application can be refused if the estimated costs of treating a pre-existing health condition exceed a "Significant Cost Threshold". The current threshold figure is $21,000, but this will be raised to $35,000 from 1 July 2012. This is a large percentage increase and may make it possible for a significant number of applicants to qualify for visas even though they have a medical condition.
Visa Fee IncreasesDepartment of Immigration charges will be increased in a number of areas, including:
- Charging for putting a visa label into a passport
- Charging for each additional visa applicant - under the current system, family members of the main applicant can be included in a visa application without an additional fee.