Budget 2015-16 - Migrants to Pay More

webster By Mark Webster
Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Budget for the 2015-16 financial year was tabled on Tuesday night.

In terms of the impact on immigration, the effect can be summarised as "Migrants to Pay More" with application fees for most visa types increasing from 1 July 2015.

Increase to Offshore Application Fees for Family Migration

Hardest hit will be offshore visa applicants in the family stream. Currently, it is much less expensive to lodge an offshore family stream visa compared to lodging from within Australia. For example, it currently costs $4,630 to lodge a partner visa offshore, versus $6,865 to lodge the application in Australia.

Immigration will "harmonise" application fees for family stream visas from 1 July. As a result, offshore applicants will pay the same higher fee as onshore applicants. This change affects partner visas, and also prospective spouse (fiance) visas for which the fee will increase by over $2,000. This brings a whole new meaning to "Harmony Day".

Non-Contributory Parent, Other Family, and Special Migrant category visas will not only be "harmonised" but subject to a 10% increase in fees. For instance, the fee for an offshore parent visa will increase by $1,500. Visa types subject to both "harmonisation" and the 10% increase include:

  • Non-Contributory Parent: $3,870
  • Aged Dependent Relative: $3,870
  • Remaining Relative: $3,870
  • Distinguished Talent: $3,655
  • Former Resident: $3,520

The good news is that at least there seems to be no immediate plan to again attempt to abolish other family visas, so at least it would appear that these visa categories will remain open for the time being.

Significant Investor Visas - 50% Increase in Fees

The Significant Investor stream of the Business Innovation and Investment Subclass 188 will face a 50% increase in fees to $7,010.

5% Increase for Most Visa Application Types

Many other visa types are subject to a 5% increase - examples include:

CPI Increase for Skilled Stream Visas

Remaining visas are subject to a CPI increase of 2.3% - these include most of the skilled stream visas as follows:
The modest increase in skilled migration fees, as compared to the hefty increases to family migration fees, really underline the current government's focus on skilled migration over family migration.

Working Holiday Makers to Pay More Tax

In Australia, individual tax payers who are generally subject to a $20,000 tax free threshold - that is, they are not subject to tax on the first $20,000 of their income. The tax free threshold is only available to people who are residents of Australia for tax purposes.

From 1 July 2016, Working holiday makers will no longer be considered tax residents, and so lose their access to the tax free threshold. This will result in them paying up to an extra $3,800 in tax each year.

How Do I Avoid the Fee Increase?

If you would like to avoid the increase in application fees, you should lodge your application prior to 1 July 2015. If you would like to discuss lodging an application, please book a consultation with one of our immigration advisors.


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