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The Australian government has just handed down the 2020/21 budget, and this provides the best insight into how the visa situation will be for the next 12 months.
Since the information has been released there have been a number of people spreading false and fanciful commentary. I have been inundated with calls from clients literally freaking out based on this.
Personally I believe overall it is generally positive for people looking long term – short term visitor visas do not look good for non-family until late 2021.
Not for the first time this year I hear myself reminding people – Rely on fact and not rumour. It would seem some people want their 15 minutes of fame and are scaring people for no reason.
Rant over – here are the facts.
Refunds and Waived Fees
The budget announced waiver or refunds of fees for people who had visas and could not travel. This includes people on Prospective Marriage Visas – so this is huge. This also applies to Visitor, Temporary Work and Student visas – anyone that could not travel because of the border closures.
Partner visa applicants are the big winners out of this. The number of Partner Visa allocations has almost doubled to 72,300 in the current period. This will go a long way to clear the backlog and reduce the processing times.
There is going to be priority for onshore applications, and for where the Sponsor is based in designated regional areas. Regardless thoughif you apply onshore or offshore this is great news, however this may lead to a rush of applications so you may want to get into the queue sooner rather than later.
Now for the false fear mongering… the new English Language Test
There have been a number of alarming reports about how partners applications will be refused if they fail the English test.
Let me be super clear – THIS IS FAKE NEWS!
The planned introduction of the English test is so new arrivals can more easily integrate into Australian society. It is more about social cohesion and is not the evil that it is being portrayed as.
When a temporary Stage 1 visa is approved, when the applicant arrives in Australia they will be given UNLIMITED FREE English lessons. The government recently removed the limit of 510 hours, so they can learn English for free and as many lessons as they want.
Then before they are granted the Stage 2 Permanent visa they will need to pass an English test.
Just to be clear, failure would not result in a visa being refused – however it would attract a secondary Visa Application Charge like the current situation for skilled visa family members, which will hurt the hip pocket but will not keep couples apart.
There has been an overall reduction in places however this reflects the decrease in demand and the focus is on industries and occupations that are the best fit for Australia’s current needs.
Here is the bad news…
It does look like mainstream travel through visitor visas for the masses will not be resumed until the latter part of 2021.
So unless you can meet the exemption criteria, which would mainly be the immediate family exemption, it is not going to be easy.
This is going to impact mainly on people in relationships that do not meet the above test, so boyfriends and girlfriends are going to have a tough road ahead who are not ready to progress to a partner visa.
Also the Travel Exemption system us currently a mess and frustrating many people. I am happy to advise and assist anyone that has any questions in this area and am also collecting information for future submissions as to the shortcomings of the current system.
VFS To Open
Finally, VFS is planned to open in the next week or two, so Australian visa processing and services should return to normal very soon.
At Australian Visas Thailand we specialize in Australian Migration Law and helping you get the best outcome possible the first time. We provide a Free Consultation Service by qualified experts and can assist in both English and Thai and would be pleased to provide information and support. Please contact us on 095 085 3355 (English) or 086 778 6221 (Thai) to get immediate assistance.
Simon Wetherell is an Australian lawyer with over 20 years experience. He specialises in Australian immigration and is an Australian Registered Migration Agent #1464995. More information is available at https://AustralianVisas-Thailand.com Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AustralianVisasThailand/ or you can call him on +66 8 4400 9487 or +61 8 6102 1005.
Simon is also on the Board of Directors for Australia Thailand Chamber of Commerce in Thailand https://AustChamThailand.com