Australian budget immigration changes
15 May 2012
Following our announcement about Australia's decision to increase immigration numbers to fill skill gaps, we have further information regarding Australia's 2012-13 budget and future immigration changes.
Visa Health criteriaFrom 1 July 2012, the government will change the health criteria for visa applications. Any Australian visa application can be refused if the estimated costs of treating a pre-existing health condition exceed a "significant cost threshold". Currently, the threshold is $21,000, but from 1 July 2012 this will be increased to $35,000. This change will likely help more people become eligible for Australian visas.
Visa Fee IncreasesVisa fees will increase for several Australian visas including the following:
Also, each additional visa applicant will now be charged for. Currently, family members of the main visa applicant can be included in a visa application without an additional fee.These changes are expected to be in effect from 1 July 2012.
- Increase in passenger movement charge from $8 to $55.
- Increase in Visa label charges from 2012-13 to increase from $60 to $70.
- Increase in price of paper lodgements 2013-14 from $60 to $80.
New Employer PenaltiesNew penalties will be introduced for employers who employ workers in breach of their visa conditions. The penalties will operate on a "strict liability" basis, meaning it does not have to be proven that a person intended to commit the offence; doing the act is itself enough for a conviction. There are already criminal penalties for employers who employ people illegally. However, it is difficult to enforce and has led to only a handful of successful prosecutions.Penalties to employers could include a warning, infringement notices, financial penalties, civil penalties, or criminal prosecution for the most serious breaches.It is expected that the new penalties will be introduced at the end of this year.
Pacific Seasonal Worker Program ExpandedThe Pacific Seasonal Worker Program will be expanded to 12,000 places over the next four years. Agricultural, fisheries and tourism industries will also be able to use the program for the first time. The Pacific Seasonal Worker Program allows seasonal workers from Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu who have been invited by an Approved Employer to come to Australia to work. Under this program Pacific seasonal workers:
- are able work in Australia for four to six months
- may return to work in future years, if they comply with visa conditions
- are limited to working with Approved Employers
- must maintain private health insurance during their stay
- are not permitted to apply for another visa while in Australia
- need to pay for own living expenses, other incidentals and part of their international and domestic travel
- are not be able to bring dependants with them
- must be aged between 21–45 years. Citizens of Kiribati must be aged between 25–40 years.
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