IMPACT – MEDIUM
What is the change? The Australian Government has introduced a bill to the Federal Parliament that would make it more cumbersome for Australian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor family members on visas.
What does the change mean? Among other changes, the bill, if passed, would introduce character checks for all sponsors of family visa applicants and require approval of family sponsors before relevant visa applications can be lodged.
Background: The Turnbull Government introduced the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 on 1 September.
Among other changes, the bill would introduce character checks for sponsors of family visa applicants, require the approval of family sponsors before relevant visa applications can be lodged, apply new obligations on people who are approved as family sponsors, and permit the refusal of sponsorship applications where abuse of the program is evident, especially in cases involving family violence.
The changes would make it more difficult to sponsor family members. Currently, for example, police checks of family sponsors of family visa applications are only required in cases involving children under the age of 18. Additionally, the requirement that family sponsors be approved before the lodgement of visa applications could slow processing. Currently, assessment of the sponsorship requirements are conducted at the same time as visa applications.
The legislation is written such that the changes would apply first to sponsors of partner visas and eventually to all sponsored family visas.
BAL Analysis: The Government said in a statement that the proposed partner and family visa changes would help address problems of family violence. Some of the requirements will make it more difficult to sponsor family members and are likely to contribute to the lengthy processing times already associated with these types of visas.
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