Budget 2017-18: Immigration Changes

The Commonwealth 2017-18 Budget was handed down last night. Important initiatives affecting visa applicants were announced:

Employers who sponsor employees for temporary and permanent visas to pay a training levy
More details on temporary parent visas to apply from 1 November 2017
Visa application charge increases to apply from 1 July 2017
Training Levy for Employers Sponsoring Staff

From March 2018, employers will pay a training levy which will go towards the Skilling Australians Fund. The Skilling Australians Fund will fund training of Australians in apprenticeship and trainee programs to develop skills of local workers.
This will replace the current training benchmarks for employers using the 457 and ENS programs. This is likely to make it more straightforward for employers to comply with the training obligation, albeit somewhat more expensive.

The amount payable will depend on the size of the business, with those with turnover of at least $10 million will pay more. They payments will apply to both the Temporary Skills Shortages (TSS) visa and permanent employer sponsored visas (ENS and RSMS).

The payment for TSS visa holders will apply on an annual basis per employee. It is not yet clear how the fee will be collected – it could either be paid upfront with the visa application charge or an invoice might be issued at the end of each financial year. It appears that the fee will apply based on each sponsored employee based on the proportion of the year the employee was working for the employer.

For permanent employer sponsored applications, the fee will be a one-off fee and is likely to be collected on application.

The training levies are summarised below:

Small Business Large Business (turnover $10m or more)
TSS $1,200 $1,800
RSMS/ENS $3,000 $5,000
We now also have full details of the fees for the new Temporary Skills Shortages Visa – these are in line with expectations and are summarised below:

Stream Main Applicant Dependent 18 or Over Dependent Under 18
Short-Term Stream (2 year validity) $1,150 $1,150 $290
Medium-Term Stream (4 year validity) $2,400 $2,400 $600
Temporary Sponsored Parent Visas

More information on the new temporary sponsored parent visas was made available.
The new visas will be introduced in November 2017 and will require sponsorship by an Australian permanent resident or citizen child. It is quite possible that the parent would not be required to meet the balance of family test, unlike other parent visas.

The visa will be valid for either 3 years, or 5 years. The application fee for the 3-year option will be $5,000 whilst the 5-year option will cost $10,000. It will be possible to renew the visa, but this will need to be done from outside Australia. A stay of up to 10 years will be allowed in total.

Parents on the new visas will not be eligible for Medicare and the sponsoring child will be liable for any medical expenses, including aged care.

15,000 of the new temporary sponsored parent visas will be available each program year. This is a big increase from the current allocation of 8,675 places for parent visas. Accordingly, we would expect waiting times to be considerably less than contributory parent visas (2 years+) and non-contributory parent visas (30 years+).

The current parent visa categories will remain open to applications. Holders of the new temporary parent visas will not be able to apply onshore for permanent parent visas, but it is possible they might be able to lodge an application offshore. We will need to wait for details of how many places will be available for permanent parent visa categories and this is likely to have a significant impact on waiting times.

It is not yet clear whether the additional 15,000 places will be considered part of the migration program or not. Overall, the migration program will remain at 190,000 places. Interestingly, the Minister for Immigration in his Budget announcement has indicated that this is a ceiling for the program and he may well accept a program outcome lower than this.

Visa Application Charge increases

Visa Application Fees will be increased on an annual basis in line with inflation. This restores the previous practice which applied prior to 2007.
The new fees will apply from 1 July 2017 – for most visa types, the increase is around 2%. Changes for some common visa types are below:

Visa Type Current Fee From 1 July 2017 % Increase
Student $550 $560 1.8%
General Skilled Migration $3,600 $3,670 1.9%
Graduate Temporary Subclass 485 $1,470 $1,500 2.0%
Partner Temporary $6,965 $7,000 0.5%
Parent (Contributory) $3,695 $3,945 6.8%
457 $1,060 $1,080 1.9%
ENS/RSMS $3,600 $3,670 1.9%
Visitor $135 $140 3.7%
Bridging B $140 $145 3.6%
Business Migration $4,780 $4,875 2.0%
Significant Investor Visa (SIV) $7,010 $7,150 2.0%
Applicants for contributory parent visas will be glad to hear that the increase to the application fee is only 6.8% from 1 July – previous indications suggested that fees might be increased significantly.

The fact sheet on fee increases also states that the fee increases do not apply to Second Visa Application Charges. The second Visa Application Charge for contributory parent visas is significant (currently $43,600 per parent).

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