A Family Affair – Australian Partner and Family migration

 

Partner visas & Parent visas

Australian Partner & Family Migration

The great focus of Australian immigration is the ever-changing skilled migration. What is not commented on as much though, even though it is such an important of the Australian immigration program, is the Partner & Family Migration programs.

The Partner and Family migration programs in brief allows for spouses, de facto partners, fiancees or certain family members to be sponsored by an eligible individual  – known as a sponsor – to migrate to Australia. The Sponsor must be an Australian Citizen, Permanent Resident or an eligible NZ citizen and either the partner or an appropriate relation to the applicant/s for the visa class they apply for.

Whilst these Partner & Family Migration visas have remained pretty much the same at their core over the past decade or so, much like skilled migration there have been some significant changes and they are worth taking note of. Especially if they may effect a potential application. In this piece I have considered some, but not all the visa subclasses, that fall in these programs and provided some comments on the visa itself as well as changes that have taken place. The visas I have considered included the Partner visa, Prospective Spouse visa. the Child visa, the Parent visa, the Contributory Parent visa and the Remaining Relative visa.

PARTNER VISA

Starting with Partner visas, as per the name of the visa these are for applicants who have an Australian partner. Applicants can apply for these visas whether they are married or in a de facto relationship for at least 12 months (although there are some limited exceptions to the 12 months) with their Australian partner.
The applicant must provide evidence that their relationship with their Australian partner is ‘genuine and continuing’ and they must meet the public interest criteria of being of good health and character.
Whilst this general criteria has not changed in the last decade or so there have been some notable changes. This starts with with the definition of ‘spouse’ and ‘de facto’ partner. Prior to 2009 these referred to a man and a woman, but since then it now includes same-sex relationships.
It has not changed to the extent that same sex-marriages are recognised for this visa – although no doubt his will change in time – but to the extent that prior to 2009 same-sex couples had a different visa subclass to apply under. This visa was known as the Interdependent visa.
In addition to the above Partner migration now recognises the growing influence of formally recognised relationships outside marriage – be they opposite sex or same-sex.
Partner visas now recognise that if an applicant has their relationship registered with an Australian state then the 12 month de facto requirement can be waived. You will note that this is a state requirement, so the requirements do differ from state to state.

From a more practical perspective the processing times for Partner visas have generally increased over the years. Only a few years ago there was a program for “decision ready applications” that saw some visas approved in a matter of days, where as current processing times can vary from 8 to 18 months depending upon where you are and your circumstances.
The final significant trend has been the increase in application fees over the last 10 years – resulting in a tripling or quadrupling of the application fee in the last 10 years.
Whilst this has not been warmly received by applicants nor migration agents, it has resulted in applicants being more considered and thorough in the initial lodgement of their application than has been the case in the past. Mistakes and delays, when you spend a significant amount of money, aren’t appreciated.
If it is any solace all Partner visa application fees are now the same. This was not always the case, with offshore and onshore application fees differing by a significant amount.

PROSPECTIVE SPOUSE

The fees for a Prospective Spouse, a visa that you can only apply for outside Australia, are also consistent with the all these partner visas.
For Prospective spouse visas the key change, again, is the processing times. So again while the core requirements have not changed, applicants still need to marry their fiance within 9 months of having their visa granted. These lengthier processing times though have resulted in applicants being more considered in how they plan for their wedding and ultimately their move to Australia. Flexibility, and openness to accept changes may need to be made to your plans is important.

Partner, Parent & Family visas

CHILD VISA

For applicants that apply for Child visas, these have remained relatively stable over recent years. The applicant must be the child of an Australian as well as be either be under 18 years of age, or under 25 and a full-time student or is unable to work due to a disability and is dependent on their parent.
With regards to changes, like most visa subclasses, fees and processing times have generally increased, so applicants, or parents of applicants need to be aware of this. If you are considering a Child visa application, you need to first consider whether a Citizenship by Descent application may be more relevant. Australian Citizenship is generally a quicker, less expensive and ultimately and ultimately significantly better outcome than the permanent residency that you obtain as a Child visa holder.

 

Partner visas, Parent visas

Partner visas, Parent visas

PARENT VISA

For applicants who have children in Australia they can consider one of the Parent visa options. The simpler, more straight forward option is to apply for a Parent visa.
To apply for this, the applicant/s must be sponsored by a child that is settled in Australia and they must be able to meet the “balance of family test”.
To satisfy this test the applicant/s must be able to show that at least half of their children or more of their children, reside in Australia than anywhere else. Along with meeting health & character requirements it seems like it is too good to be true, which it is unfortunately. The drawback is that it has a lengthy waiting time, approximately 30 years at present.

CONTRIBUTORY PARENT

The quicker visa option for a parent who meets the above is the Parent Contributory visa. The significant difference is that the applicant/s
must be willing to pay a higher application fee that that of a Parent visa application to cover future medical costs.
The fee at present is a minimum (there are a couple of different visa options) of $43,600 AUD each applicant. This fee, in addition to a 10 year assurance of support bond of $10,000 AUD, or $14,000 if there are 2 applicants, makes it a costly exercise.
However, as the vis processing can be reduced to between 12 and 24 months, the reality is that this is the only practical and definitive visa option used by applicants form this par too the world, especially when there is the added hurdle of capped visa numbers for the Parent Contributory visa each year.

REMAINING RELATIVE

The final visa that I will discuss is the Remaining Relative visa. This visa is for an applicant (and their partner/spouse) that has no other near relatives – parents, siblings, children – residing outside Australia.
Your application must be sponsored by an eligible near relative and you must meet health & character requirements. Based on the criteria it can be a difficult visa to be eligible for and for those that are, there are further issues as the this visa is also capped in numbers.
In fact in in 2011 there was a reduction in the number of places available of 70 per cent. Since this time the number of places has dropped again, including the current financial year of 2015-16. This is exacerbated by the fact it also competed for places with other visas, not detailed here, such as Carer Visas and Aged Dependent visas.

Considering some of the information outlined above there are a few key takeaways. Firstly, the level of difficulty in applying for one of these visas doesn’t always depend on your personal circumstances and your ability to provide the evidence and documentation required to meet the criteria.
Secondly, you need to be patient and organised. Delays will likely occur in some circumstances and you need to be wary of these.
Finally, planning your visa application and for the visa process itself, is more important than ever. This may mean that you bring forward the timing of the visas, or it may mean that you consider where you are when you apply, be it in Australia or outside Australia.
Then there are the associated matters of moving – schools, housing, employment…. The list goes on. At the very least, keeping on eye on what is happening, or appointing a qualified person to do that for you is more important than ever.

Mark Welch is a registered migration agent and director of Cargil Migration, which provide Australian immigration services to Australia from the UK. For more information visit www.cargilmigration.com .

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What our clients say about us …..

We love receiving feedback about our Australian immigration services. Below is a selection of some of these.

Testimonial
Mark, Skilled Migration, Cambridge

I just wanted to mention we used Mark and he was fantastic. He guided us through the processes very efficiently, via email and phone and reassured us every step of the way. We started on 26th December and we delayed it on purpose for a few months during spring as we thought we may need to give ourselves more time, he happily helped us with when to delay, then when things changed and we wanted to get everything done ASAP he immediately helped us get everything in immediately.

If anyone is looking for an agent, do get in touch with him. I was very happy with his service.

Jaclyn, Skilled Migration, Edinburgh

I would like to have the opportunity to say how impressed I am with the service you have provided. As I said, I have no doubt that the whole process ran smoothly and that my application was able to progress as efficiently as it did because of all the work that you put into it.

I would also like to thank you for your ongoing, very prompt communication which led to me feeling really well informed of what was happening and what would happen next, as well as being provided with very clear guidance and support from you. I found that it reduced a level of stress from the whole process, for which I am especially thankful and I know Justin would also pass on his thanks – as it also helped him to know that I wasn’t struggling through it all on my own.

I am sure that I will end up contacting you again in the future and I would not hesitate to recommend your company – I found your professionalism and genuine helpfulness a great assistance throughout it all. It is definitely an exciting new chapter!

Paul, Skilled Migration, Glasgow

Mark was invaluable during my successful visa application. He provided clear guidance throughout the process, which I’m sure would have taken me much longer on my own.

Sean, Partner Migration, Brisbane

When faced with the challenge of my British partner and unborn child having to leave Australia, and uncertainty over visa eligibility Mark came to the rescue, explaining, simplifying and guiding us through each step, making a daunting process stressless. Mark made sure our application had the best chance possible and our visa was approved without any delays. We couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome and would not hesitate to recommend Mark, for any immigration services. Thank-you Mark for helping keep our family together.

Barry, Business Migration, Edinburgh & Melbourne

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Professor John Shields, The University of Sydney Business School

“Re: Appreciation for your support for the Business School’s educational mission…International Dimensions of Human Resource Management”

University of Sydney acknowledgement letter

To discuss how we can assist you, please Contact Us.

Where your Australian journey starts…

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Cargil Migration Services

Cargil Migration services

Australian immigration services

ASSESSMENT | ADVICE | ASSISTANCE

With over a decade of experience, providing Australian immigration services from both within Australia and in the UK and Europe, we have your bases covered.

We specialise in assisting individuals, families, investors, and businesses obtain visas for Australia. Please get in touch if you want to discuss:

  • Studying in Australia
  • Business & Investor Migration
  • Partner & Family Migration
  • Skilled Migration
  • Employer Sponsored Migration
  • Parent Migration
  • Your long term pathway to Australia

Contact:

Mark Welch, Director

cargilmigration.com

Email: mark@cargilmigration.com, Phone: 07710 649 194

 

Migration Agents Registration Number

Mark Welch – Australian Registered Migration Agent

Australian immigration seminars – September 2015

FREE SEMINAR SERIES

Edinburgh – 1st September, 2015

Birmingham – 2nd September, 2015

London – 7th September, 2015

Australian Migration & Education Seminars

Australian Seminar Series

  • Are you interested in migrating to Australia?
  • Would you like to study in Australia?
  • Do you want to find out if there are any pathways to live and work in Australia?

If you are looking to migrate or study in Australia be sure not to miss this free seminar. The seminar will be run by industry professionals and cover everything that you need to know about migrating, studying, living and working in Australia.

The seminar will be presented by industry experts and cover a wide range of topics including:

  • Why you should consider Queensland as a destination
  • Different Visa Options to Australia & Queensland
  • Using study as a pathway to residency
  • Different Queensland Course Options (University, Vocational, Trade, Highschool). What can you study?
  • Queensland lifestyle
  • Specific Education Providers
  • Study Requirements
  • Costs of study
  • Banking
  • Foreign Exchange

 

For more information on these Australian immigration seminars please get in touch by email mark@cargilmigration.com or register your attendance using the link below.

REGISTER FOR SEMINARS

The presenters will include: Trade & Investment Queensland, Pathway to Aus, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Cargil Migration.

Should I apply for an employer sponsored visa or an australian skilled visa?

When I get queries about Australian skilled visas I often get asked whether they should apply for an employer sponsored visa or an Australian skilled independent visa. For some, because of their occupation, they only can get a visa through a job offer. For others they can look at both.

I have touched on some of these issues in other blogs that I have written however the purpose of this blog is to look at some of the issues in a bit more detail.

Decisions

Should I apply for an Employer Sponsored Visa or a General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa?

To provide a framework for the points I have raised, when discussing Employer Sponsored Visas this will include:

  • Temporary residents (Subclass 457) Work visa
  • Permanent residents (Subclass 186) Employer Nomination Scheme visa.

When referring to skilled independent visa this will include the following General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas:

  • Permanent residents Skilled Independent (Subclass 189) visa
  • Permanent residents Skilled Nominated (Subclass 190) visa
  • Temporary residents Skilled Regional (Subclass 489) visa

Visa costs

Whether applying for a skilled independent visa or an employer sponsored visa there are some costs involved. If you are applying for a skilled independent visa these costs are up to you.

When applying for a temporary employer sponsored visa, the Subclass 457 visa, the fees are usually borne by the employer. In fact employers are obligated to not pass on the visa costs to you.

However this applies only for the subclass 457 visa so if you want to obtain a permanent residents visa (which gives you the right to stay) then you generally need to look at an independent visa or a employer sponsored visa like the Subclass 186.

If you apply for the Subclass 186 visa then there are no restrictions from employers to pass the costs onto you. It is however common for employers to at least share or pay these costs. However to avoid employees leaving their employment as soon as their permanent residency is approved they usually ask the employee to sign an agreement that means costs of the visa and the migration agent/lawyer fees will be clawed back if you leave within a period of time. This is often a two year period.

Healthcare

Skilled independent visas and permanent employer sponsored Subclass 186 visas enable the applicants to be covered under Medicare, which gives you access to the Australian healthcare system.

On a temporary residents Subclass 457 visa you and your family are required to hold private health cover as an ongoing condition of your visa. Although the responsibility is for you to maintain this, some employers will offer support and may actually provide this to you.

Education

For people who hold a skilled independent visa or a permanent employer sponsored visa your children will be eligible to enrol in the public school system.

If you are in Australia on a temporary employer sponsored Subclass 457 visa then you may be required to pay fees for children to attend public school. This however will be dependent upon the state that you live in. Employers may be willing to assist with paying school fees but as a starting point it is important to understand what the policy is in the the state that you intend to live and work in.

Work rights

As the holder of a skilled independent visa the main applicant is not restricted in who they can work for, or where they do it. However for the Subclass 190 visa or Subclass 489 these are granted on the basis of living in a particular state that has a need for your skills or because you have relations in that state or region. It is important that you understand the terms of your nomination or sponsorship and adhere to these.

If you have a permanent employer sponsored Subclass 186 visa then there are no restrictions as such to what you do. However as mentioned the employer may ask for fees to be repaid should you leave within a specified period of time.

If you are granted a Subclass 457 visa then the key condition is that you must remain employed with that sponsoring employer. Otherwise you are in breach of your visa and either need to leave the country or make arrangements to apply for another visa to allow you to stay.

Spouse work rights

Under all visas detailed here your partner has work rights.

Location

Under the Subclass 457 visa you are sponsored to work in a particular role for a particular employer in a specific location. You must ensure, along with your employer, that this remains the case. Otherwise you will need to make alternate arrangements to change the conditions of your visa. The permanent employer sponsored subclass 186 visa will not restrict your location, notwithstanding the issues detailed previously.

As mentioned previously in the skilled independent visas available the Subclass 190 and 489 will restrict you to working in a particular location unlike the Subclass 189. To change location without seeking the appropriate authorisation may effect your current visa or your pathway to permanent residency if you have a Subclass 489 visa.

Social Security

In most cases, aside from Medicare coverage. social security benefits are generally available only to permanent residents who have resided in Australia for at least 2 years.

Pathways to Citizenship 

I will address this on two levels. A child will be an Australian citizen if they are born in Australia and either one of their parents is an Australian permanent residents or citizen at their time of their birth.

Otherwise, like everyone else, to become a citizen you need to hold a permanent residents visa for at least 12 months as well as having held an appropriate visa for at least 4 years (this could include a Subclass 457 visa) before you are eligible.

Timescales

The timescales for all of these visa can vary greatly. To be granted a subclass 457 is usually the quickest way to obtain the right to work and live in Australia, however it is the permanent residency visa that will allow you to stay in the long term and depending on which one of the numerous pathways the you take it can be difficult to be certain of timescales.

What should you do?

If you have options then this is completely up to you. However a skilled independent visa (notably the Subclass 189 visa), as I have written about previously, is certainly the best option.

If you however any questions, or further areas you would like me to address, please let me know and I will be happy to answer them. mark@cargilmigration.com

Ticket to the World – Australian visa options

I recently had an opportunity to write an article for @TeamPlayer360, a monthly newspaper covering Recruitment, Jobs, HR and Careers distributed across Edinburgh and London. The article has recently been published and is reproduced below.

The article provides an overview of Australian visa options for skilled professionals, businesses and investors.

Australian visa options

Australian immigration

Ticket to the World: Australian visa options for individuals & businesses

In a word of increasing skilled shortages, your qualifications and skills can be a ticket to see the world. This is especially so when it comes to working or migrating to Australia.

Whilst modern Australia was built on a combination of both skilled workers and unskilled labour – the majority of which were people on a one way ticket from the UK, Ireland and Europe – this is not the case anymore.

The focus is now well and truly on skilled individuals. Individuals who are qualified and have experience in high demand occupations such as engineering, healthcare, information technology, trades, accounting and professional services. It is no coincidence that these occupations remain in high demand around the world and it is these professions that are driving an increasingly global mobile workforce.

However if you fall outside these high demand occupations this does not necessarily rule you out completely as Australia has a myriad of visa options. If you have some qualifications and professional experience it may be just about assessing yourself against the options, and then putting into place the pieces of jigsaw to get the result you are after.

For the lucky few the golden ticket is usually being eligible for a skilled independent visas. Skilled independent visas are, in general, for people under 50 years old and work in one of the occupations above. These visas allow an individual and their family to arrive as permanent residents – the stepping stone to Australia citizen – and to access great majority of public services that Australians can such as healthcare and schools. And there is not even an requirement that you need to work in the skill that got you there.

For those that fall outside the skilled independent options, the past decade has seen an increasing focus on the States and Territories of Australia having a greater say on would be migrants. They are given some degree of autonomy to attract people with skills that aren’t necessarily in shortage nationally but are specifically in their state or regional area within. So while there may be little opportunity for people in occupations in your desired city, there may be elsewhere.

Close relations in Australia – siblings, Parents, Uncles/Aunty’s, Parents – can also in some circumstances have a positive effect on a visa application. This family support can often be the difference between moving there or not.

When none of the above fits your circumstances there may be opportunities for you through employer sponsored visas. When a recruiter picks up the phone to speak to you about roles in Australia, it is usually on one of these visas that they will you be employed. Employer Sponsored visas allows for skilled individuals to obtain work visas as long as you remain with that employer. So while it does come at the cost of some flexibility, compared to the independent visas it also often comes with the advantage of an income upon arrival. There are also other benefits that may be added – primarily depending on human resources policy – such as housing, relocation, annual return flights home and other incentives. Whilst the heady days of benefits that were handed out pre GFC no longer exist anything offered can be the difference between going or staying. At this stage understanding the tax ramifications of accepting an offer, both home and abroad is imperative. Although as this is an expensive business there may be clawback arrangements in place to repay some costs should you leave employment within a specified period of time.

Whilst employer sponsored visa are usually a temporary residency option it often a pathway to permanent residency. Whilst accurate figures are hard to find it is often suggested that 80% progress to permanent residency. This shows the appeal of a strong economy and an enviable lifestyle. It is also a reflection of the trend of successive governments supporting employer sponsored migration.

For anyone who falls short of meeting any of the above visa there may be some alternate options. The working holiday program allows most EU citizens under 31 to experience 12-24 months working in Australia. Whilst this can be the great backpacking adventure of a life, it can also provide opportunities to experience living and undertaking work in Australia and can then lead onto other visas such as employer sponsored visas or even partner visas. It remains the ultimate try before you buy option.

Finally, where all else fails, there are significant advantages offered to those who may want to stay permanently in Australia if they undertake study in a recognised skill shortage area. This is best reflected by the fact that Australia has the 4th largest market in the world for foreign students in tertiary education.

However it is not all about skilled individuals and employees. For successful investors or business owners that desire to relocate permanently to Australia, there are pathways via the business skills program. This program allows innovative and entrepreneurial people to either set up or buy a business or make investments in approved funds or businesses.

Finally for those business owners looking to expand their business or to service new contracts in Australia there are pathways for you to facilitate this and to offer your employees an opportunity to change their life. The criteria for this is not always straight forward and involves compliance with a wide range of law – covering corporate, tax and employment law to name a few – however they allow a business to establish themselves from the beginning with the right foundations for long term success. There have also been concessions made for contract and project workers to enter into the country for work. A reflection of the growth and significance of the resources boom that has helped Australia to not have a recession in 23 years. The only developed country in the world to claim this.

So whether it is permanently or temporarily those people with the the right skills or desire can usually find a pathway for themselves. It may be easy for some compared to others but with planning and patience and the right advice it is achievable.

Leadership, infrastructure & immigration

Build it and they will come

Leadership, infrastructure and immigration

Leadership, infrastructure & immigration

Last week I had the pleasure of attending an Australian Business Leaders Lunch put on by Australian Business In Europe and the Commonwealth Bank.

To say it was a worthwhile experience would be an understatement. It was a great chance to meet and network with a number of prominent and influential Australian business people in Europe and to meet a number of senior executives at some significant Australian businesses that have offices based in London.

Although the lunch was a relaxed affair as with any of these types of lunches there were a number of guest speakers. In particular there were two primate Australians, namely Alexander Downer the former Australian Foreign Minister and the current Australian High Commissioner to the UK as well as Sir David Higgins the Chairman of High Speed Two (HS2) – the company responsible for developing and promoting the UK’s high speed rail network – and previously responsible for the delivery of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Alexander Downer spoke about a number of issues and the focus of his current role. Primarily he stressed the importance of Australia continuing to have close business relationships with the UK, despite Australia’s growing business reliance on China and India for trade. He noted that the relationship between Australia and the UK had changed over the years and that the UK had gone from being Australia’s largest trading partner to at present being the 7th largest trading partner.

However Alexander Downer did stress that despite this drop the UK was still the 2nd largest source of direct foreign investment in the country and it was imperative that this was maintained and managed effectively. In term of the industries he pinpointed Infrastructure as being a key way of doing this. That developing and opening collaboration between the countries and businesses in this area was essential for both countries.

Sir David Higgins in his address continued along this vein. He noted in recent years his career had focussed on developing and managing infrastructure projects and he stressed the potential infrastructure projects can have in regenerating deprived areas. This he said was a key element in obtaining additional funds for building the infrastructure required for the London 2012 Olympics and which ultimately resulted in the regeneration of parts of East London. Regeneration was also seen as a significant benefit in delivering a high speed rail network. he commented that it provided a chance to redress some of the imbalances between London and other parts of the country. Whilst the logistics and plans for the project where not covered in any great detail the example given was that the time taken for a trip between London, Birmingham & Manchester would effectively be halved. Therefore this may start to address some of the imbalances between London and outside London. These examples were best represented by the fact that the Top 100 listed companies by value on the London Sock exchange had their headquarters in London, that for every £1 spent outside of London on transport networks there are £10 spent in London and the significant difference in property values between London and the vast majority of the UK.

When questioned about his thoughts on infrastructure in Australia, like in the UK, he again stressed the importance of continued development. In particular he said Australian cities needed to ensure they develop road and transport links in cities such as Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney especially as they grow. He also credited Perth as a city that had made the most progress in regards to this.

From an Australian immigration perspective his comments reflect what we have seen in immigration policy over the last decade and more. That the infrastructure industry and those associated with it were in continual demand and will remain so for the foreseeable future. This has been reflected in my experience since 2002 whether working in either individual or corporate immigration. Along with healthcare, IT and professional services I have assisted and advised more engineers, tradespeople and businesses associated with the infrastructure industry – such as infrastructure investment companies – than any other. It seems that it still proves to provide opportunities all over the world whether as a skilled individual, business owner or investor.

Australian Business Leaders Lunch

Australian Business Leaders Lunch