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On 6 October 2020, the Treasurer, Hon Josh Frydenberg MP delivered the Budget Speech 2020-2021 in Parliament. On the same date, the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon Peter Dutton MP and the Acting Minister for Immigration Hon Alan Tudge MP announced that there would be major changes to Australia’s migration program.

The Morrison Government’s view is that a carefully managed Migration Program forms an important part of Australia’s economic recovery. Carefully managed, the program can bring jobs and bring high value investment to help Australia recover from the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Migration Program is set annually, and for the year 2020 to 2021, the number of places will be capped at 160,000. There will be a strong focus on the Global Talent Independent Program (‘GTI’) and the Business Innovation and Investment Programs (‘BII’), with these two programs set to have the number of allocations increased by 200% and by 96% respectively. Interestingly, there is also an increase in the number of allocations for the Family Visa Program from 47,732to 77,300, with 72,300 of those places taken up by Partner Visas.

Changes to the Partner Migration Program

As part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to combatting family violence, especially violence against women and children, two main changes will be implemented. They are:

  1. The extension of the family sponsorship framework to Partner Visas; and
  2. The introduction of an English Language requirement for Partner Visa Applicants and sponsors who are Australian permanent residents.

Legislation for the family sponsorship framework was assented to on 10 December 2018 and has been implemented for the Temporary Parent Visas (subclass 870), but has not yet been implemented for Partner Visas. Once implemented, this would involve character checks for the sponsor and the sharing of personal information with the applicant, as well as enforceable sponsorship obligations.

Those familiar with the application process for a Temporary Parent Visa would know that the family member (such as the child or spouse of the child) must be approved as a family sponsor first before the applicant can apply for a Temporary Parent Visa. It is unclear how this process would be managed for onshore applicants for a Partner Visa given the tight time frames to lodge a Partner Visa application.

To complement the family sponsorship framework and further support integration and access to key services, the Government will introduce an English language requirement for Partner Visa Applicants and sponsors who are Australian permanent residents. At this stage, this requirement is intended to apply from mid-2021 and will be implemented at the second stage of the partner visa. Both the applicant and the sponsor, if they are Australian permanent residents need to show that they have a functional level of English, or “or to have at least made reasonable efforts to learn English.” It is unclear whether any exceptions to this rule apply.

If you intend to apply for a Partner Visa, or if you wish to sponsor your spouse or de facto partner for a Partner Visa and want to know how these changes may affect you or your spouse or partner, please contact Kah Lawyers on (02) 9689 3173 for a telephone or video conference.


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Disclaimer: This information is current at the time of publication and subject to change. The contents of this blog post is provided for general information only and Kah Lawyers does not accept any liability for any damages suffered by persons who relied on this information. This information does not constitute legal advice and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice.