English Test Requirement for Partner Visa
The Australian Federal Budget announcement was delayed until 6 October 2020 as the government was preoccupied with handling the Coronavirus Pandemic, and it has greatly affected Australian family visas.
The budget predicted that net overseas migration for 2020 – 2021 will be reduced to 71,200, compared to 154,000 in 2019 – 2020. It is the first reduction of net overseas migration since 1946. The numbers are then expected to then increase gradually to approximately 201,000 by 2023 – 2024.
Partner Visa and Family Migration Program Levels to Increase
The overall migration program planning level will remain at 160,000 for the year 2020 – 2021, however the allocation for family visas will temporarily increase from 47,732 to 77,300.
This means that more partner visas will be granted in the year 2020 – 2021, which will assist to clear the backlog of applications which is estimated to be over 100,000. Unfortunately, it also means that the number of parent visas granted in 2020 – 2021 will be reduced from previous years, most likely due to the fact that parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents are not eligible for an exemption from Australia’s border restrictions.
The budget estimates that 3000 child visas will be granted in 2020 – 2021, however child visas are not subject to a ceiling like other family visas are.
English Test Requirement for Partner Visas and Changes to Family Visa Requirements
The Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2018 received royal assent on 10 December 2018, however most of the changes are yet to come into effect. The changes will take force sometime in 2020 -2021 and will include the following:
- The government will require an Australian citizen or permanent resident sponsor of a Partner visa applicant to be assessed against character and sponsorship obligations and approved before a visa application can be made.
- An English language requirement will be introduced to the partner visa program.
The above mean that partner visa sponsors must first be approved in their own right before the applicant can lodge a visa application and that partner visa applicants will need to demonstrate their English language ability.
Obligations for Approved Family Sponsors and Character Checks.
In addition to the English language requirement of Partner Visa, it has been confirmed that the mandatory family sponsorship provisions for Partner visas will be implemented, requiring character checks and sharing of personal information with the applicant, as well as enforceable sponsorship obligations.
The Department of Home Affairs have recently announced the consequences for the failure to meet the English language requirements or satisfy the independent sponsorship criteria.
These recent announcements have no doubt added stress for both applicants and sponsors, and created new doubt for applicants of settling in Australia due to insufficient English language skills. Acting Immigration Minister, Alan Tudge, assured that this new requirement is not designed to hinder the ability of foreigners to migrate to Australia, but rather to assist with their ‘social and economic cohesion’. It is likely that the new changes will commence in late 2021.
Sanctions for Sponsors failed Obligations.
The Department of Home Affairs will have the authority to share personal information with the applicant regarding the sponsor, including their criminal record if applicable as an initiative of the government to strengthen the Partner visa program.
The group most affected by this change are the onshore Partner applicants. After changes take effect, no onshore applications can be lodged last-minute with the intention of receiving an immediate bridging visa.
If the sponsorship is not approved upon the expiration of the visa, visa applicants may have to consider other visa options to remain in the country.
What will the Recent Partner Visa requirement look like?
The changes likely mean that sponsors must submit an application seeking approval prior to lodging the Partner Visa application. The visa applicant must also provide evidence of functional English prior to approval to meet this requirement.
What if you fail the English test for Partner Visa?
The final legislative instrument for the English language requirement has not been published. It is unclear whether applicants will be provided with additional time to complete an English test.
It is a time-sensitive exercise to lodge a partner visa application and with these measures set to take effect in the near future, it is imperative that applicants utilise their time more cautiously.
To ensure you remain within the deadline, it is advisable to organise your sponsorship approval and English language test well prior to lodgement.
If you have any questions or are planning to lodge a partner visa in the near future, please contact