Will these trends affect future Partner visa applications to Australia from the Philippines?

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Will these trends affect future Partner visa applications to Australia from the Philippines?


 

Citizens of the United Kingdom who wish to sponsor partners must meet income requirements and this regularly leads to stories like that below:

http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20160525-the-newlyweds-with-no-country-to-call-home

A bill before parliament introducing new rules for family sponsors is likely to be reintroduced after the election, whichever side wins:

It is likely that demonstrating a certain level of income or assets will be one of the criteria that sponsors will have to meet and their character backgrounds will likewise be more scrutinized.

Included in this blog today was the actual second speech made by the minister of immigration dated the 16th of March 2016 for your immediate reference:-

Mr DUTTON (Dickson—Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (09:35): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 amends the Migration Actto introduce an assessable sponsorship framework for family sponsored visas.

Under the current system, sponsorship for family visas is currently assessed as part of the criteria for the grant of a visa. Arrangements vary across family visa products, but under current settings for most visas there is little focus on the character of the sponsor, or responsibility that attaches to their sponsorship.

In all instances under the existing arrangements, sponsors are required to give undertakings, however these are considered to be ‘unenforceable’ because there is no consequence for noncompliance with these undertakings. Generally, these undertakings require the sponsor to assist the visa applicant, to the extent necessary, financially and in relation to accommodation, for two years from the date of grant of the visa or from the applicant’s first entry into Australia as the holder of the visa.

Further, full character checks are a mandatory requirement for all visa applicants, but sponsors are only required to provide police checks when there is a minor child included in the application.

In the sponsored family visa program and in particular, the partner visa category, the lack of focus on sponsors has led to problems with:

  • Sponsors who the department considers to be vulnerable being targeted by visa applicants who are motivated solely on a permanent visa outcome; and
  • Australians who have a violent history, including against family members, being able to sponsor non-citizens without having to disclose details of their past to either the department or other parties to the application.

Currently, all visas in the family stream have a sponsorship requirement as part of the criteria for grant of the visa.  However, claims of family violence in the program and the lack of sponsorship enforcement mechanisms means that government is moving to improve program integrity and to provide more suitable visa options for victims of family violence.

The improvements introduced with this bill will address these shortcomings by extending the sponsorship framework that currently applies to the temporary work sponsored visa program to the family sponsored visa program as well. Amongst other things, this framework requires the assessment and approval of sponsors, imposes statutory obligations on sponsors; provides for civil penalties and administrative sanctions for breaches of sponsorship obligations; and facilitates the sharing of information between relevant parties. This framework consists of two elements:

  1. Provisions in division 3A of part 2 of the act, which provide the necessary heads of power to implement the framework; and
  2. Part 2A of the Migration Regulations, which prescribes details for and in relation to the operation of the framework.

This bill will extend relevant aspects of this sponsorship framework to apply to family sponsored visas in order to:

  • separate sponsorship assessment from the visa application process for family sponsored visas;
  • require the approval of persons as family sponsors before any relevant visa applications are made;
  • impose statutory obligations on persons who are or were approved as family sponsors;
  • provide for sanctions if such obligations are not satisfied;
  • facilitate the sharing of personal information between parties identified in the sponsorship application; and
  • improve the management of family violence where it occurs in the family visa program.

To give effect to this extended framework, amendments will be made to the Migration Regulations to:

  • prescribe details for and in relation to the operation of the framework for family sponsored visas; and
  • make consequential amendments to the existing framework for the temporary sponsored work visa program to reflect new terminology referred to in the bill.

The introduction of an assessable sponsorship framework for family sponsored visas will improve the integrity of the family sponsored visa program as it will:

  • replace the current unenforceable sponsorship framework insofar as it relates to family sponsored visas;
  • place greater emphasis on the assessment and approval of family sponsors;
  • require the approval of persons as family sponsors before any relevant visa applications are made;
  • separate sponsorship assessment from the visa application process to ensure, amongst other thing s, that sponsorship obligations, rather than undertakings, are imposed and enforceable with civil penalties and administrative sanctions;

allow the minister to refuse a sponsors hip application; and cancel and/ or bar a family sponsor where inappropriate use of the program or  serious offences are detected— especially those involving family violence; and improve the sharing of personal information between parties identified in the sponsorship application and the program more generally.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.

May 17, 2016