Citizenship Australia

Citizenship Laws in Australia are rumored to be changing, but it may not pass with full steam. The new law is the The Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017, included are the following proposed changes:

  • Increase the residence wait period from 1 year to 4 years
  • Needing to pass an IELTS with a band score of 6 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • Signing a values statement
  • Harder citizenship test, which also includes questions about domestic violence

There are a few reasons why these proposed changes may not eventuate.

  • Parliament need to pass a bill, and for this bill to become an Act. Only until this happens, will the changes take effect.
  • For the bill to pass, enough politicians need to vote in favour of it.
  • Labour is not voting in favour, especially concerning the extra waiting period, or the IELTS requirement.
  • Lobbying has begun, with some parties having more than 12,000 signatures against the proposed changes.
  • A lot of public backlash, and pressure on politicians to make the right decision

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection have 81,000 applications since the changes were introduced on 20 April 2017; and they are not processing these changes until the Bill is finalised. While Immigration say that 90% of Citizenship Applications are processed within 13 months, we expect this to be extended (Immigration update the global processing times every 2 weeks).

We are advising everyone who is eligible under the current laws to apply now. The worst that can happen is the laws do change, and your application is rejected. The application fee is nominal at around $265. However, if the laws are not changed, or changed but not to the full extent, you will benefit by obtaining citizenship quicker.

You can contact us to discuss these proposed changes, and the viability of applying for citizenship now.

Changes to Occupation Lists – IMMI

Immigration have changed the occupations lists, and it effects applications already lodged… but why?

In law, there are different types of authority. Their is the Migration Act (Cth). This is a commonwealth piece of legislation, and requires the federal government to pass a bill for changes. WE can then go down the line to what is called an instrument. An instrument is also a federal piece of legislation, but it does not require a bill for it to be changed. Instead, a federal minister can update and change these bills as he or she wishes.

This is what has happened to the occupation lists. While a 457 visa refers to an instrument, it is this instrument that has been changed on short notice, and is retrospective. This means that it affects past applications already lodged, but not yet granted.

While it is unfair, it seems that this is indeed lawful. As an employee, or an employer, you now have the task of identifying new avenues available to obtain, or keep your visa in Australia. For occupations, you will find that their are analagous/similar occupations on the list.

We are able to brainstorm your options. You can contact us on 07 55 38 3870. We look forward to working with you.

VETASSESS have priority processing from 1 August 2017

Vetassess are introducing a priority processing for general occupations beginning on 1 August 2017. This will only apply to new occupations and it appears you may need to have reasons to ask for priority, along with paying the extra fee. This is great news as it provides visa applicants and employers a fast track method and quicker result on your skills assessment. This means less time waiting on a bridging visa and more time in the queue waiting for your temporary or permanent visa.

For those looking to apply for a 190 visa you should consider the priority processing. In this way, you can enter the invitation line sooner, and before the influx of all the others that are waiting the usual 3 months for a skills assessment with VETASSESS.

Working Holiday Visa 417 – Age Increase

On 1 July 2017, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection announced positive changes to the Working Holiday Visa (417). This visa allows people from certain countries to come and stay in Australia for one year, with the option to extend their stays again on this visa for another year.

Previously, the age limit was 30. It is now being increased for certain countries (unknown as yet), to 35.

The other standard requirements will remain in place. As an overview, these include:

  • Have not previously entered Australia on a 462 Visa.
  • Are a genuine Visitor
  • Not be accompanied by any of your dependent children
  • Have enough funds (around $5,000 will suffice)
  • Are at least 18, but younger than 31
  • Have a passport from one of the specified countries

To obtain the second working holiday visa (the extension), you need to complete three months of specified work while on your first working holiday visa. You also need to continue to comply with your visa conditions (such as the 6 month employer restriction).

This is a low cost visa, that allows young people to stay in Australia, experience Australia and use this time working towards their permanent visa application.

If you would like advice and guidance on this visa, please do not hesitate to contact us.

New Zealand Visa

New Zealand Citizens have recently been one of the winners following the implementation of a new permanent visa. This is not a points tested visa. Instead, if you can prove that you received a minimum taxable income for 4 out of 5 years, you are eligible to apply for this visa (among other requirements). There are exemptions to the taxable income requirement in circumstances of parenting orders, or disability.

Other requirements are the residence. You need to have been resident in Australia for 5 years before 19 February 2017.

Minimum Amount of Income:

2011-2012 is $49 330

2012-2013 is $51 400

2013-2014 is $53 900

2014-2015 is $53 900

2015-2016 is $53 900

2016-2017 is $53 900

We are happy to provide further guidance on your eligibility. You can contact us on 07 55 38 38 70 or at info@evenlegal.com.au

Age Requirement for Visa Applications

Since the changes on 1 July 2017, there have been a number of changes to the age limits for visa applications. Below, we have outlined these age limits for some of the most popular visas.

Visitor Visa            No age limit

Student Visa          No age limit, but beware of being a genuine student

Partner Visa           No age limit.

189 Visa                  45 age limit at time of invitation

190 Visa                 45 age limit at time of invitation

457 Visa                 No age limit, but beware, you will not be able to transition to the permanent stage.

186 DE Visa          45 age limit at time of application

186 TRT Visa        50 age limit at time of application

187 DE Visa           45 age limit at time of application

187 TRT Visa        45 age limit at time of application

Visa Processing Times

How long will your visa take to process?

This is a question that is asked a lot. The primary party responsible is the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. However, you as a visa applicant and us as migration agents and lawyers are able to ensure that you are assessed quickly and efficiently.

Immigration have a standard processing timeframe for all visa applications. It is available on the following link: https://www.border.gov.au/about/access-accountability/service-standards/global-visa-citizenship-processing-times

Things to help improve the processing of your visa application include:

  • Uploading all documents at the time of application.
  • Upload all documents required at time of decision as well. You do not need to wait.
  • Provide an overview of the documents you have lodged. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection are humans just like the rest of us. If we can make their job easier and quicker, in turn your visa will be processed quicker.
  • Label your documents, and upload them to the correct location.
  • If you are unsure about a missing document, ask us.
  • Provide all of the documents required for your visa application. If Immigration make a request for further documents, this will delay the application by at least 28 days.
  • Follow up the the Department of Immigration only if your application falls outside the standard processing times.
  • Do not send emails concerning the status, unless it falls outside the standard processing times.

Tax implications for spousal payments

If you are receiving spousal maintenance, you should consider the tax consequences of these payments. Ordinarily, payments that you receive from your ex-partner that come within the definition, are exempt from tax.

The Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, section 51.50 states the requirements to for the payments to be exempt from tax (i.e no tax needs to be paid, as it is not assessable income).

The requirements are:

  1. The payment is made to an individual who is or has been the maintenance payer’s spouse;
  2. to or for the benefit of an individual who is or has been:
    1. child of the maintenance payer; or
    2. a child who is or has been a child of an individual who is or has been a * spouse of the maintenance payer.
  3. The maintenance payment is not exempt if, in order to make it or a payment to which it is attributable, the maintenance payer:
    1. divested any income-producing assets; or
    2. diverted * ordinary income or * statutory income upon which the maintenance payer would otherwise have been liable to income tax.

Essentially, if you are receiving spousal maintenance in the ordinary course of things, it is exempt. If however, the spousal maintenance is paid above what is normally required in an attempt to minimse tax, this is tax avoidance which can be penalised, as well as the payments no longer being tax exempt.