The Federal government has announced that it is making further changes to the Family visa program in an effort to support applicants who have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the Acting Minister for Immigration, Alan Tudge, the government has been working over recent months to minimise the impact of the pandemic on visa holders and has already introduced a number of arrangements to support those who have been impacted.
Flexibility to remain in Australia
These steps include providing visa holders with the flexibility to remain in Australia, or to continue their visa pathway even if they have been unable to travel due to the current international border restrictions.
In addition to these changes, the Government will allow certain Family visas which have been applied for outside Australia to be granted while the visa applicant is in Australia. This is a temporary concession and will be for people who are in Australia and unable to travel offshore to be granted the visa due to border closures.
The Government estimates the change will benefit about 4,000 visa applicants currently in Australia, predominately Partner applicants.
Changes will be subject to review
Tudge emphasised the changes would be provisional and will be reviewed in line with any changes to Australia’s international travel restrictions.
“These are common sense changes to reduce the impact that the travel restrictions are having on our immigration program,” Tudge said. “Importantly, this will allow a foreign national who is a partner of an Australian citizen to progress their visa, without having to leave the country.
“I know this will be a relief to those Australians who were concerned that their loved one may have to leave the country with no certainty as to when they could return.”
Partner visa places nearly double
These changes are in addition to the Government’s decision to almost double the number of Partner visa places in 2020-21.
It is expected that three-quarters of these visas will go to those already in the country, with the increase in numbers addressing nearly all the present applicants awaiting finalisation of their visa.
The Department of Home Affairs says the temporary concession to allow applicants to remain in Australia to progress their visa will come into effect in early 2021 and apply to the following Family visa subclasses: Partner (subclass 309) visa; Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa; Child (subclass 101) visa; Adoption (subclass 102) visa; Dependent Child (subclass 445) visa.