The Federal Budget announced a raft of new changes to immigration policy on the 9 May 2017. Whilst most of these changes will not take place immediately, you should begin thinking about how this affects you.
Temporary Sponsored Parent visa
The new temporary sponsored parent visa will be introduced in November 2017, with 15,000 visas to be made available annually. This visa will allow the temporary stay of sponsored parents in Australia for periods of up to three or five years. The visa may be renewed from outside Australia to allow a cumulative stay of up to ten years.
Temporary sponsored parent visa holders will not be eligible to apply onshore for a permanent parent visa. The visa holder’s sponsor, their Australian child, will have legal liability for any public health expenditure (including aged care arrangements) incurred by the visa holder in Australia.
The Department will undertake a review of this new visa at the end of the first program year.
* Existing contributory and non-contributory parent visas will remain unchanged and open to new applicants.
Age Pension and Disability Support Pension (DSP) eligibility
From 1 July 2018, stricter residency rules for new migrants to access Australian pensions will be introduced. Claimants will be required to have 15 years of continuous Australian residence before being eligible to receive the Age Pension or DSP unless they have either:
- 10 years continuous Australian residence, with five years of this residence being during their working life (16 years of age to Age Pension age); or
- 10 years continuous Australian residence, without having received an activity tested income support payment for a cumulative period of five years.
- Existing exemptions for DSP applicants who acquire their disability in Australia will continue to apply.
A Foreign Investors Tax Levy of $5000 per year will be imposed on foreign investors who do not occupy or lease their Australian properties for at least 6 months of the year.
The Government will extend Australia’s foreign resident capital gains tax (CGT) regime by:
- denying foreign and temporary tax residents access to the CGT main residence exemption from 7:30PM (AEST) on 9 May 2017, however existing properties held prior to this date will be grandfathered until 30 June 2019
- increasing the CGT withholding rate for foreign tax residents from 10.0 per cent to 12.5 per cent, from 1 July 2017
- reducing the CGT withholding threshold for foreign tax residents from $2 million to $750,000, from 1 July 2017
The Government will also apply the principal asset test on an associate inclusive basis from 7:30PM (AEST) on 9 May 2017, for foreign tax residents with indirect interests in Australian real property. This will ensure foreign tax residents will not be able to avoid a CGT liability by disaggregating indirect interests in Australian real property.
The number of refugee resettlement places will increase by 2,500 to a total of 16,250 places in the 2017-18 programme.
In addition, the Community Support Programme will be expanded to offer 1000 sponsored refugee resettlement places. This programme enables individuals, groups and businesses to sponsor humanitarian entrants to Australia. Sponsors will be required to support humanitarian entrants during their first year in Australia, including funding the visa application, airfares and settlement services, and refunding any working age payments made to the humanitarian entrant.
All permanent humanitarian visa holders, including Community Support Programme entrants, will continue to have access to Medicare, English language tuition and employment services (if eligible).
An additional $21.2 million will be allocated in 2017-18 to continue regional processing and resettlement arrangements. This includes funding to support the closure of the Manus Island facility in Papua New Guinea, and of regional processing activities in Nauru
Savings of $46.8 million will be achieved over the five years from 2016-17 by resolving the protection status of Illegal Maritime Arrivals (IMAs).