IMPACT – MEDIUM

The Government has announced that it will extend to three years the period during which newly arrived migrants will be barred from accessing certain welfare benefits. The Government will also increase to three years the period during which applicants for family visas must have an assurance of financial support.

Key points:

  • From 1 July 2018, newly arrived migrants will have to wait three years (up from two) before becoming eligible for family tax benefits, paid parental leave and carers allowances for those providing care to family members who have a disability, seriousness illness or are aged.
  • From 1 July 2018, applicants for family visas will have to demonstrate that they have access to financial support for at least three years after arriving in Australia. The current requirement is two years.
  • Exemptions will be made for vulnerable groups. New Zealand nationals who hold Special Category Visas and have dependent children will be exempt for the waiting period for family tax benefits and paid parental leave. The Government will also provide a short-term exemption for newly arrived migrants who would have otherwise been eligible for paid parental leave benefits between 1 July 2018 and 31 December 2018.

Background: The changes were announced in the Government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, which was released earlier this month. The Government estimates it will save A$1.4 billion by extending the waiting period for welfare benefits from two to three years.

BAL Analysis: Extending the waiting period before migrants can access welfare benefits is expected to save money, but could be a deterrent for those considering relocating to Australia. The new financial assurance requirement, meanwhile, will make applying for family visas slightly more difficult.