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Immigration Christmas Scrooge

Posted by Myer on Nov. 8, 2016, 3:58 p.m. in Migration Quota

Immigration Christmas Scrooge

Until recently, Australia has always taken a fairly liberal view as to who could be considered a ‘member of the family unit’ of an applicant. Being a member of the family unit of a main applicant means that family members acquire the same visa that applicants do.

So, a family unit could consist of a mother and father (with the father being the main applicant) and a 25 year old unemployed child living with them, as well as a widowed parent/grandparent living with her main applicant son. In this kind of scenario if her son obtains permanent residence then the whole family obtain permanent residence. 

I have enough experience in the immigration industry to realise that whenever migrants receive a policy “gift” from the Department of Immigration/Minister of Immigration, to immediately wonder what will be taken away; the department often gives with one hand and takes with the other. Therefore, when I recently heard that the Minister would be granting a long-term 5-year Visitor Visa for parents of permanent residents of Australia in July 2017, I wondered what the quid pro quo would be. 

Late last week I found out the answer; namely that from 19 November this year, children aged 23 and above could only be included in the family unit in limited circumstances. But also, importantly, a widowed or divorced parent who is totally or substantially dependent upon a child for support and living with that child can no longer be included in that child’s visa application.

Some of the other highlights of the Productivity Commission Report released in September are as follows:

  1. Each year’s intake of parents of migrants will cost taxpayers up to $3.2 billion.
  2. Migrants make the greatest overall contribution when they arrive at the age of about 25 years. Skilled visa holders still deliver a boost to the budget if they arrive before the age of 40 years but parents, by contrast, carry by far the highest cost to the economy.
  3. There are two schemes for parents of migrants. One involves a relatively low fee of $7000 and has a waiting period of more than 30 years while the other is supposed to contribute to the costs and is set at about $47,000.
  4. The real cost to the taxpayer of a parent visa, which is estimated at between $335,000 and $410,000 after health, welfare and aged-care costs are counted.
  5. There are approximately 8700 parents coming in under both schemes each year, that adds up to between $2.6bn and $3.2bn over a lifetime (after allowing for inflation).

Whilst grandparents do make a contribution in terms of childcare this contribution tends to be more for the benefit of the family of the grandparent as opposed to the taxpayer.

Migrants have increased their share of the population from 23 per cent to 28 per cent in the past 15 years; while a further 21 per cent has at least one foreign-born parent.

I know that we are fast approaching the Christmas period which is often perceived as the time of giving but when the Minister of Immigration or the Department of Immigration comes knocking at your door with a sack marked “POLICY”, perhaps you should temper your delight at what you are about to receive with speculation as to what you will have to give up in return.

In this particular case, children 23 and older and dependent parents are the biggest losers. It seems Scrooge turned up this year for Christmas. 

-Myer Lipschitz, Director
Melbourne Office of IMMagine 

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2 comments on this post
Nov. 8, 2016, 8:11 p.m. by Tiiu Kleyn

My son worked in Australia from Jan 2012 to Oct 2013 on contract near Port Headland. He would have done anything to remain there but had to return to S.A. He is a Senior Project Manager Civil engineer but here he cannot find work any more because of our BEEEEE laws. So at 53 he is unemployed and has to look for work overseas.
As you can see he has very good skills but because he is past the cut-off age to go to Australia he can't go there. I really cannot understand this as he would be of great benefit to that country.

Replies to this comment

Nov. 9, 2016, 2:09 p.m. by Myer Lipschitz
Dear Ms Kleyn I have to agree with your comment. As we are all tending to live longer and our working lives have been extended beyond the traditional 65 years of age it's quite shortsighted to think that people over the age of 50 cannot make a significant contribution under skilled visas. I make this comment as a 55-year-old myself :-) You may be interested to know that New Zealand's cutoff age is 56 for their equivalent category known as the skilled migrant category. Many thanks for your contribution. Regards Myer Lipschitz
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Nov. 8, 2016, 8:55 p.m. by Penny

These changes make sense to me. If I am not mistaken, children older than 23 can apply in their own capacity and should be contributing to the economy in their own right. Widowed/divorced parents would qualify under other parent visas and also the new 5 year visa.

I disagree that grandparents don't make a valuable contribution to the economy. Caring for grandchildren allows parents to be more productive and ensures that the next generation are emotionally and psychologically better equipped to contribute in the longer term. This is incalculable, but should not be underestimated.

Well done to the Australian Government for streamlining the system. 30 years to wait for a visa is impossibly ridiculous.

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