Changes on the Assurance of Support (AoS) scheme was recently implemented by Dan Tehan, the Minister for Social Services, to ensure the sustainability of Australia’s social security system. AoS refers to the assurance that an Australian citizen shall take financial responsibility for the new migrant for a set period. The changes to the scheme will greatly impact those migrants helping family members migrate to the country as they are required to provide much higher income requirements.
Visa fees and visa conditions are different from AoS requirements. Visas with mandatory AoS that are significantly affected include subclass 103-Parent, subclass 143-Contributory Parent and subclass 864-Contributory Aged Parent.
The changes in the AoS income requirement under new and pre-1 April 2018 determinations are as follows.
|Assurer/assuree circumstances||New requirements
Based on Newstart Allowance cut-off of $28,868.84
Based on Newstart Allowance rate of $15,061.80 and FTB-A rate of $2,266.65
|One person gives an AoS for 2 adults||$86,606.52||$45,185.40||$41,421.12|
|One person (who has a partner) gives an AoS for 2 adults||$115,475.36||$45,185.40||$70,289.96|
|3 people give an AoS for 2 adults||$144,344.20||$75,309.00||$69,035.20|
|2 people (who each have a partner) give an AoS for 2 adults||$173,213.04||$60,247.20||$112,965.84|
|Person (who has a partner and 2 children) gives an AoS jointly with another person (who has a partner) for a migrating family of 2 parents and 2 children||$184,760.58||$64,780.50||$119,980.08|
Aside from the increase in income requirement, a few changes have been observed. Community Support Programme entrants are required of a 12-month AoS. It is also required that prospective assurers must be in the country at the time of the application and a person with an outstanding debt due to the Commonwealth is ineligible to provide an AoS.
These changes are expected to have a significant impact on the number of applicants for the affected visa categories. The new scheme prevents low and middle income families from sponsoring and reuniting with parents and other relatives.
People are said to be upset and outraged by the changes. Mary Patetsos, Chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia, added ‘These changes would have affected all family reunions, regardless of place of origin, with the additional costs imposing a heavy financial impact on Australian families … Family reunion enhances successful settlement, promotes social cohesion and drives economic prosperity.’
Most AoS scheme requirements are set out in a legislative instrument which means it can be disallowed by a motion of the House of Representatives or the Senate.
Migrants commended the quick response and prevention of the Turnbull government of the new scheme changes.
Tehan received backlash from different ethnic and community groups for proposing the raise in income requirements and acknowledged the decision to return to old arrangements.