Migrants wanting to sponsor family members to immigrate to Australia have been caught out by a sudden increase in the amount of income they are required to prove to the Federal Government.
Last month, Social Services Minister Dan Tehan quietly raised the threshold for singles and couples who wished to sponsor relatives into the country.
The Assurance of Support scheme is a program designed to ensure new arrivals can be provided for by those who sponsor them, reducing the potential burden on the health and social security budget.
Previously, a single person was required to prove an income of $45185 to receive a visa for their relative. That rate has shot up to $86606. A couple previously needed to prove an income of $45185, but now have to show they have earned at least $115475 per annum.
The changes will have a drastic impact on Shepparton’s migrant community, according to those working in the sector, greatly reducing the ability of low- and medium-income earners to sponsor family members. ‘‘This isn’t based on any visa type or ethnicity group, it’s across the board,’’ Ethnic Council of Shepparton manager Chris Hazelman said. ‘‘Someone who’s looking to bring a parent to Australia, to assist a family member, will now find it extremely difficult to do so.
‘‘Only those who are earning well above average income will have the capacity to (access the scheme).’’
Migration agent Ian Richie, of Faram Ritchie Davies, said the government had forced through the changes without warning or consultation.
He said they also had not been widely publicised.
‘‘This has not been published in any broad sense, it has not been published in any forum,’’ he said.
A Department of Social Services spokesperson said the changes were necessary.
‘‘The Australian Government wants to ensure newly arrived migrants have the financial capacity to support themselves on arrival in Australia,’’ they said.
‘‘The change will also ensure Australia’s social security system remains sustainable.’’