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New permanent residents face longer waiting periods for Centrelink payments

New residents will face longer waiting periods for most payments if the new social security laws are passed. Source: Getty Images

With changes in the social security laws set to take effect from 1 January 2022, new permanent residents will have a four-year wait period before they can access most government payments.

Social security benefits are available to Australian residents who are in financial need. The Department of Social Services (DSS) considers Australian citizens, permanent visa holders and some New Zealand citizens as Australian residents for social security payments. Temporary partner visa holders can also access some payments.

The Department of Social Services says its longstanding policy is that new migrants should support themselves when they first settle in Australia. One requirement is that new permanent residents serve a waiting period before accessing government payments.

To qualify for most payments from January 2022, new residents will have to wait four years from the time their residency is granted. Time outside of Australia will not count towards the four year wait time.

Dr Astrid Perry is Manager of Strategic Policy with Settlement Services International. She has been looking closely at the new policy settings and what it means for migrants.

“If you arrive as a refugee then you have normal access to income support as any other Australian that might be in a situation of unemployment or sickness, or ageing or studying and so on. However, if you come on any of the other visas, even as a permanent resident, you serve a four-year waiting period. It’s called the Newly Arrived Migrant Waiting Period."

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