Immigration

Poorer migrants hit by double income requirement for family visas

The Turnbull government has made it harder for poorer Australians who want to financially support their relatives to migrate.

Poorer migrant families will now need to earn significantly more if they want to financially support their relatives' visa applications.

The Assurance of Support scheme, which allows Australian citizens to support newly-arrived migrants, has been changed to lift the earning threshold.

The Department of Social Services confirmed that if a couple in Australia wanted to financially support their parents to migrate, they would need to earn a combined $115,475 a year. The previous figure was $45,185.

A single person doing the same thing will now need to earn $86,606.

"The increased income requirement for an assurer is to ensure that they have sufficient financial capacity to provide an adequate level of support for the assurees and themselves during the assurance period," a department spokesman said in a statement.

The changes will also significantly increase the amount families need to have as “security” for new migrants in some visa categories from next year, according to The Guardian.

The change is the first to the scheme in a decade, and links the income requirement to the Newstart Allowance income cut-off.

The Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia said it was a bad move.

"The additional costs will have a heavy financial impact on Australian families. Family reunion enhances successful settlement & promotes social cohesion," the federation said on Twitter.

The complex formula involves multiplying the Newstart Allowance by the number of people earning income and the number of people they're supporting.

Jenny Macklin, the Labor spokeswoman on social services, told The Guardian her office had received numerous emails from “very angry families, particularly from the Chinese community”.

“It is bad form by the Turnbull government to try and sneak this change through parliament without any debate or scrutiny or even a media release from the minister,” she said. “It’s just not good enough.”

Social Services Minister Dan Tehan did not provide comment to The Guardian, but a department spokeswoman said: "The change will also ensure Australia’s social security system remains sustainable."

The changes, made on March 26, came into effect on April 1. According to The Guardian, the new requirements won't apply to applicants who submitted their applications before then.

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