NEW VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR PARTNERS OF AUSTRALIAN NATIONALS
The Australian government announced on 9th October 2020, the introduction of an English language requirement for anyone applying for Australian citizenship, which would be subject to approval from the Australian Parliament. Although the requirement of proficiency in the English language currently exists for those on work and study visas, this will now apply to the foreign partners of visa applicants as well.
Both visa applicants and their respective partners must take and pass an English language test from mid-2021 to enter Australia if this is passed as legislation. Although, foreign partners can still enter Australia via the temporary visa route, they will be required to pass Australia’s English language test should they wish to reside permanently in Australia.
Beside this potential change in the Australian immigration policy, the partner visa application fee have also increased. Originally being AUD 7,715.00, applications now cost an additional AUD 420.00, generating AUD 4.9 million extra for Australia’s immigration department.
According to Mr Alan Tudge, the acting immigration minister under Federal Government, there are approximately 1 million people currently residing in Australia who have little or a non-existent command of the English language. He also remarked that this has a tremendous impact on social skills amongst citizens and working environments because of the limitations on communication levels.
With the prediction of a significant drop in net overseas migration due to COVID-19, the visa fee increment is a medium to provide added income for its immigration department.
However, this newly proposed English language requirement for foreign partners has been labelled as discriminatory and racist. The government has been accused of trying to revive the White Australia policy that existed in the 1900s.
Similarly, the shadow Labour party expressed that Australia is drifting back to 1950s when the immigration of EU nationals was deliberately limited. Contrarily, the Conservative government has campaigned for thorough English language testing for new migrants. This campaign was based on the fact that one-fifth of the population particularly in Melbourne and Sydney speak languages other than English at home.