MYEFO: Increase to waiting period for social security benefits for migrants, AoS terms increase

Yesterday, the Government released its Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook report for 2017-18. In doing so, they announced that from 1 July 2018, the waiting period for new migrants before they can access certain welfare benefits will increase from two to three years. It is expected this measure will save approximately $1.2 billion over four years.

In addition to this, a three-year waiting period will be applied to Family Tax Benefit, Paid Parental Leave and Carer Allowances. What benefits allowed are subject to the particular subclass of visa granted. In the mire that is social security regulations, the Department of Social Services provides a guide for each subclass.

Exemptions will apply to certain vulnerable groups, and for newly arrived residents if they would have been eligible to receive Paid Parental Leave between 1 July 2018 and 31 December 2018.

Also, the current two-year Assurance of Support (AoS) for family visas will be increased to three years. The AoS scheme is designed to safeguard social security while allowing people to migrate who might otherwise not normally be permitted to come to Australia because of a high likelihood of requiring income support. The AoS scheme is chiefly required for family visas.

An AoS for a visa can either be mandatory (where a security is required to be paid to Centrelink) or discretionary. An AoS effectively shifts the financial responsibility for social security payments onto the assurer through a legal commitment. The term of an AoS starts when the visa is granted if the applicant is in Australia or on the first date the visa holder arrives in Australia.

While most terms of an AoS are for two years (soon to be three), for contributory parent visas these are for 10 years, and not subject to an increase.