Updates

Changes to waiting periods for migrants from 1 January 2019

Waiting times for new migrants to access certain Australian welfare payments have changed. Most migrants granted permanent residency from 1 January 2019 must wait up to four years before they can access certain welfare payments and concession cards. This period is called the Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period (NARWP).

The length of the NARWP varies depending on payment type.

From 1 January 2019, it is:

  • four years for working age payments (e.g. Newstart Allowance) and concession cards (e.g. the Low-Income Health Care Card)
  • two years for Carer Payment
  • two years for Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay
  • one year for Carer Allowance, and
  • one year for Family Tax Benefit Part A, with no waiting period for Family Tax Benefit Part B.

Only people granted a permanent visa, or temporary partner visa, on or after 1 January 2019 are affected by the new waiting periods. Migrants granted a permanent visa before 1 January 2019 are not affected and are subject to the previous rules of a two year NARWP for certain payments.

People on a Special Category Visa, Remaining Relative or Orphan Relative visas are also excluded from these changes and will continue to be subject to the previous waiting period rules.

A range of exemptions will be maintained to enable appropriate protections for potentially vulnerable migrants.

Under this measure, the current Assurance of Support period that applies to some family visas has also increased to four years, in line with the NARWP for working age payments.

The 2018-19 Budget and 2017‑18 Mid‑Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) measures announced plans to increase the existing NARWP from two years to four years and introduce a four year NARWP for family payments. These measures have not been implemented and have been replaced by the above changes.

More information on these changes is provided in the Waiting period for welfare payments for new migrants and Exemptions from the Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period fact sheets.

​Encouraging Self Sufficiency for Newly Arrived Migrants - Extension (2018-19 Budget) 

In the 2018-19 Budget, the Government announced an extension of the 2017-18 MYEFO measure Encouraging Self Sufficiency for Newly Arrived Migrants. The 2018-19 Budget measure would have increased the Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period from three to four years for all payments affected by the 2017-18 MYEFO measure.

The Government has since introduced changes to these measures to vary the increase of the waiting period. These changes passed Parliament on 3 December 2018 as part of the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Promoting Sustainable Welfare) Act 2018 and are outlined above.

For further information on the 2018-19 Budget, visit the Department of Social Services 2018‑19 Budget page.

Changes to Assurance of Support (AoS) from 1 April 2018

An amended Determination was registered on the Federal Register of Legislation on 23 May 2018 that returns the Assurance of Support requirements, including the income threshold for assurers, to the settings that were in place prior to 1 April 2018. The changes will apply from 1 April 2018, so as not to disadvantage a person or body who has given an Assurance of Support since this date.

To be eligible to be an AoS assurer, an individual must be an Australian resident, aged over 18, and meet the following income requirements:

  • The income threshold for the assurer is based on the maximum
    basic rate of Newstart Allowance (NSA, single with dependent children rate) as at 1 July in each financial year ($15,061.80 per annum as at
    1 July 2017) for each adult involved in the AoS, and the base rate of Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part A and FTB Part A supplement ($2,266.65 per annum as at 1 July 2017) for each dependent child of the assurer.
  • The income requirement for the assurer depends on the number of assurers, assurees and assurer’s dependent children involved in an AoS arrangement.
  • The income requirement applies to the current and previous financial year, or if not available the current year and financial year before the last.

In some cases, an Assurance of Support will include a requirement to provide a financial security via a bond. For example, visas under the parent migration program.
For an individual assurer, the bond amounts are:

  • for contributory parent visas (10-year AoS): $10,000 for the primary visa applicant and $4,000 for any adult secondary visa applicant
  • for other visas such as non-contributory parent visas (2-year AoS): $5,000 for the primary visa applicant and $2,000 for any adult secondary visa applicant.

For corporations and unincorporated bodies providing an AoS, the bond amounts are:

  • for contributory parent visas (10-year AoS): $20,000 (to cover a maximum of 2 adult assurees)
  • for other visas such as non-contributory parent visas (2-year AoS): $10,000 (to cover a maximum of 2 adult assurees).

A discretionary Assurance of Support does not require a bond.

Depending on the visa type granted, a migrant may require an AoS of either one year, two years or 10 years:

  • A one-year discretionary AoS applies to humanitarian entrants under the Community Support Program.
  • A two-year mandatory AoS applies to Non-Contributory Parent Visa holders.
  • A 10-year mandatory AoS applies to Contributory Parent Visa holders.

Note: the current two year AoS period that applies to some family visas has increased to four years, from 1 January 2019. Encouraging Self Sufficiency for Newly Arrived Migrants Fact Sheet.

Community Support Program

The Community Support Program (CSP) was announced as part of the 2017-18 Budget and commenced on 1 July 2017. The CSP allows humanitarian entrants (i.e. applicants for a subclass 202 Global Special Humanitarian visa) to be sponsored by individuals, community organisations and business groups through Approved Proposing Organisations. Sponsors are responsible for providing adequate support to CSP entrants for the first 12 months in Australia.

CSP entrants are subject to a discretionary AoS with an assurance period of 12 months. The AoS does not prevent a CSP entrant from accessing income support payments and family assistance payments on arrival as humanitarian entrants are exempt from all waiting periods for social security payments. The AoS provides the mechanism to require the assurer to repay any recoverable social security payments made to the CSP entrant during the assurance period.

More information about the AoS scheme is available on the DHS website.

Encouraging Self Sufficiency for Newly Arrived Migrants (2017-18 MYEFO)

In the 2017-18 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) the Government announced that the existing NARWP would be increased from two years to three years for working age payments, such as Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance and would be applied to new payments including Carer Allowance, Family Tax Benefit and payments under the Paid Parental Leave Scheme.

In the 2018‑19 Budget, the Government announced a further extension of the NARWP to four years. Further changes to this measure have since been introuduced to vary the waiting periods for different payments. More information on these changes is provided above or in the Encouraging Self Sufficiency for Newly Arrived Migrants Fact Sheet.

Enhanced Residency Requirements for Pensioners (2017-18 Budget)

From 1 July 2018, pending the passage of legislation, to qualify for Age Pension or Disability Support Pension a person will be required to have 10 years continuous Australian residence, with either:

  • five years of this residence being during their working life (16 years of age to Age Pension age); or
  • not have been in receipt of an activity tested income support payment for a cumulative period of greater than five years.

In circumstances where the person does not meet the requirements set out above, they will be required to have 15 years continuous Australian residence before being eligible to receive the Age Pension or Disability Support Pension.

Stopping the Pension Supplement (2016-17 Budget)

Subject to the passage of legislation, the Pension Supplement Basic Amount will stop after six weeks overseas, or immediately if the recipient has permanently departed Australia from the next possible start date after royal ascent.

Currently, the Pension Supplement is reduced to the Basic Amount after six weeks temporary absence from Australia, or immediately for permanent departures.

This measure will affect income support recipients who travel outside Australia temporarily for more than six weeks or immediately if the recipient has permanently departed Australia.

This measure will reinforce and strengthen the residence based nature of Australia’s social security system.

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