In the 2014/15 Commonwealth Budget, it was announced the Federal government would cease from 2 June 2014 to accept new applications from certain family and parent (non-contributory) categories of visa. Those visa subclasses affected were:
The rationale given in the ‘Budget Papers’ is these cuts will enable faster processing of existing applications and that additional partner and child places will be made available as a consequence.
The Family visa program recognised important connections and improved settlement outcomes for migrants who are able to reside with family members. This is particularly relevant to migrants of Indian and Asian descent whom traditionally continue to live with and support immediate and extended family members in various living arrangements.
These cuts may now encourage inappropriate use of Protection visas, marriages of convenience in the Partner visa program and abuse of appeal processes to enable families to remain together as they may have no other legitimate visa pathway. There may also be an increased reliance on social security benefits due to being denied a family member to act as a Carer and inability of family members to settle effectively without the support of their extended families who may be overseas.
Although a small percentage of the total migration program (190,000 places in 2012/13 and a planned 190,000 places in 2013/14 and 2014/15), we believe family and parent visa categories perform an important social function.