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On Friday afternoon last week the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) made an announcement that Legal Training Australia (LTA) is the new provider for the Migration Agents Capstone Exam (Capstone).

Click here to see the OMARA announcement.

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Overview of the Disallowable Legislative Instrument

The New Zealand pathway to permanent residence (the pathway) provides a concession to New Zealand citizens who have demonstrated commitment to Australia, and who have made and can continue to make a strong economic contribution to Australia's future. It is delivered as a stream of the subclass 189 (Skilled –Independent) visa.

Prior to this amendment, these applicants were required to have an income at or above a specified threshold (the income threshold) for the four most recently completed income years before the date of their visa application (during the period of five years immediately before that date), unless claiming an exemption. In practice, this required applicants to provide evidence of income at or above the threshold for four consecutive years, meaning New Zealanders who otherwise earned at or above the threshold for a majority of those four years but had their income temporarily drop became ineligible. These New Zealanders had to then start again and earn at or above the income threshold for four consecutive years before they were eligible to apply for the pathway.

The income requirement is amended to require applicants to demonstrate they had an income at or above the threshold for three income years in the five years immediately before the date the visa application is made. One of those income years must be the income year that ended most recently before the date of the application.

The change is intended to benefit New Zealanders who live and work in Australia by providing additional flexibility and reducing the documentation required to be provided with an application, while continuing to meet the policy intent of making the pathway available to New Zealand citizens who have made and continue to make a demonstrated economic contribution to Australia.

The existing income threshold amount remains unchanged.

Source: Migration-Amendment-Sc189-Visas-Regs-2021.pdf and 

Migration-Amendment-Sc189-Regs-2021 explanatory.pdf

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The instrument operates, for paragraph 189.233(1)(a) of Schedule 2 to the Migration Regulations, to specify under paragraph 189.233(2)(a) of Schedule 2 to the Migration Regulations, the minimum amount of taxable income for an income year that an applicant for a Subclass 189 (Skilled— Independent) visa in the New Zealand stream (Subclass 189 visa) must meet to satisfy the primary criteria for that visa.

The instrument also operates, for paragraph 189.233(1)(b) of Schedule 2 to the Migration Regulations, to specify under paragraph 189.233(2)(b) of Schedule 2 to the Migration Regulations the circumstances under which an applicant for a Subclass 189 visa is a member of a class of applicants exempt from the minimum amount of taxable income specified and the evidence required for the class.

The purpose of the instrument is to add a new class of applicants who are exempt from the minimum amount of taxable income requirements, which is a primary criterion for the grant of the Subclass 189 visa, and to add the evidence required for the new class of exempt applicants.

Under new item 4 of Schedule 1 to the instrument, an applicant is a member of a class of exempt applicants, if the applicant:

a. does not meet the income requirement for the 2019–20 income year because the applicant has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; and

b. provides the evidence mentioned in item 4 of Schedule 1 to the Department to support the claim.

A further purpose of the instrument is to specify in section 6 the minimum amount of taxable income for the income year 2020–21 as $53 900.00. This is the same as the minimum amount of income specified in the instrument for each income year from 2013–14 to 2019–20.

The minimum amounts of income for each income year from 2011–12 to 2019–20 continue to be specified in the instrument and have not changed from the amounts specified in the previous instrument, LIN 20/170. As the instrument does not alter the minimum amount of taxable income and adds to the classes of exempt applicants, the instrument is not detrimental to applicants who have made an application, which has not been finally determined before the instrument commences.

The instrument provides an income exemption to New Zealand citizen applicants who might have otherwise met the income threshold requirements for the 2019–20 income year, but are now unable to do so due to loss of, or reduction in, employment and income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This instrument ensures that New Zealand citizen temporary visa holders, who were on a pathway to permanent residence prior to 1 February 2020, continue to maintain eligibility to apply for a Subclass 189 visa.

Source: LIN21018.pdf and LIN21018-Explanatory-Statement.pdf

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The Office of the MARA have sent the following information by email:

This evening, Wednesday 19 May 2021 from 17:00 to 18:30 the OMARA website will undergo planned maintenance. Note the following services will not be available during this time:

  • lodging enquiries, complaints and applications
  • advertising and reporting continuing professional development activities
  • searching the Register of Migration Agents, former agents and disciplinary decisions. 

These services will return to normal following the outage.

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Liana Allan, Founder of Migration Alliance and John Hourigan, President of the Migration Institute of Australia met for lunch today in Sydney to discuss the Migration Agents Instruments Review consultation report.

Last week,  The Department of Home Affairs released the Migration Agents Instruments Review consultation report, which seeks public feedback.   The report outlines a number of alternatives to achieving a highly qualified and professional migration advice profession.  It also looks at ways the Government can effectively combat misconduct and unlawful activity.

The report covers reform options to the current legislative framework which underpins the migration advice industry.   This includes Part 3 of the Migration Act 1958.    Public submissions have been incorporated into the report via the ‘Creating a world class migration advice industry’ discussion paper.

...
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