Plans to make provisional visas mandatory before permanent residence

pexels-photo-105952 (1)

The Australian Government is exploring the idea of making provisional visas a mandatory step before permanent residency, meaning migrants may need to spend a certain period of time in Australia before becoming eligible for permanent residence.

According to the Immigration Department’s recent discussion paper, around half of Australia’s permanent visas were granted to people on a temporary visa in 2015-16, with temporary residence increasingly becoming the first step to living in Australia permanently. There is certainly an appetite for those temporarily in Australia to seek permanent residence, but should it be mandatory for migrants to spend a period of time in Australia before applying to stay?

Currently, only some of Australia’s permanent visa categories require provisional visa stages before permanent residence can be granted, such as partner visas and some business migration visas. Most permanent visa categories, such as the ‘General Skilled Migration program’, do not have a provisional stage. The General Skilled program, principally made up of subclass 189 and 190 visas, is Australia’s largest permanent migration program, with over 70,000 permanent places planned for the current program year (to June 2018). Applicants currently do not have to spend any time in Australia before applying for permanent residence.

Introducing mandatory provisional visas would therefore be a significant shift in the way permanent residence is granted in Australia. We have already seen changes to Australia’s skilled visas with the Government’s recent introduction of the Medium to Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). Under the recent 457 visa changes, a permanent residency pathway is only available to those with the skills and experience for occupations on the MLTSSL list.

We have also seen the Immigration Department sharpen their focus on Australian values under the proposed changes to citizenship laws. It will be interesting to see whether a person’s demonstration of the Australian values over a mandatory provisional period will be a factor in their eligibility for permanent residence. In December last year, Interstaff reported that Fairfax published leaked sensitive Government papers which revealed possible changes to put migrants on probation before being deemed fit for permanent residency and Australian citizenship. Read our post on this here.

As the Government continues to review Australia’s temporary and permanent visas, it is possible that there could be multiple changes to current permanent residence pathways. If you are interested in finding out if you are eligible for permanent residence, contact our migration agents for a free visa assessment or phone 08 9221 3388.


Interstaff Migration Agents

Department of Immigration and Border Protection Policy Consultation Paper – Visa Simplification: Transforming Australia’s Visa System