The Morrison Government is introducing new requirements for partner visa applicants and their permanent resident sponsors to make reasonable efforts to learn English. Their knowledge of English will pave their way to permanent residency in Australia. For some commentators this will introduce new pains into an already hard road to homebuilding for new couples.
English is our national language and is critical to getting a job, fully participating in our democracy and for social cohesion.
According to the Hon. Alan Tudge, Acting Minister for Immigration, “Only 13 per cent of those with no English skills are in work compared to 62 per cent of those who speak English well.
“We also know that without sufficient English language skills, migrants are particularly vulnerable to family violence and other exploitation and are less likely to know how and where to seek assistance.”
In the past decade, the number of people in Australia not speaking English well or at all has risen sharply and is reaching a million people, with about half of those being of working age.
Earlier this year, the Government announced the removal of limitations on migrants’ access to free English language classes through the Adult Migration English Program (AMEP). Migrants can now access as many hours as they need to reach vocational English.
As part of this week’s Budget, the Government has announced new requirements for partner visa applicants and permanent resident sponsors to make reasonable efforts to learn English. Partner visas constitute 90 percent of the family stream of the permanent migration intake. The skill stream already has English requirements.
According to the minister’s foreshadowed changes, from late 2021, new partner visa applicants and permanent resident sponsors will be required to have functional level English or to demonstrate that they have made reasonable efforts to learn English.
People will be able to demonstrate this through, for example, the completion of 500 hours of free English language classes through the AMEP.
And if the changes flagged are implemented, the partner holder of the provisional visa will not be able to get permanent residency visa unless they achieve functional level knowledge of English.
“Most partner visas are a provisional visa of two years before becoming eligible for a permanent visa. The requirement will have to be met at the time of the granting of the permanent visa”, says Minister Tudge.
While the ability to speak multiple languages is a great asset for an individual and for Australia, a person will struggle to fully participate in our society and democracy without basic English.
These new measures will provide further opportunity for migrants and new citizens to maximise their opportunities in Australia.
Talking to Bharat Times, the Hon Andrew Giles said the idea ‘was a thought bubble’ and added that the government ‘will walk away from it’, suggesting it will not be implemented.
“You cannot tell someone who to fall in love with”, Mr. Giles added.
The idea though right spirited – has not been thought through for its effective implementation and adoption by the migrant community if not enforcement by the government.
For instance, what if the partner holding the provisional visa fails or does not ‘make the effort’ as envisaged by the government?
Can that partner not continue to live in Australia indefinitely with the same benefits and entitlements as a permanent resident?
Mr. Giles hopes and believes there will be a 180 degree U-turn on this policy announcement very soon.