The Australian Government is introducing new requirements for partner visa applicants and their permanent resident sponsors to make reasonable efforts to learn English, says an announcement from Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multiculturalism Hon. Alan Tudge.
English is our national language and is critical to getting a job, fully participating in our democracy and for social cohesion.
Only 13 percent of those with no English skills are in work compared to 62 percent 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.
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.
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.
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 opportunities for migrants and new citizens to maximise their opportunities in Australia.
Further details about these measures will be announced in the coming months