The Morrison Government has slashed the visa costs for community groups wanting to sponsor refugees by 60 per cent and will establish a new pilot program for refugee support in a move described as “a watershed moment”. Source: The Guardian.
Any refugees sponsored by members of the Australian public will be subtracted from the Government’s humanitarian commitment rather than added to the number, but the Department of Home Affairs said it would consider making community-sponsored places additional in future.
In its mid-year economic update, the Government announced that from July 1 next year it would “reduce the visa application charge to 40 per cent of the current rate for primary applicants to the community support program and remove it entirely for secondary applicants”.
A Government spokesperson said: “This means that family size will not impact on the total visa application charge.”
It costs, on average, more than $90,000 to sponsor a family of five to resettle in Australia, compared with the equivalent of $36,000 under Canada’s comparable program.
The Government spokesperson said the visa application charge – a significant component of the current cost – would fall from $19,449 for a primary applicant to $7760.
Immigration minister Alex Hawke said “community-based settlement can be particularly effective at delivering successful settlement outcomes for refugee and humanitarian entrants”.
The chief executive of Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia, Lisa Button, said the pilot program was a “watershed moment” that would provide significant benefits to both refugees coming to Australia and the communities that sponsored them.