Australia will need foreign partners of existing residents to pass an English language test. Experts comment on the consequences regarding the change.
The controversial immigration requirement of Australia would apply from mid-2021 if approved by parliament. This norm will force the partners of applicants to pass a level of English proficiency. Consequently, this test will represent the “reasonable efforts” made by the immigrants to adapt, BBC News reported.
Critics and the new immigration law
Critics are calling the change discriminatory. They further claim that the women and the counter immigrants would become vulnerable to familial abuse.
Contradictorily, the government says that the change in the wind for immigration is to build social cohesion.
Alan Tudge is the acting immigration minister under Federal Government.
On the change, he comments, “We will need an applicant and a sponsor to have met functional level English. The aim is to show that at least reasonable efforts to learn English.”
The Immigration history of Australia
English proficiency is currently a requirement for work and study visas. Now, additionally, anyone applying for Australian citizenship must pass an English test.
For the past few years, Australia’s conservative government has called for prospective migrants to face mandatory, rigorous testing on their English language skills.
Factually, more than one-fifth of Australia’s population speaks a language other than English at home. The figure for this observation is well above 35% in Sydney and Melbourne’s largest cities.
The reason behind the change
Mr. Tudge informed that about one million people were living in Australia have low or no English proficiency. He further remarked that this limits their work and social skills.
“In some instances, the husband will not want his wife or partner to learn English.” he further elaborates. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said partners could still arrive on a temporary visa, but they should learn Australia’s first language to remain permanently once in the country.
A new facet to change in the policy of Australia
Though, looking at the new financial regulation for this change portrays a different aspect of the Federal Government’s decision.
The new fee for the visa is incremented. Alongside the usual fee of $7,715 for the partner visa application, the applicant is now to pay an extra of $420.
This increment will rake up to $4.9m extra from the immigration department for the government.
Reaction to this change in immigration
Some critics say the requirement is racist, arguing it targets people from non-Western nations and their partners. They pointed to language tests used in the infamous White Australia policy, which effectively prevented non-European immigration to the country from 1901 until the late 1960s.
This absolutely reeks of the White Australia policy. https://t.co/Wor7syLA92
— Jenny Noyes (@jennynoise) October 7, 2020
The Labor opposition said the changes take them back to the 1950s. Andrew Giles, the shadow minister for multicultural affairs, says, “English proficiency isn’t a test of someone’s love.”
My migrant parents didn't speak a word of English when they came from Greece. Raised 2 human rights lawyers with 8 degrees & an Order of Australia. Under this government they never would have been allowed in. Since when does speaking English determine your worth? Can you relate? pic.twitter.com/iGll4ugs8O
— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) October 8, 2020
The Immigration trend
Presently, there is a two-year waiting period for permanent partner visas, and applications start from A$7,715 (£4,260; $5,500). According to the most recent figures, the embassy granted about 40,000 visas were in 2017-2018. Consequently, there was double that number in pending applications.
According to the 2016 census, more than 300 languages exist in Australia. This year, Australia is forecast to see its first drop in net overseas migration since World World Two due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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