30 June 2009

British emigrants to Australia lobby for visa changes

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A group of more than 8,000 expatriates in Australia is lobbying for permanent resident status because of the high cost of their health insurance premium, the Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported.

Australian visa changes

A group of British emigrants to Australia have been lobbying for visa changes.

The expats, mainly Britons following adult children who have emigrated to Australia, hold a temporary residency visa (subclass 410).

This visa requires them to hold private health insurance, and puts them in a much more expensive insurance category than permanent residents, although most holders have lived in the country for years.

Expatriates are required permanently to hold comprehensive private health cover. It is a condition of entry into Australia, and many countries, to prevent individuals becoming "a burden on the state."

A couple on a temporary residency visa (subclass 410) could face premiums of £3,000 for comprehensive cover and still have to pay direct for medication and other items. The Daily Telegraph reported the burden can proved too much for some elderly expats, forcing them to return to Britain.

In May, those on the temporary residency visa (subclass 410) won some concessions when Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, announced the extendion of the visa from four to 10 years and abolished working restrictions. Previously, holders were not allowed to work more than 20 hours a week, even if unpaid.

Senator Evans said the increased length of the 410 visa would give holders "greater certainty about the duration of the stay in Australia and relieve them of the administrative burden of renewing their visas every four years."

Although temporary residency visa (subclass 410) renewals will continue, this visa is no longer available for first-time Australian visa applicants. There are alternative visas available for first-time Australian visa applicants including the Investor Retirement Visa (subclass 405).

The drive to lift temporary status has been headed by the British Expat Retirees in Australia group.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people emigrating to Australia.

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