02 November 2012

Australian immigration law loosens criteria for disabled migrants

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has said new criteria would be introduced for disabled migrants which should make it easier for many to move to Australia.

Australia visa

Under new Australian immigration policy, disabled migrants should face a much fairer chance of securing permaneny residency.

Under current Australian immigration policy, applicants were routinely rejected for permanent residency due to the possible cost of any treatment required for certain disabilities.

Just last month, one Oxfordshire based family was facing a lengthy and doubtful appeal process after having their family visa rejected due to 12-year-old daughter Niahm's autism.

However, under recently announced policy changes, Mr Bowen said each case would be given greater consideration under a 'net benefit' approach where the potential costs of any medical required can be offset against what the potential migrants contribute to the Australian economy.

"This will mean an individual's health costs can be offset by the benefit their family will bring to Australian society," said Mr Bowen.

The news has been met warmly by affected applicants - Simran Kaur, 32, was finally granted residency after a two year battle regarding the medical costs attributed to her blindness.

"I'm very happy with the changes," said Ms Kaur." It has taken a while but we've achieved what we were fighting for.

"It's going to have a great impact. We don't want anything special.

"What we want is a fair chance. If we are able and capable and we fulfil all the other criteria, we should not be discriminated against."

"The change in policy is also accompanied by an increase in the Significant Cost Threshold (SCT) - the level at which the government determines the cost of medical care to be too high - will be increased from AU$21,000 (£13,500) to AU$35,000 (£22,500) next July, meaning even more people with disability will have the chance to move to Australia.

"It's great to see that highly skilled migrants will not be so easily disadvantaged by any disabilities they or their children may have," said Leonie Cotton, casework manager at the Australian Visa Bureau.

“Hopefully more highly skilled, experienced and qualified applicants who have much to offer Australia will now have the option of migrating to Australia. 

"It’s encouraging that the DIAC are attempting to strike a much fairer balance."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.

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