New requirement to learn English to maximise job prospects

The Morrison Government is introducing new requirements for
partner visa applicants and their permanent resident sponsors to make
reasonable efforts to learn English. 

English is our national language and is critical to getting a
job, fully participating in our democracy and for social cohesion. 

Only 13 per cent of those with no English skills are in work
compared to 62 per cent 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 opportunity for
migrants and new citizens to maximise their opportunities in Australia.

Further details about these measures will be announced in the
coming months.

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