News Articles

Advocates slam partner visa English test as a `paternalistic` measure that will keep families apart

Source: SBS News, 09/04/2021

Partner visa language test will only affect people who apply after the changes are introduced mid-next year.
The Department of Home Affairs says adding an English language requirement for partner visa applicants would protect people in family violence situations.
• Requiring immigrants who apply for a partner visa to pass an English test would be a `paternalistic` measure that will tear families apart, refugee and women`s advocates say.
The Department of Home Affairs is considering adding a language requirement for partner visa applications. Under the proposal, both the person applying for the visa and the person sponsoring the visa would have to pass the English test.
A consultation paper issued by the department says the measure would protect potential victims of violence by encouraging them to learn English.
`Migrants who do not have sufficient English language skills may be more vulnerable to family violence and other exploitation,` the paper states.
`They are less likely to have an established support network or be aware of Australia`s laws and how to seek help.`
English speakers are better able to independently seek help in emergency situations such as family violence at home, it says.
But the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA) and the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) have slammed the proposal as paternalistic.
`This language creates a false association between domestic and family violence and non-English speakers,` said RACS lawyer Hannah Gray, who co-ordinates the centre`s Women at Risk program.
It also `makes the unsupported claim that the way to combat such violence is by making it more difficult for non-English speaking partners to obtain visas and be reunited with their families`, she added.
Ms Gray said family violence occurs across all cultures and language groups, and it was `highly reductive` to suggest the problem was exacerbated by survivors` English skills.
A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said the government was committed to providing support to victims of family violence regardless of their language skills.
They said public consultations would inform the settings and implementation of the policy.
RACS consulted with extensive specialist women`s services, who all confirmed they are `strongly opposed` to the English language requirements.
`For these groups, the suggestion it was the lack of English of survivors of violence is seen as just another form of victim blaming,` Ms Gray said.
AWAVA`s program manager, Tina Dixson, said women on temporary visas need to be supported to access essential services when they`re in crisis.
Ms Gray added that an English test would create barriers and delays to family reunions for refugees, and in some cases completely prevent families from being reunited.
`Family reunification is already extraordinarily difficult. This proposal is yet another hurdle adversely impacting the lives of refugees in Australia,` she said.
The organisations have penned a joint submission to the department expressing their strong opposition to the idea.
The reforms were announced as part of the 2020-21 federal budget. Submissions on the proposal closed on 31 March.
The Department of Home Affairs did not respond to questions.


  •    A critical skills survey conducted by Xpatweb highlights the most in-demand ‘scarce’ skills in the country, which has led to businesses seeking talent recruitment from abroad.... Read more...
  •    Upon application to the Minister of Home Affairs, the Minister may under terms and conditions determined by him or her allow distinguished visitors or members of his/her family to be administered and sojourn in South Africa and or waive any prescribed (regulatory) requirements for good cause and/or grant any foreigner or category of foreigners the rights of permanent residence for a specified or unspecified period when special circumstances exist justifying such a decision.... Read more...
  •    The Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by the minister of home affairs, who was ordered by the high court in Pretoria last year to grant citizenship to two brothers born in SA of foreign parents in the 1990s.... Read more...
  •    Work visa requirements for South African immigration Background to Work Visa for South African Immigration South Africa offers a number of options for those who are seeking a Work Visa for the purposes of South African immigration. Similar to other countries the Work Visa legislation focuses on two main areas:... Read more...
  •    A penthouse in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town sold for R45 million. * *The low interest rate seemed to have little impact on the luxury housing market, but this seems to be changing.* * *There has also been in increase in foreign buyers looking for and buying property in SA.* * *The March Lightstone Residential Property Index shows that annual house price inflation was 4.0% at the end of February 2021 signifying a positive increase from the previous month.*... Read more...
  •    Cape Town ` More than 153 000 asylum seekers in South Africa who have been waiting for years for a decision on their applications for refugee status will have their cases heard following an agreement between the UN Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Department of Home Affairs to eliminate delays and clear backlogs. This as the UNHCR says refugees in Cape Town have approached them for support in rejoining the community, while others have expressed an interest in returning to their home countries... Read more...
  •    While South Africa is seeking critically skilled individuals, recent reports have shown that the number of South Africans seeking opportunities abroad has increased significantly over the past five to ten years owing to concerns about South Africa`s low economic growth, independent immigration services provider Xpatweb director Marisa Jacobs tells Engineering News.... Read more...
  •    Ten South African diplomatic missions are set to be axed to save costs. The South African government is expected to cut 10 of its diplomatic missions abroad, as a money-saving measure.... Read more...
  •    SA Visa Many tourists have been thrown into the deep end as Home Affairs implement South African visa changes overnight. I’m sure by now many of you have read or heard about the recent rules that have come into effect for the SA Visa. After doing some research I decided to gather some information together to try and put your minds at ease and make sure you are aware of how to avoid being declared an “undesirable” person.... Read more...
  •    Government has proposed a draft national master plan which aims to loosen regulations in the cannabis industry to promote economic development. • It wants to help create export markets for dagga growers. • Government plans to amend legislation to remove existing constraints that hinder commercialisation.... Read more...

Get the latest Immigration News