SCoA Logo Yellow rectangle with SCOA cut out

Changes to Waiting Periods for Migrants – Jan 2019

The Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period is the amount of time new migrants must wait before they can access certain welfare payments from the Australian Government. Despite advocacy across the sector, there have been increases to waiting periods to access welfare payments for skilled and family migrants who are granted a permanent visa on or after 1 January 2019.

The amount of time newly arrived migrants to Australia need to wait before accessing payments and concession has increased from 1 January 2019. It is now:

  • Four years for working age payments (e.g. Newstart Allowance) and concession cards (e.g. the Low-Income Health Care Card)
  • Two years for Carer Payment
  • Two years for Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay
  • One year for Carer Allowance
  • One year for Family Tax Benefit Part A, with no waiting period for Family Tax Benefit Part B.

Application and Exemptions

Only people granted a permanent visa or temporary partner visa on or after 1 January 2019 are affected by the new waiting periods. Migrants granted a permanent visa before 1 January 2019 are not affected and are subject to the previous rules of a two year waiting period for certain payments. Australian citizens, holders of referred stay (permanent) visas, holders of permanent refugee and humanitarian visas, former refugees, and their children and partners are also exempt from waiting periods for all payments and concession cards.

There are further exemptions for holders of certain visas on waiting periods for some payments and concession cards. Those exempt from certain waiting periods include holders of temporary humanitarian visas, holders of certain carer visas, New Zealand citizens on a Special Category Visa, holders of Remaining Relative or Orphan Relative visas, and all newly arrived migrants who have a Family Tax Benefit eligible. More information can be found here.

There are also exemptions for people whose circumstances change while they are serving the waiting period. These exemptions only apply to certain payments or concession cards. Such situations may include a person who has experienced a ‘substantial change of circumstances’ since the start of their waiting period and is in financial hardship, a person who becomes a lone parent after becoming an Australian resident, a person who is receiving income support payment because they are exempt for one of the above reasons. For more information and an explanation on what constitutes a ‘substantial change in circumstances’, click here.

To apply for an exemption from the Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period, contact the Department of Human Services to discuss the situation. To get an exemption, new migrants need to make a claim for the payment they want to receive through the Department of Human Services. If eligible, their claim will be granted and they can start getting the payment.

For more information and updates, click here.