Published on June 25th, 2009 | by john.weir2
UK expats visa campaign in Oz wins concessions
A group ofÂ mainly British expats in Australia is battling to win permanent resident status according to the Daily Telegraph -a move that would save them each hundreds of pounds a year in health insurance premiums.
The 8,000 expats hold 410 visas – temporary residency visas – which puts them in a much more expensive insurance category than “permanent” expats. Chris Evans, minister for immigration and citizenship in May extended the visa from four to 10 years and abolished working restrictions.Â
The issue came to a head last year. Visitors’ medical cover was switched from its former category of “health insurance” to “health-related insurance,” removing the protection afforded by official capping of premiums.Â In Australia, the tax breaks for medical cover mean that overÂ 40 per cent of citizens areÂ insured privately.
Unlike the UK, expatriates in Australia are required permanently to hold comprehensive private cover. It is a condition of entry to prevent individuals becoming “a burden on the state.”
A couple on a 410 visa could face premiums of Â£3,000 for comprehensive cover and still have to pay direct for medication and other items. The burden has proved too much for some elderly expats, forcing them to return to Britain.
Many Britons came to Australia on a 410 visa to join adult, emigrant children. Some were later granted a parent’s permanent residency visa, but others failed to qualify because of the rule that requires at least 50 per cent of an applicant’s children to be settled in Australia (for example two children out of a family of three).
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.”
Of the 8,200 “410-ers”, more than six in 10 are British. Holders have always been allowed to buy property in Australia and travel freely in and out of the country. Although 410 renewals will continue, no new visas are being issued.
The drive to lift temporary status has been headed by the Beria (British Expat Retirees in Australia) group. John Wittering, the vice president, said: “Although the enhancements were well received, they have not addressed the issue of health cover. We have not taken our eye off our long-term goal of permanent residence, and eventual citizenship, for 410 visa holders.”
â€¢ Beria can be contacted by emailing Beriahelp@ozemail.com.au