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What is Assurance of Support (AoS)?
The AoS is a scheme designed to offset welfare costs for certain migrants by a bond a assurance to be met by an Australian permanent resident or citizen.
An AoS is a legal commitment by a person known as the assurer. The commitment is to provide financial support to a person applying to migrate (the assuree) so that they will not have to rely on social welfare payments from the public purse.
It is also a commitment to repay to the Australian Government certain welfare payments if payments are paid to the assuree during their AoS period. In some circumstances, an assurer will also need to provide a financial bond.
An AoS lasts for:
- 10 years for contributory parent visa holders
- two years for all other visa types where an AoS is needed.
The AoS period begins on:
- the date of visa grant, if the applicant is in Australia
- the date the visa holder arrives in Australia, if the applicant was outside Australia when the visa was granted.
The AoS (including the AoS financial bond) remains in place for the duration of the AoS period, regardless of whether or not the person applying to migrate has become an Australian citizen or obtained a different visa (except where that visa is a humanitarian visa).
When the relevant visa has been granted, the AoS can only be cancelled (and the AoS bond refunded) in very limited circumstances as determined by the Department of Human Services (DHS).
Types of Assurance of Support
Mandatory Assurance of Support
The mandatory AoS must be provided before a visa can be granted. A financial bond must be lodged by the assurer in cases where an AoS is mandatory. The mandatory AoS cannot be waived in any circumstances and applies to the following permanent visas:
- Aged Parent
- Contributory Parent
- Contributory Aged Parent
- Aged Dependent Relative
- Remaining Relative.
While all applicants for the visa categories listed above require an AoS, a bond is only required for applicants aged 18 years and over.
For permanent Contributory Parent (including Contributory Aged Parent) visa applicants, an AoS bond of AUD10 000 is required for the main applicant. This bond will be held for the 10-year AoS period. The AoS bond sum for any adult secondary applicant is AUD4000.
For permanent Parent (including Aged Parent), Aged Dependent Relative and Remaining Relative visa applicants, an AoS bond of AUD5000 is required for the main applicant. This bond will be held for two years. The AoS bond amount for any adult secondary applicant is AUD2000.
Note: An AUD10 000 financial bond is required for each application if the assurer is an organisation.
Discretionary Assurance of Support
In some other family stream visas (including child visas), a discretionary AoS may be requested where applicants are assessed as being at risk of becoming a charge on Australia’s welfare system. This request is based on consideration of the education, skills, employment history, English language capacity and age of both the visa applicant and sponsor.
Under normal circumstances, an AoS bond is not required for visas with a discretionary AoS. Exceptions apply to cases where the AoS is provided by an organisation other than a state agency.
The income requirements that are to be met by the assurer will depend on:
- the number of assurers, AND
- the number of children of the assurer/s, AND
- the number of adults to be supported under the AoS. .
The income requirements applicable to individuals will not apply to a body or state agency providing an AoS.
Requirements of individuals
A person who gives an AoS must meet the income requirements specified in the Social Security (Assurance of Support) FaHCSIA Determination 2007 Part 4, Division 4.1.
A person who gives an AoS is required to demonstrate a sustained minimum income for the current financial year and the previous financial year.
Example: If the relevant threshold is $40,000 on the day the delegate makes the assessment in the current financial year, the assurer must have had income of $40,000 not only for the current financial year but also for the previous financial year.
‘Assessable income’ of a person for a financial year includes any one or a combination of the following:
- taxable income,
- target foreign income,
- tax free benefit or pension,
- reportable fringe benefits total,
- tax-free salary received during overseas deployment as a member of the Australian Defence Force or Australian Federal Police,
which meets the income threshold during a financial year for the person.
Example: Mr Smith is a veterans’ affairs pensioner. He has taxable income from earnings and investments of $25,000 annually. Mr Smith also receives an annual pension of $15,000 from DVA that is exempt from income tax under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. Mr Smith’s ‘assessable income’ for the purposes of the AoS income test is $40,000: the sum of his taxable income and his non-taxable DVA pension.
Note: A tax-free pension or benefit for the purposes of the AoS Determination is as described in FAAct Schedule 3 clause 7. A NON-TAXABLE PhD LIVING ALLOWANCE is NOT covered by this clause and therefore cannot be assessed as income for a prospective assurer.
Act reference: FAAct Schedule 3 clause 7 Tax free pension or benefit
Evidence of income
The person must provide evidence about the person’s assessable income for each of the following years to Centrelink:
- the current financial year, AND
- the previous year (the most recent financial year), OR
- the financial year before the last.
Where a person cannot provide evidence for either of the 2 previous financial years their income will be taken to be nil.
Evidence for the current financial year
For the current financial year, the person must provide evidence about the person’s assessable income for the part of the financial year up to the date on which the assurance is given, which may include the following:
- a document showing the person’s gross income and period of service or employment, such as a payslip, group certificate, letter from the person’s employer, or contract for service or employment, and/or
- a financial statement or other business record showing the person’s gross and net business income for a specified period.
Only if required – in order to meet the minimum income requirement, documents showing payments of the kind mentioned above in the definition of assessable income should also be provided.
Evidence for a previous year
For either of the first or second financial years, the person must provide the following evidence:
- a notice of assessment issued by the ATO in relation to the person and the year,
- if the notice of assessment issued by the ATO does not disclose sufficient income to satisfy the minimum income requirement, then documents showing payments of the other income forming ‘assessable income’ mentioned above that have been paid to the person in that financial year.
Note: If a person’s assessable income for a financial year meets the minimum income requirement, the person need only provide evidence of the relevant amount of that income.
If the person has not lodged a tax return for the previous year, a letter from the employer giving details about the person’s employment such as, date of commencement of employment, amount of taxable income and contract of employment is required. A self-employed person is required to provide a letter from the accountant. The person will have to provide a notice of assessment issued by the ATO for the financial year before the previous financial year.
Requirements for bodies or state agencies
The income requirement does not apply to assurances provided by a body or state agency.
An AoS that is given by a body or state agency must be given on behalf of the body or state agency by a person who is properly authorised to give the assurance:
- A body or state agency may only give an AoS to a maximum of 2 adult persons at any time.
- A body other than a state agency may only give an AoS that is secured by a bank guarantee or other form of guarantee from a financial institution.
Further information about the income test requirements for assurers is contained in: