Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period (NARWP) for Welfare Payments in Australia

If you are a new entrant with a relevant visa and are entitled to welfare payments in Australia, did you know you may have some waiting period before you are entitled to claim these benefits?

It wasn’t always the case, but it all changed at the end of 2017 when the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook made three key changes that affect how migrants get access to government services.

The three changes to the welfare payments wait period are:

1. A three-year wait for access to key payments including Family Tax Benefit, Paid Parental Leave and Carer Allowance.

2. The extension of the two years waiting period for Newstart and Youth Allowance from two years to three years.

3. The extension of the ‘Assurance of Support’ requirement. To back up a family visa application, someone can agree to financially back a migrant for two years, and this period has now been extended to three years.

It all kicked off on 1 July 2017, with the aim of saving the government over a billion dollars over the next few years.

By 2020, 50,000 migrant families will be serving these waiting periods, in addition to about 30,000 more who are waiting for a range of other government payments

The migrants most affected are the working-age people and migrants who may be eligible for payments like Austudy, Sickness Allowance and Special Benefit. Everyone sitting in a ‘waiting period’ will not be paid any of that benefit for the duration, even if they otherwise qualify.

One exception is Parenting Payment, where an applicant doesn’t have to serve an actual ‘waiting period’ but instead has to show they have been living in Australia for two years. But for a new arrival, the effect of the residency requirement is effectively the same as a waiting period.

Read the earlier article on CENTRELINK WELFARE PAYMENTS

Some Q&A on the welfare payments wait period in Australia:

Q: Are these waiting periods new?

A: No. Waiting periods were introduced for some payments by a Labor government in 1993, but it was only 26 weeks. The subsequent Coalition government extended it to 104 weeks in 1997, and included other payments as well.

Q: When does the waiting period start?

A: The waiting period begins either on the date of arrival in Australia or the date on which permanent residency was granted – whichever is later.

Q: Are any migrants exempt?

A: Yes. The group not subject to the waiting period includes refugees, humanitarian entrants, and some single parents.

Q: What about pensioners?

A: If a migrant is applying for the Age Pension, they must have lived in Australia for at least ten years. It’s the same for those applying for the Disability Support Pension.

Q: What about permanent migrants?

A: If the migrant is a permanent Australian resident, the waiting periods do not apply for many payments including Family Tax Benefit.

MIGRANT NINJA TIP  – One of the important exceptions to this ‘Wait Period” rule is applicable for migrants with dependent children which states –  migrants who experience a substantial change of circumstances during their waiting period, and are in financial hardship, will continue to have access to Special Benefit as well as Family Tax Benefit if they have dependent children.

USEFUL RESOURCES RELATING TO WELFARE PAYMENTS IN AUSTRALIA

Information for migrants, refugees and visitors: LINK

Eligibility for payments: LINK

Updates about living in Australia: LINK

News for migrants: LINK

Information about the waiting periods: LINK

Accessing help: LINK

MIGRANT NINJA TIP – In the 2018-19 Budget, the Government announced more changes to the Wait Period for Welfare Payments in Australia. The proposal is that Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period (NARWP) should be further extended. Pending the passage of legislation, the NARWP will be extended to four years for a number of welfare payments, including Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance, Family Tax Benefit and the Paid Parental Leave Scheme.

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