220.127.116.11 Introduction to the AoS scheme
The primary objective of the AoS scheme is to protect social security outlays while allowing the migration of people who might otherwise not normally be permitted to come to Australia. Visa applicants (assurees) with a high likelihood of requiring income support, for example, in the family reunion categories, are permitted to migrate to Australia on condition that an assurer, an Australian resident, assumes:
- financial responsibility for the new arrival's (the assuree's) support for the duration of the new arrival's AoS period, and
- responsibility for the repayment of any recoverable social security payments received by the assuree during the AoS period.
The AoS scheme is required despite the 4-year NARWP policy because a person may be eligible for an exemption from the NARWP, for example, if a person's circumstances change beyond their control after arrival in Australia and is in financial hardship, they may receive an exemption from the NARWP for SpB.
Recoverable social security payments
Recoverable social security payments under the AoS scheme are:
- jobseeker payment
- newstart allowance (no longer paid from 20 March 2020)
- youth allowance
- austudy payment
- widow allowance (closed to new entrants from 1 July 2018)
- mature age allowance (no longer paid)
- partner allowance
- sickness allowance (closed to new entrants from 20 March 2020)
- parenting payment, and
- special benefit.
New payments may be added to the list in the future and may also be recoverable.
The following are also recoverable if they are received with one of the payments listed above:
- crisis payment
- education entry payment
- pensioner education supplement
- fares allowance
- language, literacy and numeracy supplement
- utilities allowance
- telephone allowance
- approved program of work supplement, and
- certain supplementary payments if the primary payment is recoverable, such as RA, pension supplement, RAA and PhA.
If the assuree receives any of these social security payments during the period in which the AoS is in effect, the full amount paid to the assuree becomes a debt to the Australian Government, and is to be repaid by the assurer.
Act reference: SSAct Chapter 2C Assurances of support, section 1061ZZGA What is an assurance of support?, section 1061ZZGG Liability to pay for social security payments, section 1227 Assurance of support debt
Types of assurances of support
Please note that not all visas require an AoS. The Department of Home Affairs decides which visa applications require an AoS. If an AoS is requested by the Department of Home Affairs, it must be provided.
There are 2 types of assurances of support:
- mandatory - security required, and
- discretionary - security not required.
If the visa applied for by the migrant carries a mandatory AoS provision, the migrant must arrange for an acceptable AoS to be provided, including the lodgement of a security for the required amount by way of a bank guarantee.
If the visa applied for carries a discretionary AoS requirement, The Department of Home Affairs will decide whether the migrant requires an AoS. In discretionary cases, no lodgement of a security is required.
If an AoS is given by corporations or unincorporated bodies (such as community organisations), a security in the form of a bank guarantee must be provided. This applies to all visas subject to an AoS, irrespective of whether the AoS requirement is mandatory or discretionary, except for the Community Support Programme, which does not require a bank guarantee.