220.127.116.11 Overview of the AoS scheme
Certain visa applicants are required to obtain an AoS as part of their visa conditions. The AoS is a legally binding commitment by an Australian resident (the assurer) to:
- financially support the visa applicant (the assuree) for the duration of the AoS period, and
- repay any recoverable social security payments received by the assuree during the AoS period.
A single AoS can be provided by up to 3 assurers. Where 2 or 3 assurers provide the AoS, this is called a joint AoS. Under a joint AoS, all the assurers sign the AoS, and are held equally liable for any social security debts that arise as a result of the AoS.
Types of AoS
Not all visas require an AoS. The Department of Home Affairs is responsible for determining whether an AoS requirement applies and notifying the visa applicant.
There are 2 types of AoS:
- mandatory, and
If a visa has a mandatory AoS requirement, this means all applicants for that visa type must obtain an AoS in order to be granted the visa. Where a mandatory AoS requirement applies, a security for the required amount must be lodged by way of a bank guarantee as part of the AoS.
If a visa has a discretionary AoS requirement, this means the Department of Home Affairs has the discretion to decide whether a particular applicant requires an AoS. In discretionary cases, no lodgment of a security is required.
The following table outlines the visa types that have an AoS requirement.
|Subclass number||Visa name||AoS type|
|143||Contributory Parent (Migrant) (Class CA)||Mandatory|
|864||Contributory Aged Parent (Residence) (Class DG)||Mandatory|
|114||Aged Dependent Relative||Mandatory|
|838||Aged Dependent Relative||Mandatory|
|202||Global Special Humanitarian (only if issued under the Community Support Program)||Discretionary|
Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZZGA What is an assurance of support?
Impact of the AoS
- an AoS is in force
- their assurer is likely to be willing and able to provide an adequate level of support to the assuree, and
- it would be reasonable for the assuree to accept that support.
If a person's assurer is no longer willing and/or able to provide adequate support or it would not be reasonable for the person to accept that support (e.g. in cases of domestic violence), the person may qualify for these payments, subject to meeting all other requirements.
Act reference: SSAct section 500B Qualification – assurance of support, section 552B Assurance of support, section 578B Assurance of support, section 596A Assurance of support, section 1061JK CrP not payable if assurance of support in force
Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.A.310 Assuree, assurer, assurance of support, assurance of support security
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 (closed to new recipients from 20 September 2003 and completely phased out from 19 September 2008)
- 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 force, the full amount paid to the assuree becomes a debt to the Australian Government, and is to be repaid by the assurer.