The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication intended only as a guide to social security payments. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

9.4.1.20 History of the AoS scheme

Administration of the scheme prior to 30 June 2004

Prior to 30 June 2004, the AoS scheme was administered by the Department of Home Affairs under the Migration Regulations 1994. The Department of Home Affairs assessed the visa application and if the potential migrant was required to provide an AoS, the Department of Home Affairs advised the migrant to find an assurer.

The Department of Home Affairs assessed the potential assurer's suitability, based on their potential to repay the amount of any recoverable social security payments to the Australian Government.

If the migrant received any recoverable social security payments, Centrelink recovered the amount paid to the migrant from the assurer under SSAct section 1227.

The power to waive any debts arising from the AoS was contained within SSAct section 1237.

Administration of the scheme from 1 July 2004

From 1 July 2004, the AoS scheme has been administered by DSS through Services Australia.

The Department of Home Affairs continues to decide whether a potential migrant requires an AoS.

The assessment of potential assurers is now conducted by Services Australia. Services Australia approves the AoS, and notifies the Department of Home Affairs whether approval has been given.

In mandatory AoS cases where a security is required, the assurer has to deposit the required security in a fixed deposit with the CBA and produce the relevant fixed deposit certificate as evidence to Services Australia before the AoS can be approved.

Services Australia continues to administer the debt recovery and waiver processes, and the assurer's rights of review, under the SSAct.

Changes to the scheme from 1 January 2008

Improvements to the operation of the AoS scheme were introduced with effect from 1 January 2008, under the Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Legislation Amendment (Further 2007 Budget Measures) Act 2007.

Some key changes to the AoS scheme effective from 1 January 2008 were:

  • removal of mandatory and discretionary AoS from all skilled visa subclasses and carer visa subclasses 116 and 836
  • for mandatory AoS cases where security is required, a bank guarantee from the CBA must be obtained and evidence of this bank guarantee provided to Services Australia before the AoS can be approved
  • a simpler formula for income thresholds and changes to allowable income to include fringe benefits, foreign income, tax free pensions or benefits etc.
  • organisations exempt from the income test, and
  • security for the 2 year AoS increased to $5,000 for primary applicant and $2,000 for secondary applicant.

The Social Security (Assurances of Support) (FaHCSIA) Determination 2007 gave effect to these changes from 1 January 2008.

Changes to the scheme from 1 January 2012

With effect from 1 January 2012, amendments to SSAct and the Social Security (Class of Visas - Newly Arrived Resident's Waiting Period for Special Benefit) Determination 2011 changed access to SpB for temporary visa subclass holders 309, 820, 310 and 826.

As a result of the SSAct changes, since 1 January 2012, the discretionary requirement for an AoS has been removed from the Migration Regulations for temporary visa subclasses 309 and 820, temporary visa subclass 300 (prospective marriage), and the permanent visa subclasses 100 and 801.

Any AoS that had been accepted for a Spouse/Partner category visa that was granted on or before 31 December 2011 remained in place.

Note: Prior to 1 July 2009, the Spouse/Partner visa category included Interdependency visas (subclasses 310, 110, 826, and 814). The Interdependency visas were repealed subsequent to the introduction of the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws-General Law Reform) Act 2008, and they and Spouse visas are no longer available to new applicants, who are now given Partner visas. The Department of Home Affairs advised in late 2011 that there were no outstanding 310 Interdependency visa applications yet to be decided, but there were some 110, 826 and 814 Interdependency visa applications yet to be decided. As it was unlikely the Department of Home Affairs would be able to amend the Migration Regulations to remove the AoS requirement on repealed visas, the Department of Home Affairs advised this caseload would be managed through policy, and the Department of Home Affairs case officers would be advised to not request an AoS for the repealed visas.

Changes to the scheme from 1 April 2018

The Social Security (Assurances of Support) Determination 2018 (the determination) commenced on 1 April 2018 and replaced the Social Security (Assurance of Support) (DEEWR) Determination 2008 and the Social Security (Assurance of Support) (FaHCSIA) Determination 2007.

The determination introduced a 12-month AoS for humanitarian entrants under the Community Support Program (CSP). The CSP was introduced on 1 July 2017 and allows humanitarian entrants (i.e. applicants for a subclass 202 Global Special Humanitarian visa) to be sponsored by individuals, community organisations and business groups through Approved Proposing Organisations. Sponsors are responsible for providing adequate support to CSP entrants for the first 12 months in Australia.

The determination also significantly changed the way income requirements for assurers were calculated, and made other changes to the AoS scheme including:

  • potential assurers were required to be in Australia at the time of making the application
  • a person who has an outstanding debt due to the Commonwealth was ineligible to provide an AoS, and
  • an increase in the value of securities required for a mandatory AoS to apply from 1 April 2019.

The determination was subsequently amended by the Social Security (Assurances of Support) Amendment Determination 2018, which removed the majority of these changes with effect from 1 April 2018.

As a result, the AoS scheme reverted back to the pre-1 April 2018 arrangements, except for the requirement of a 12-month AoS for humanitarian entrants under the CSP.

Changes to the scheme from 1 January 2019

From 1 January 2019, the AoS period changed for certain visas under the Social Security (Assurances of Support) Amendment Determination 2018 (No.2). In line with changes to the NARWP, the AoS period increased from 2 years to 4 years for the following visa types:

  • Subclass 103 – Parent
  • Subclass 114 – Aged Dependent Relative
  • Subclass 804 – Aged Parent
  • Subclass 838 – Aged Dependent Relative
  • Subclass 101 – Child
  • Subclass 102 – Adoption
  • Subclass 151 – Former Resident
  • Subclass 802 – Child visa.

There was no change to the AoS period for subclass 143 and subclass 864 Contributory Parent visas (which remained 10 years), for humanitarian entrants under the CSP (which remained 12 months), for subclass 115 and subclass 835 Remaining Relative visas (which remained 2 years) or for subclass 117 and subclass 837 Orphan Relative visas (which also remained 2 years).

Changes to the scheme from 3 March 2021

The Social Security (Assurances of Support) Determination 2018 was due to self-repeal on 31 March 2021.

The Social Security (Assurance of Support) Amendment Determination 2021 extended the current determination from 31 March 2021 to 31 March 2024 and made 2 minor technical changes to:

  • clarify the bond amount for organisations providing a 4 years AoS is $10,000, and
  • replace references to NSA with JSP.

Changes to the scheme from 1 July 2022

Changes to the AoS scheme were introduced as part of the Reform of Settlement and Services measure originally announced in the 2021-22 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO). From 1 July 2022, the Social Security (Assurances of Support) Amendment Determination 2022 increased the number of Community Support Program (CSP) entrants an individual or body can sponsor under an AoS from:

  • 2 to 4 adults for individuals (no limit on children), and
  • 2 to 15 adults for bodies (no limit on children).

Additional changes were introduced through the 2022 Amendment Determination to clarify what is required for a body to demonstrate capacity to support an adult under an AoS to line with existing policy and practice (known as the 'profit' test) at time of application. An alternative means for bodies to demonstrate a capacity to support was also introduced where they have at least $5,000 in readily available funds per adult they are seeking to sponsor. These additional changes apply to any body seeking to provide an AoS and are not limited just to bodies providing an AoS for a CSP entrant.

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