Community Support Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How does the Community Support Program (CSP) work?
The Department of Home Affairs (formerly the Department of Immigration & Border Protection) has appointed Approved Proposing Organisations (APOs) to administer the CSP, including AMES Australia. APOs select appropriate Australian Supporters and Visa Applicants to propose for humanitarian visa applications. APOs lodge these humanitarian visa applications, then support and monitor the settlement of the CSP entrants for 12 months from their arrival in Australia.
The APOs ensure costs relating to the visa are paid by the individuals or organisations putting the visa applicants forward. APOs are also responsible (in partnership with Humanitarian Settlement Program providers) for overseeing the delivery of settlement support for the successful applicants for up to 12 months after arriving in Australia, and for monitoring and reporting on the settlement of entrants to the Department of Home Affairs. For further information on the CSP, please refer to the Department of Home Affair’s CSP website: https://homeaffairs.gov.au/csp
What are Approved Proposing Organisations (APOs)?
Who are Australian Supporters?
Australian Supporters are community members (including individuals and families), businesses and community organisations which enter into arrangements with APOs to propose people overseas for humanitarian visas to Australia, and to support them with their settlement after they arrive. Australian Supporters must be permanent residents or citizens of Australia. Australian Supporters share their knowledge and experience of life in Australia with their visa entrants, supporting their settlement and helping them to become independent. Australian Supporters cover the fees and costs associated with their CSP application, and provide financial support to their proposed visa applicants once they arrive and until they are financially independent (up to 12 months after arrival).
Who are CSP visa applicants / entrants?
CSP visa applicants (also referred to as entrants once they arrive) are people who are proposed for visas in the CSP by their Australian Supporter via an APO. They must align with the regional, global and settlement priorities of the Australian Government, the priorities of the CSP, and be able to satisfy all Class XB subclass 202 visa criteria. For more information on this subclass see here.
Only APOs may propose applicants under the CSP.
Potential CSP applicants are not required to have existing links to Australia, and can be identified by an individual (such as a family member in Australia), a community organisation or a business with an interest in supporting refugees (known as ‘Australian supporter’).
The APO will screen potential applicants and Australian supporters against the requirements of the CSP and ensure suitable support is available for the applicant before lodging a visa application.
APOs can only propose applicants who are from The Department of Home Affairs CSP priority groups:
Primary Visa Applicants aged between 18 and 50
Applicants which follow the Department's Offshore Humanitarian Caseload priorities
Are 'job ready': have an offer of employment (or a demonstrated pathway that leads to employment)
Have an adequate level of English
Have personal attributes that would enable them to become financially self-sufficient within 12 months of arrival
Are willing to live and work in regional Australia.
What is an adequate level of English in the CSP?
‘Adequate English’ means that a Primary Visa Applicant speaks enough English to be able to manage their basic needs in Australia and to perform their proposed employment competently and safely. AMES requires Supporters to provide evidence of Primary Applicants’ English ability during the selection process. AMES also expects any CSP applicants we accept to be actively studying English (where possible) during the processing of their visa application, and to participate in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) in addition to working following their arrival in Australia.
What is AMES Australia’s model for the CSP, and what are the costs?
AMES Australia’s model for the CSP involves costs at different stages throughout the process.
The costs consist of:
- AMES Australia’s administration fees – payable to AMES Australia;
- AMES Australia’s bond (may be refunded 12 months after arrival of CSP entrants) – payable to AMES Australia;
- Visa Application Charges (VAC) – payable to the Department of Home Affairs (via AMES);
- Humanitarian Settlement Program fees – payable to the relevant HSP Provider (via AMES);
- Assurance of Support (AOS) – Not a fee or payment: it is an agreement between a person(s) (Assurer) and Centrelink to repay the cost of any recoverable benefits paid by Centrelink to the CSP entrants, for example JobSeeker Payment. AMES Australia expects Supporters to provide financial assistance to entrants until they are financially self-sufficient, and we expect that the AOS will not be drawn upon unless necessary.
- Medical checks – payable to the health service provider in the applicant’s country of residence;
- Airfares – payable to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) or airline of choice;
- Miscellaneous costs dependent on country of residence e.g. cost to courier Immicards; cost of pre-departure transit or accommodation if required; cost of on-arrival transit, accommodation, or hotel quarantine (if required), etc.;
- Costs associated with accommodation and settlement in Australia, until such time the Visa Applicants are financially self-sufficient.
Below is AMES' model for the CSP for applications lodged after 1 July 2023:
What is an Assurance of Support (AOS)?
A mandatory Assurance of Support (AOS) is required for adult CSP applicants. The AOS an agreement between a person(s) known as the Assurer(s) and Centrelink, that the Assurer(s) will repay the cost of any recoverable benefits paid by Centrelink to the Visa Applicants. For example, if a CSP entrant was to request and receive a ‘recoverable payment’ such as JobSeeker Payment from Centrelink, their Assurer would be required to repay that benefit to Centrelink.
Points to note about AOS:
A mandatory AOS is required for 12 months after CSP entrants have arrived
An Assurer can only provide an AOS for a maximum of 4 adult Visa Applicants; if an application includes more than 4 adults, more Assurers will be necessary
An Assurer must be a permanent resident or citizen
CSP Supporters can also be Assurers if they are eligible
Assurers and must earn enough taxable income to meet the relevant income test, the required income threshold according to how many children an Assurer has under 18
Bank guarantees are not available as an AOS option for the CSP
It is possible to have joint or combined Assurers (multiple people acting as 1 Assurer), however the income threshold increases as each Assurer is added
Assurers must be up to date with their tax returns at the time they apply for the AOS
The AOS is requested and applied for during the visa processing, however APOs must confirm that Supporters have willing and eligible Assurers before lodging visa applications
For more information on the mandatory AOS for CSP applicants please refer to https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/assurance
How does AMES Australia select applicants for the CSP?
AMES Australia selects applicants for the CSP through an Expression of Interest (EOI) process. We assess EOIs according to the following criteria:
- The strength of the Primary applicant’s humanitarian claim
- The suitability of the applicants for the CSP (according the Department of Home Affairs’ priorities)
- AMES Australia’s capacity and priorities
Are there any circumstances where AMES won’t accept my EOI?
We can only accept EOIs that align with the Department of Home Affairs’ priorities for the CSP. There is also a large demand for the CSP, and unfortunately AMES cannot proceed with all suitable EOIs that we receive. We will only accept EOIs within our operational capacity, and we apply our own quotas to manage our workload and the types of applications we accept. It is at our discretion whether we accept an EOI or not.
AMES Australia may also refuse some EOIs with complex circumstances, or matters we believe have a high risk of visa refusal. In particular, AMES Australia will not approve EOIs with the following:
Dependency issues: Secondary Visa Applicants must be dependent on the Primary Visa Applicant
- If a Secondary Visa Applicant is currently married (not to the Primary Visa Applicant): the law in regards to this visa deems that a married Secondary Applicant is dependent on their spouse. For example, a Primary Visa Applicant cannot include their parents as Secondary Visa Applicants. Exceptions may be possible where there is evidence available that the Secondary Visa Applicant is divorced or widowed.
- If an adult Secondary Visa Applicant is independent (for example: doesn’t live with the Primary Visa Applicant, or is financially independent).
Custody issues: AMES Australia will refuse EOIs which include a child under 18 unless both biological parents are included in the application; or unless evidence can be provided that a single parent included in the application has legal custody of the child under 18.
Previous CSP or Humanitarian visa refusals: AMES will refuse EOIs for visa applicants who have been previously refused visas under the CSP. We will also refuse EOIs for visa applicants who have been previously refused Humanitarian visas (with the exception of the reason for refusal due to Australia’s capacity i.e. not enough visa places).
How do I lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) to AMES Australia for the CSP?
If you wish to be an Australian Supporter for someone overseas, you can apply by lodging an Expression of Interest (EOI) with AMES Australia through our website during our specified EOI period (as advised on our website). EOIs will not be accepted outside this timeframe, or via any other method than through this website. Lodgement of an EOI for the CSP with AMES Australia requires payment of a fee of $275, which is non-refundable. This payment must be made through the payment facility on the AMES Australia website when lodging the EOI.
Due to the large demand for the CSP, and to ensure fairness and consistency for potential EOI applicants, AMES Australia does not take appointments or discuss specific EOIs. Eligibility for the CSP is complicated, and the purpose of our EOI process is to allow us to assess whether potential applicants are suitable for the CSP.
Please read our website https://www.ames.net.au/community-support-program carefully, along with the Department of Home Affairs’ CSP website https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/csp before enquiring with us.
For enquiries about the CSP with AMES Australia:
- Call 13 26 37 and select option 6; or
- Write to us through the ‘Contact Us’ form on our website
- Use the ‘Live Chat' on our website (bottom right corner of the page)
How will I find out the result of my EOI to AMES Australia?
Supporters who have lodged EOIs will be contacted by email after the EOI period has closed to advise whether:
- Their EOI has progressed and they have been invited to a Stage B case meeting; or
- AMES Australia requires further information to assess their EOI; or
- Their EOI has been unsuccessful
Please note that progression to a Stage B case meeting does not guarantee that AMES Australia will lodge a CSP application.
AMES Australia will endeavour to contact all EOI applicants by email within 12 weeks of the closing date of the EOI period.
AMES Australia will not discuss, or provide feedback regarding unsuccessful EOIs.
What happens after a visa application is lodged?
The Department of Home Affairs will advise the person or people being proposed via the APO that the application has been received and it may request more information if it is required.
Applicants be required to attend an interview; undergo medical and police checks, and respond to various requests by the Department of Home Affairs. More information will be provided at key stages in the processing to clarify details and advise when a decision is made. Applicants may supply more information relating to their application in writing at any time during the process.
Regarding the Covid-19 pandemic: Any visa applications lodged during the Covid-19 pandemic will be held in Australia with the Department of Home Affairs until the overseas offices can resume normal visa processing.
How long does it take to process an application under the CSP?
Selection and preparation of application by AMES: This depends on our operational capacity, as well as the responsiveness of the Supporter (e.g. we will require the Supporter to provide documents to be included in the application). This process can take some months.
Visa assessment and processing by the Department of Home Affairs: Once a visa application is lodged, processing times vary depending on the circumstances of the individual application, and a range of factors determined by the Department of Home Affairs and their respective overseas offices which process the visa applications. Applicants will be required to meet the normal criteria for a humanitarian visa, including health, character and security requirements, along with the Department's requirements for the CSP. APOs have no control or influence over the processing times, or decisions on visa applications.
Arrangements for arrival: After visas are granted some arrangements need to be made by the government of the country of residence (e.g. issuing exit permits); the overseas embassies (e.g. arranging Immicards); and the International Organization for Migration, the IOM (arranging travel). The Supporter is responsible for making these arrangements through the IOM, with guidance from AMES. These processes can also take a few months.
Regarding the Covid-19 pandemic: Any visa applications lodged during the Covid-19 pandemic will be held in Australia with the Department of Home Affairs until the overseas offices can resume normal visa processing. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the average visa processing time for Humanitarian visas was 18 months. It is possible that visa processing time might be longer than expected when the normal visa processing resumes.
Who approves or rejects visa applications?
Visa applications are considered and decided upon by the Department of Home Affairs. The Department of Home Affairs may alter the CSP, or their priorities in the CSP at any time without notice, which may affect the success of pending visa applications.
What if a visa application is unsuccessful?
Fees and associated costs paid to AMES Australia and the Department of Home Affairs up to the time of the refusal of the visa application will not be refunded.
Applicants who have been unsuccessful under the CSP may apply for humanitarian entry under Australia’s normal humanitarian program.
What happens after CSP entrants arrive in Australia?
Australian Supporters are primarily responsible for the settlement needs of CSP entrants for 12 months after their arrival, with support and guidance provided by AMES Australia. AMES Australia staff will meet the Visa Applicants post-arrival on a quarterly basis to monitor their settlement and report to the Department of Home Affairs. In addition, CSP entrants will receive support through the three mandatory services of the Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) for the CSP, provided by their local HSP provider: a Case Management Plan, and 6 and 12 month assessment interviews. CSP arrivals are not funded for HSP services beyond these three mandatory services which are paid for by Supporters.
What other support is available to CSP arrivals?
Successful applicants under the CSP arrive as permanent residents, and are entitled to:
- 510 hours of free Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) classes
- Adult, Community & Further Education Board (ACFE) funded education and training
- Settlement Engagement Transition Support (SETS) program services
What happens if a Supporter can’t support a CSP entrant after arrival?
AMES Australia will work with the Supporter and entrants to ensure their settlement needs are met. It is AMES’ preference to avoid using the Supporter’s bond, however If necessary AMES will use all or part of that bond to help provide the settlement support needed by the applicant(s). In a worst case scenario, the entrants can access income support from Centrelink, however this would incur a debt to their Assurer(s).
Does AMES Australia arrange employment for CSP entrants?
AMES Australia gives preference to CSP Primary Visa Applicants (via their Supporters) who can demonstrate they have genuine offers of employment in accordance with Australian workplace laws, or a detailed pathway that leads to employment (a thorough employment plan). If a CSP entrant’s proposed employment does not eventuate after they arrive, AMES expects the Supporter and entrant to work toward obtaining alternative employment, with guidance provided by AMES. If the Primary CSP entrant has not been able to obtain employment after significant effort and a significant period of time, AMES may use some or part of the bond to assist them in obtaining employment. It is AMES’ preference to refund the Supporter’s bond 12 months after the CSP entrants' arrival, as using the bond does not guarantee employment. In addition, AMES may connect Employers (who have expressed interest to AMES) with suitably matched CSP entrants where possible.
Does AMES Australia arrange accommodation for CSP entrants?
No, we do not arrange accommodation for entrants, therefore our fees exclude any charge for accommodation. We require Supporters to arrange accommodation for their CSP entrants. We ask Supporters to outline their plan to provide accommodation in their EOI. We also require Supporters to provide evidence that they are in secure accommodation themselves, and evidence of their financial capacity before we proceed with lodging visas on their behalf.
- Call 13 26 37 and select option 6;
- Write to us through the ‘Contact Us’ form on our website; or
- Use the ‘Live Chat' on our website (bottom right corner of the page)