A discussion paper has been released by the Australian Government proposing the introduction of a new temporary parent visa.
The proposal is in response to a Productivity Commission report on Migrant Intake into Australia which indicated that the lifetime cost for permanent parent visa holders was over $300,000 in terms of health and community services. This strongly suggests that the application fees for permanent parent visas will be increased in the near future.
The proposed visa gives an extended stay for parents of Australian permanent residents and citizens as an alternative to the current permanent parent options.
This article gives some details of the proposed visa – please note that the information below may be subject to change once the consultation process has been completed.
Parents would need to be sponsored by an Australian child. This would need to be done prior to making the visa application, and the sponsor would need to show that they are of good character.
The sponsor would need to show that they have lived in and “contributed” to Australia for some time. It is not clear at this stage what is meant by “contributed” but it would appear that the sponsor will need to show evidence of their taxable income and show that they are able to financially support their parents. The discussion paper indicates that the longer the sponsor contributes to Australia, the higher priority they will receive when sponsoring their parents.
The visa will be valid for up to 5 years, but could be granted for a shorter period – say 1 or 3 years. The period of validity appears to be discretionary – and may depend on:
- Health and age of applicant
- Immigration history
- Financial capacity of the applicant or sponsor – for example the validity period may be longer if the parent is financially independent
- Needs of the applicant or sponsor – for example if the parent is being sponsored to help with caring for children, this need may reduce as children get older
Applicants will need to undertake medicals and show that they meet the health criteria. We envisage that this would be similar to the current arrangements for health checks for temporary visas. Under this system, the required health checks depend on the intended duration of stay and the risk level of the country of passport and residence.
Full private health insurance will be required and this would need to be taken out through an Australian health insurance company.
Assurance of Support Bond
A bond would be required, and this would need to be sufficient to cover a parent’s potentially health costs for the period of stay. Any costs to the Australian government for health care or other services would be paid for out of the bond.
The bond could be in one of the following forms:
- A contingent loan: this would be similar to the Higher Education Loan Program and would see the sponsor pay back any costs through the tax system.
- Investment in state or territory bonds: on maturity, the bond would be repaid, less any incurred costs
- Enforceable legally binding agreement
Visa Application Fee
Whilst there is no indication of the likely fee, the paper suggests that this could be quite high as the charge would need to address the impact on infrastructure and services.
The discussion paper suggests that the visa may require applicants to show that they have at least functional English, or that they are improving their English language ability over time.
Renewing the Visa
The paper indicates that the applicant will need to be outside Australia when lodging a renewal of the visa. It is not clear at this stage whether the applicant need to be outside Australia when making the initial application.
Effect on Parent Visa Applications
The discussion paper indicates that applying for the new visa will not have any effect on the ability to apply for a permanent parent visa. This also implies that permanent parent visas will still be available after the new visa is introduced. However, the concerns expressed in the Productivity Commission report suggests that the application fees for permanent parent visas may be increased to address the cost to the community.