Exciting times ahead with the launch of the new Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa
As we embrace 2019 with new changes and challenges in the world of immigration, the Government announced on 1 March 2019 a new Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa which will be open to applications from 17 April 2019. It is indeed pleasant and gratifying news as this new visa will provide a pathway for parents and grandparents to reunite with their families in Australia.
Revisiting the existing pathways
Historically, there have been two options available for bringing a parent to Australia:
- A visitor visa which enabled longer stays in Australia for up to 12 months in any 18-month period
- A parent visa which required the applicant to pass the “balance of family test” and the sponsor to be settled in Australia.
The New Framework
The new framework attempts to address the current community concerns associated with lengthy waiting periods and the much-desired increase in the number of parent visa places in the migration program. This does not mean that it replaces the existing parent and visitor visas, instead, the purpose of the new visa is meant to complement the existing program.
The Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa replaces the Visitor visa concession that exists for parents of Australian citizens/permanent residents to stay in Australia for longer periods. Under the new visa, after a sponsorship application has been approved, a sponsored parent will be able to apply for a Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa.
The new visa has created a pathway for parents to stay for a longer period (up to five years at a time without departing) with their children in Australia. A sigh of relief for taxpayers as well, as this visa ensures protection to taxpayers with strict guidelines to ensure all public health debts including hospital and aged care fees are recovered by the Government.
Further, the Balance of Family test under the old visa will not apply, and there will be a ‘no work’ condition, whilst health insurance will be required for the parent with the sponsor having to provide evidence of access to funds.
Capping the number at 15,000 for each program year
The Government has set a ceiling on the number of Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visas that may be granted to 15,000. This number reflects the nations growing concern for an ageing population and the overall budget impact of older migrants. Focus right now seems to be on young skilled migrants and to provide visa pathways for children and partners of Australians.
Do you meet the eligibility criteria?
To be eligible for the visa, a parent must be the biological, adoptive, or step-parent of the sponsor, who must be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen. In addition, all sponsors must
- be at least 18 years of age,
- usually has been a resident for 4 years,
- have met any prior sponsorship obligations,
- have no adverse information,
- have no debts to the Commonwealth or public health debts
- minimum household income threshold
- provide police clearances
- authorise information to be shared with the visa applicant.
Sponsors obligations under the new visa
- providing financial support and accommodation for their parent in Australia
- keeping records and providing them to the Department if asked.
- advising the Department when certain events occur.
- paying outstanding public health debts incurred by their parent in Australia.
Validity of the sponsorship
Sponsorship will cease in the following events:
- sponsor’s permanent visa is cancelled
- sponsor dies
- sponsor withdraws their sponsorship
- if the sponsored parent does not apply for a Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa within six months of the sponsorship being approved
- the day that the Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa ceases.
However, some sponsor obligations will continue even after the sponsorship ceases, including the obligation to pay any outstanding health debts incurred by the visa holder in Australia, even after their visa has ceased.
The visa application charge:
- $5,000 for a visa of up to three years’ duration; or
- $10,000 for a visa of up to five years’ duration.
This is payable in two instalments, with one payment at the time of application and the remainder paid prior to visa grant.
The way forward
To navigate through the ever-changing and complex migration landscape has never been plain sailing. The new parent visa has steered some debate among Australians and is not without criticism due to the substantial charge. While the visa allows a significantly longer stay period than a visitor visa, it is still only a temporary visa. However, certainly the new visa has paved a way forward for parents to live and be closer to their children for a longer period of time.