New visa for parents of Australian migrants to be available in 2019

Promised in 2016, but stalled until related legislation was passed, the temporary sponsored parent visa is now available to migrants. Although hugely welcomed, some opposition and migrant groups are unhappy the visa is different from what was initially promised.

After an almost three-year delay, the Australian Government has now made the temporary sponsored visa for parents available to migrants. Stalled until related legislation was passed, the amended Migration Amendments (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 includes a visa which will allow parents of migrants to stay in Australia for a period of up to five years.

Migrants can sponsor their parents for a three-year visa at a cost of $5,000 or a five-year visa at a cost of $10,000. There is also an opportunity for a single renewal. Migrant couples can sponsor only one set of parents for this visa. The number of temporary parent visas available annually is capped at 15,000.

“This new visa will help families reunite and spend time together,” Immigration Minister David Coleman said in a statement. “It will provide a new pathway for parents and grandparents to visit their families in Australia, which will deliver great social benefits to the Australian community.”

Shadow Immigration Minister Shayne Neumann however, said the Government should deliver the visa that it promised before the 2016 Federal election and not the “revised version” which included conditions that were not originally part of the promised visa.

He singled out the condition that limits migrant couples only being allowed to apply for one set of parents.

“Conditions like this would force families to choose which parents or in-laws they reunite with. Labor had previously written to the new Immigration Minister David Coleman expressing these concerns and their impacts,” Mr Neumann said.

Another aspect of the visa which has upset migrant groups who actively campaigned for it during the run-up to the last Federal election is the high costs. They were originally promised a sponsored parent visa that would allow parents of migrants to live in Australia for a continuous period of up to five years with no idea of the price tag the Government would put on it.

“I don’t know if many migrants will be keen on this visa for their parents, but I certainly won’t suggest anyone go for it. It just doesn’t make sense to pay such exorbitant visa fee,” said Jujhar Bajwa, a migration agent in Melbourne.

Additionally, Mr Bajwa says visitor visas allow parents to live in Australia for up to two years in a period of three years for a small fraction of the new visa’s cost and do not have such “cumbersome” requirements.

“The high fee isn’t the only issue, there’s a mandatory requirement for private health insurance from an Australian provider and in case the parents incur a healthcare debt, the sponsoring children are legally obliged to pay it back despite paying such huge fee. Whereas in the normal visitor visas, there’s no such provision,” he says.

Mr. Bajwa’s observations are sure to be shared by many migrant families in Australia who were looking forward to finally extending their family life in their new home country. It will be interesting to see how many of those 15,000 temporary sponsor parent visa remain unclaimed at the end of the year.