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Just how fair is the new 870 Visa?

The concept of parent visas has become to an extent somewhat redundant in Australian Immigration. Broadly speaking there are two visa categories available for parents wishing to join or visit their children:

Contributory Parent Visas
Non-Contributory Parent Visas
Both visas carry major flaws and impracticalities. The average wait time for non-contributory parent visa is now in excess of 30 years whereas other family visas carry a wait time of in excess of 50 years.

The contributory parent visa requires a payment of approximately $45,000 per applicant to be made payable to Home Affairs for the visa to be granted. For two parents, the cost is in excess of $90,000.

The most significant difference between the two categories lies in the waiting periods for applications to be processed and approved. This is attributed to the fact that program caps apply to both visa categories. The Migration Act contains provisions which allow the Minister to cap the numbers of visas that are granted in a financial year.

Section 85 of the Migration Act indicates that certain visas may be subject to capping and queuing and Parent visas are subject to Direction No. 62 which allows prioritising applications in the context of planning levels for the financial year.

The cap only ever applies to that particular year so it may change from year to year. When the numbers for the cap is reached, and no further visas are granted for the rest of the program year, applicants are placed in a queue and are allocated a place once a place becomes available.

870 Visa

The new Sponsored parent visa can be considered as a “refresher” to the redundant Australian parent visa scheme. As with any visa, there are of course certain requirements which must be met in order for the visa to be granted.

The temporary sponsored parent visa is designed to allow the parents of Australians to spend longer periods of time with their children in Australia without placing additional burden on Australia’s health care system. The introduction of the temporary sponsored parent visa finally passed the Senate on and introduced Migration Amendment (Family Violence and other Measures) Bill 2016 (the Bill) through Parliament. Applications to sponsor a parent for a Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa are open from 17 April 2019. Once a sponsorship application has been approved, a sponsored parent will be able to apply for a Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa. Applications for the visa will open from 1 July 2019.

To be approved as a sponsor, the applicant must demonstrate that they meet the following:

  • be a biological, adoptive, or a step-child of their parent
  • be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen
  • be 18 years or older
  • have lived in Australia for at least four years
  • meet a household income requirement of $83,454.80.
  • accept legal liability for any outstanding public health debt their sponsored parent accrues.

Whilst some concerns has been expressed regarding the household income requirement, certain measures need to be put in place to ensure that the new program works and does not fall into the trap of becoming redundant alongside other parent visa options currently available. It should also be noted that household income may be split between the main applicant and their spouse.

There are 15,000 places available per year which is a significant increase by comparison to places available under the non-contributory parent visa scheme.

Parents cannot perform paid work whilst they are in Australia, nevertheless, they are able to reside in Australia for a total period of ten years. This may be a better alternative to having constantly apply for a visitor visa or wait off-shore for the grant of a parent visa (contributory or non-contributory).

The concept of fairness is subjective therefore it is difficult to assess just how fair the new 870 visa is in comparison to other visa options available for parents. Nevertheless, one should also look at the practicality of the new 870 visa, this visa is expected to be processed in a shorter period by comparison to non-contributory parent visas, they are less expensive than contributory parent visas and less cumbersome than repeat visitor visas. From a practical point of view, subclass 870 visa is a step in the right direction for family streamed visas.

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