Contributory Parent Visa Applications – Queuing System Introduced

While non Contributory Parent visa applications have been subject to a formal queuing system for many years this hasn’t been the case with Contributory Parent visa applications – until now.

A high level of demand for family visas creates a need for the Australian Government to ” … manage the consideration and disposal of applications for these visas in an orderly fashion.”

The Government seeks to achieve this in the form of Ministerial Directions, and specifically MD Numbers 80 and 83.

MD Number 80 discusses the processing of family visas generally.

MD Number 83 discusses the processing of family visas that are subject to the formal capping of visa numbers each year – most notably applications for parent visas.

In particular MD Number 83 says:

Except for Other Family visa applications and Pathway visa applications the order of precedence for Family visa applications is:

(a)  those applications where the Minister has exercised powers of intervention under sections 351 or 417 of the Act in the order that those powers have been exercised; then

(b)  all other applications in queue date order, commencing with the application with the earliest queue date, to the extent that it is reasonably practicable to assess applications in that order.

Paragraph (b) provides the requirement for a consideration of the queue date of a visa application.

The MD also defines queue date:

queue date means the date  on which the applicant is assessed by a delegate as meeting all of the prescribed criteria for the visa, other than the following:

(c)  for Onshore Parent visas (Subclass 804) and Contributory Parent visas (Subclass 864 and 884), the applicant’s payment of the second instalment of the visa application charge and, where applicable, assurance of support requirements;

(d)  for Parent visas (Subclass 103) and Contributory Parent visas  (Subclass 143 and 173), the applicant’s health and character requirements, payment of the second instalment of the visa application charge and, where applicable, assurance of support requirements.

We understand that the Department has now commenced an assessment of Contributory Parent visa applications with a lodgement date up to (but not including) June 2018.

Requests from delegates at the PVC may therefore be forthcoming for onshore subclass 864 and 884 visa applicants to undertake medical examinations and to provide police clearance certificates.

Requests for medicals and police clearances should not be received by offshore subclass 143 and 173 visa applicants at the queuing stage of the visa application.

Going forwards the queue date – rather than the visa application date – will be the factor that determines when the visa application is processed.  

Parent Visa Processing Timelines – The Gory Details

We’ve seen the time taken to process Contributory Parent visas blow out significantly over the last few years.    How bad can it get?

The time taken for a subclass 143 Contributory Parent visa application to be processed to a decision has increased significantly in the last few years.   From a processing time of typically 18 to 24 months a few years ago we now see the Parent Visa Centre deciding visa applications that were lodged more than 4 years ago.

Indeed, the Australian Government’s allocation of visas to the parent visa program has completely failed to keep pace with a level of demand that was surely to be expected given the large number of visas granted annually under the skilled and partner visa programs.

Indeed, when the Federal Budget papers were released last week the number of visas available to parent visa applicants for the program year to 30 June 2021 was reduced to 4,500.

In the COVID-affected program year to 30 June 2020 the ceiling on Contributory Parent visa numbers was 6,096, with only 4,399 granted across the Contributory and non-Contributory visa classes.

In the program year to 30 June 2019 the number of visas granted across the Contributory and non-Contributory visa classes was 6,805.

Following an information request of the Department of Home Affairs we now know that the numbers of visas being sought as at 30 September 2020 across the Contributory Parent visa subclasses were:

  • Subclass 143 – 53,444
  • Subclass 173 – 2,884
  • Subclass 864 – 3,447
  • Subclass 884 – 146
  • TOTAL – 59,921

Clearly these statistics indicate a processing time for Contributory Parent visa applications way in excess of that being referenced on the Department’s website (Updated: 23 September 2020): ” … based on current planning levels, we estimate new Contributory Parent visa applications lodged that meet the criteria to be queued are likely to take approximately at least 58 months to be released for final processing.”

We acknowledge that processing priorities can change quickly, as we have seen with the increased number of partner visa applications announced last week – due primarily we suspect to increasing public awareness through the media of the delays in such visa applications being processed to a decision.

However, until there is a similar level of public awareness of – and concern for – the position facing parents unable to join children in Australia we fear it is unlikely there will be any improvement in the processing timeline for parent visa applicants.

Number of parent visas reduced

A Legislative Instrument has been published which reduces the number of available parent visas compared with the 2018/19 program year.

In summary, there is a ceiling of 6,096 visas on the number of Contributory Parent visas for the year to 30 June 2020. For the previous year the ceiling was 7,175.

For non CP visas the 2019/20 ceiling is 1,275 (1,500 for 2018/19).

The ceiling on the granting of CP Visas includes 125 visas that are available to subclass 410 and 405 visa holders who are seeking permanent residency under the pathway that opened 12 months ago.

Approval as a family sponsor – Income test – Subclass 870 Temporary Sponsored Parent Visas

Before an application can be submitted for a subclass 870 Temporary Sponsored Parent visa an approved family sponsorship must be in place.

A key requirement to be satisfied is the income test.

The Legislative Instrument that is currently in effect requires evidence to be provided that confirms taxable income of an amount that is at least A$83,454.80.

This income does not have be solely that of the sponsoring child.   Migration Regulations allow the following to be aggregated:

  • The taxable income of the sponsor
  • The spouse or de facto partner of the sponsor
  • One additional child of the sponsored visa applicant, so long as the child is an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen

Where income of a spouse/de facto partner and/or an additional child is being considered the taxable income of the sponsor must be at least one-half of the specified amount – ie A$41,727.40  presently.

It should also be noted that the requirement is to be met for the income tax year preceding that in which the family sponsor application is submitted.

This means that those looking to submit an application for approval as a family sponsor currently (July 2019) will need to submit their 2019 Australian tax return at the earliest opportunity as the 2019 Tax Assessment Notice will be needed to satisfy the income test.

A Tax Assessment Notice is usually available within a few days of the annual personal tax return being submitted to the Australian Taxation Office.

The author of this article is a registered tax agent as well as a registered migration agent.   He will be happy to discuss the practicalities of the tax assessment process if you are interested in sponsoring a subclass 870 visa application – please feel able to complete the enquiry form on this page for a free initial discussion.

Australia’s Temporary Sponsored Parent Visa (Subclass 870): Where you can and can’t be – And other issues

Since the beginning of this month it has been possible for a parent with a child in Australia to apply for the new temporary sponsored parent visa (subclass 870).

Many of the requirements for this visa were explored in an earlier post.

The underlying legislation is now available, from which we consider the following to be additionally important:

  • An applicant for the 870 visa is required to be outside Australia when the visa application is lodged – unless the Minister for Immigration has agreed otherwise.   Note that the applicant does not have to be outside Australia when the application for approval as a family sponsor is submitted or approved.
  • On each occasion that an 870 visa is renewed the visa applicant will be required to be outside Australia for at least 90 days.
  • The cancellation of the family sponsorship or withdrawal of the sponsorship will lead to the 870 visa ceasing to be valid.
  • Similarly the death of the sponsor will lead to the 870 visa ceasing to be in effect if another approved sponsor cannot be found.
  • An application for an 870 visa must usually be submitted within 6 months of the date of approval of the family sponsor.
  • Holders of a subclass 870 visa cannot apply for a visa under the following visa subclasses:
    • 143, Contributory Parent visa
    • 864, Contributory Aged Parent visa
    • 173, Contributory Parent (Temporary) visa
    • 884, Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) visa
    • 804, Aged Parent
    • 103, Parent
  • Those wanting a permanent residency parent visa outcome should therefore ensure an application under the above visa sub classes is submitted before a visa under subclass 870 is granted.

It should also be remembered that there is no automatic pathway to permanent residency via the subclass 870 visa , and that the total period of time permitted in Australia as the holder of an 870 visa will be 10 years.

This visa will though have a role to play in allowing parents to remain in Australia while awaiting a decision on a subclass 143 permanent residency visa application.

Interested persons may also want to review our separate blog that explores the income requirement to be met by the sponsor of a subclass 870 visa – and to complete the enquiry form on this page if they would like an initial free discussion with us about parent visa strategies.