Subclass 870 visa applications: The latest statistics from Go Matilda Visas

We regularly make enquiry of the Australian Government to obtain details of parent visa applications in an effort to better understand what is happening with processing.

In this blog we provide details – see the table that can be downloaded below – of subclass 870 visa applications that are on hand at the Department of Home Affairs.

In summary, as at 17 August 2022 there were 1,087 x subclass 870 visa applications lodged with the Department where the visa application had been received on or before 31 July 2022.

Legislation allows for the granting of 15,000 of these visas during each program year to 30 June.

We therefore consider there is plenty of scope for current and intending applicants to be granted subclass 870 visas – any delay in these visas being granted is not due to the cap on the number of visas.

Rather, we believe that any delay in processing these visas to a decision is a function of information not being delivered to the Department by visa applicants – we believe this is likely to account for visa applications that are more than 6 months old.

The remainder – from roughly March 2022 onwards – appear to reflect the resourcing of processing at the Department.

Indeed, it appears that if the Department is minded to allocate resources to quickly facilitate the granting of all the subclass 870 visa applications presently on hand we consider there will still be a significant number of visas available to accommodate subclass 870 visa applications that are submitted over the coming months, given the annual ceiling on subclass 870 visas of 15,000.

Parents – subclass 870 visa applications – on hand up to 31 July 2022 – at 17 August 2022

Go Matilda Visas is a proactive Australian visa advisory practice.    We have been helping parents apply for visas for over 20 years and are committed to supporting our parent visa clients with visa strategy and their visa applications so they can be reunited with their children.

If you are a parent with a child or children living in Australia and want help with a current or planned parent visa application please complete the enquiry form on this page.

We’ll be pleased to have a free initial conversation about your situation, after which we can send a no obligation fee proposal to you.


Alan’s Update on Contributory Parent Visa Processing

Here are current expectations on the processing of Contributory Parent visas for the program year to 30 June 2023.

These are based on the number of parent visas announced for the 2022-23 program year in the last Federal Budget in March 2022.

Of course, we have since had a change of Government at the Federal level.   The first Labor Budget for the new administration is going to take place on 25 October, 2022 and it is very possible that we will see an uplift in total migration numbers.

Whether this will be focused on skilled migration only remains to be seen – as many will know there are skills shortages across the world and the needs of Australian businesses in terms of skilled visa numbers are being well publicised in the media.

Of course, many skilled migrants with parents residing overseas are more likely to return to the country in which their parents are living – eg in the event of ill health, or due to the pain of separation – so if the Australian Government is of a mind to adopt a holistic approach to skilled migration we consider that including a higher number of parent visas within the overall migration program would be in line with a desired outcome of attracting and retaining skilled migrants to Australia.

The 2022-23 Migration Program includes an allocation of 6,000 visas to parents.

This is further broken down into contributory parent visas (CPVs, subclasses 143, 173, 864, and 884) and non contributory parent visas (subclasses 103 and 804).

We presently anticipate an allocation of 500 visas to non CPVs, and 5,500 to CPVs.

Go Matilda Visas requests information from the Department of Home Affairs periodically as to the number of visa applications on hand broken down into the month the visa application was received.

The latest such information we have is as at 31 March 2022.

A schedule detailing the number of CPV applications is below.

We have assumed 10% of CPV applications will not progress to grant.   This may be due to the withdrawal of the visa application, requirements not being met (eg health, Assurance of Support income test), or the death of the visa applicant.

Given these assumptions we expect individuals with CPV applications lodged in the months up to November 2016 to receive communications from the Parent Visa Centre leading to visa grants over the period to 30 June 2023.

Go Matilda Visas is a proactive Australian visa business, with the bulk of our client base being family visa applications.

We advocate for greater transparency on the part of the Department of Home Affairs in the processing of visa applications, and for parent visa applicants in particular.

Please complete the enquiry form on this page if you are an intending parent visa applicant, are living in Australia and have a parent residing overseas who you want to join you, or have lodged a parent visa application and need some help.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Subclass 870 Visa Holders – Condition 8501 – Requirement to Maintain Health Insurance – RHCA Relaxation

Condition 8501 is required to be included on all subclass 870 Sponsored Parent Temporary Visas.  

This condition requires the visa holder to maintain adequate health insurance for the duration of their stay in Australia.

However, Department of Home Affairs policy guidance provides a relaxation for those who can access Medicare under a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA).

At the current time Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCAs) with eleven countries, being the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia and the Republic of Ireland.

The provisions of RHCAs vary, and frequently entitle residents of these countries to obtain a RHCA-specific Medicare card and to receive access to limited subsidised health services for medically necessary treatment while visiting Australia.

It should be noted that simply being a citizen of a country that has a RHCA with Australia may not necessarily entitle a person to access Medicare –  Services Australia is responsible for determining a person’s eligibility to enrol in Medicare under a RHCA.

Importantly for subclass 870 visa holders who have arrived in Australia from a RHCA country if the 870 visa holder has enrolled with Medicare and holds a valid Medicare card issued under a RHCA the Department considers they meet the minimum requirements for adequate arrangements for health insurance given the RHCA covers the visa holder for the entirety of their stay in Australia.

Individuals who have not yet enrolled in Medicare under a RHCA must obtain private health insurance even if they are entitled to Medicare.

In other words private health insurance must be maintained by a subclass 870 visa holder while in Australia until s/he has enrolled in the Medicare system under the applicable RHCA.

A couple of specific additional points:

  • Citizens of the Republic of Ireland are not eligible to receive a Medicare card but can access certain Medicare services by presenting their passport. Therefore, for citizens of the Republic of Ireland, the Department considers that evidence of an Irish passport is sufficient to meet the requirement for adequate health insurance.
  • Those who are residents and citizens of Malta or Italy are eligible for a reciprocal Medicare card only for the first six months of their stay in Australia.  This is sufficient to meet the requirement to have adequate arrangements for health insurance at the visa application stage, but these persons will need to make adequate arrangements for health insurance once they cease to be eligible for reciprocal health care to satisfy condition 8501.


Subclass 870 visa renewals – The need to be outside Australia – Visa strategy for subclass 870 visa holders

The first subclass 870 Sponsored Parent Temporary Visas were granted almost 3 years ago.   With the validity of these visas coming to an end and the processing time for subclass 143 visas extending significantly beyond what was expected when the first SPTVs were granted thoughts are now turning to the requirements for subclass 870 visa renewals – including most notably the need to be offshore (outside Australia) for a period of time.

Underpinning the requirements for the granting of visas generally is legislation (ie the law) and Department of Home Affairs policy guidance.

Relevantly, the Migration Regulations say in the time of application requirements for subclass 870 visas:


(1)  If:

(a) the applicant is outside Australia at the time of application; and

(b) the applicant previously held a Subclass 870 visa; and

(c) there are no exceptional circumstances;

the applicant has been outside Australia for at least 90 consecutive days since the relevant departure day of the applicant.

(2)  The relevant departure day of an applicant is:

(a) if the applicant was in Australia when the last Subclass 870 visa held by the applicant ceased to be in effect—the first day on which the applicant left Australia after that visa ceased to be in effect; or

(b) if the applicant was not in Australia when the last Subclass 870 visa held by the applicant ceased to be in effect—the last day on which the applicant left Australia while that visa was in effect.

The key to not departing Australia is therefore whether one can argue “exceptional circumstances.”

In this regard we have been advised by the Department as follows:

As a temporary visa, the SPTV does not provide a right to remain in Australia permanently. Clause 870.223 gives effect to the policy intention that an applicant must be outside Australia for at least 90 consecutive days before making an application for a second SPTV.

 If a SPTV holder is unable to depart Australia prior to the expiry of their visa, a sponsor can request that the visa holder be permitted to apply for a further SPTV in Australia, or they can apply for an alternative visa to maintain lawful status.

It should also be noted that Schedule 1 of the Migration Regulations 1994 says that: “… an applicant for a subclass 870 visa cannot be the holder of an 870 visa at the time the visa application is submitted.”

This means that an application for a further subclass 870 visa if an existing 870 visa is currently in effect will be an invalid application.

If one wants to remain in Australia upon the expiry of an existing 870 visa and is to seek a renewal 870 visa another visa will therefore be required between the two subclass 870 visas.

This might be – say – an onshore visitor visa (subclass 600), or a student visa (subclass 500).

Key in this regard is avoiding the inclusion of condition 8503 No Further Stay on the visa.

A condition 8503 prevents an application for another visa being submitted while in Australia.

Note: The Department of Home Affairs has announced a concession due to COVID restrictions on the ability to enter Australia.

If you held a Sponsored Parent Temporary Visa (subclass 870) and were outside Australia on 1 July 2021 your visa period has been automatically extended by 18 months.

This concession aims to assist SPTV holders who could not spend the full 3 or 5 years on their visa in Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

If your visa was extended under this concession, the additional 18 months will not count toward your cumulative 10 year maximum stay period.

Sponsorship obligations for SPTV Sponsors have also been extended for the same 18 month period.


Visa strategy and a consideration of timing are going to become key issues for parents who have subclass 870 visas.  

With a need for approval of the sponsor required before the 870 visa renewal application can be lodged there are real risks here for those who don’t understand the requirements and plan accordingly.

We foresee subclass 870 visa holders going through the distress and upset of having to depart Australia at short notice, or becoming unlawful – ie staying in Australia after the expiry of the 870 visa and not having applied for a further visa that will allow them to remain in Australia.

Many parents who hold subclass 870 visas have bought homes in Australia/have long term rental commitments for their homes, and have brought their personal wealth to Australia in anticipation of their application for permanent residency visas under subclass 143 visa (Contributory Parent) being processed on the basis of timelines advised on the website of the Department of Home Affairs.

As readers of this blog will know, these timelines are backward looking, and do not bear any resemblance to the actual timeline one should expect given the number of visa applications in the system and the number of visas being granted annually.

Details of visa processing times for parents are available here.

We strongly recommend that subclass 870 visa holders take active steps 6 to 12 months before the expiry of their visa to consider their visa strategy and what should be done to ensure there is no interruption in their ability to remain in Australia.

Go Matilda Visas is actively involved in advising parents as to their visa strategies, the preparation of parent visa applications, and the management of parent visa applications to a decision.  

If you require help and support we invite you to complete the enquiry form on this web page.


Parent and Aged Parent Visa Processing Times – Number of Applications Lodged Presently

Go Matilda Visas has submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Australian Government and has obtained details of the number of non Contributory Parent visa applications under sub classes 103 (Parent) and 804 (Aged Parent) that were lodged and queued as at the end of December 2021.

As visa applicants and their families will be aware, the Australian Government presently advises a timeline for the granting of these visas of some 30+ years.

Schedules that detail the number of applications based on the queue date of the application are in the schedules below (pdf format).

It should be remembered that with visa sub class 804 a queue date is issued once an initial assessment of health and character – ie medical examinations and police clearances – has been completed successfully.

The total number of visas available across the subclass 103 and 804 visa sub classes was 900 in the program year to 30 June 2021, and is expected to be the same for the current program year that ends on 30 June 2022.

In addition, the Department of Home Affairs presently advises:

“Onshore Aged Parent (BP804) visas have been assessed up to Queued Date of December 2012.

Onshore Aged Parent applications with a Queued Date of December 2012 onwards are likely to take longer to process while we action offshore Parent (AX103) applications to bring the dates back to parity.”

At the time of preparing this blog the Parent Visa Centre is assessing subclass 103 visa applications that were queued up to October 2010.

Subclass 804 visa applications in train – 31 Dec 2021

Subclass 103 visa applications in train – 31 Dec 2021

Some High Level Thoughts

  • Given the details we have received and 900 visas allocated to these sub classes annually it will be some 7 years before subclass 804 applications are being assessed again by delegates at the PVC.
  • With a total number of visa applications under sub classes 103 and 804 of about 41,500, allowing for an attrition rate of (say) 15% (due to the withdrawal of the visa application – which might include transfers of applications to Contributory Parent visa sub classes 143 and 864; or the death of the visa applicant; or the failure to satisfy the health requirement), and a continuing annual number of visas granted of 900 we think the total processing time for a visa application under sub class 103 or 804 will be closer to 40+ years, rather than the 30+ years currently identified by the Department of Home Affairs – remembering that a queue date is usually forthcoming some 2 to 3 years after the visa application is submitted.
  • Of course, for subclass 804 visa applicants the difference between 30 and 40 years may not be overly significant, given the main applicant must be aged (as defined – presently 66.5+ years old) when the application is lodged.

Go Matilda Visas is a proactive firm of visa advisors.   We look after visa applications for a significant number of parents, and will be pleased to have an initial free no obligation conversation if you are intending to submit a parent visa application – whether this is for a non contributory or a contributory parent visa.

Please complete the enquiry form on this page if this is of interest.