Applications for the new temporary sponsored parent visa – subclass number 870 – will be possible from July 2019, with applications for approval of sponsors opening next month.
As is often the case though with Government announcements, the devil is in the detail – some won’t be able to apply, and some won’t want to once the details are explored.
Nevertheless, for many the opportunity to spend an extended period in Australia with children and grandchildren will be very welcome, particularly if a permanent residency visa outcome is available within the period of stay in Australia permitted by the new visa.
Australia’s Immigration Minister has announced that applications to sponsor a parent for a Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa will be open from the 17th of April 2019.
Once a sponsorship application has been approved a sponsored parent will be able to apply for a Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa, subclass 870.
Applications for the visa will be possible from 1 July 2019.
The visa will provide parents with a new pathway to reunite with children and grandchildren in Australia.
The visa is intended to address concerns about the limited number of places available to parents in the migration program and the associated lengthy waiting periods.
- A parent must be the biological, adoptive, or step-parent of the sponsor.
- The sponsor must be an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen.
- Sponsorship applications can be lodged from the 17th of April 2019.
- Visa applications must be lodged within six months of sponsorship approval and cannot be lodged until a sponsor has been approved.
- Up to 15,000 Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visas may be granted each program year, which runs from 1 July to 30 June. If the cap is reached in a program year, no further visas will be granted until the next program year commences on 1 July.
- Charges payable to the Department of Home Affairs will be:
- A$420 when the sponsorship application is submitted
- A$5,000 for a 3 year visa, or A$10,000 for a 5 year visa. This is a per person charge, and will be payable as to one half when the visa application is lodged/one half immediately before the visa is granted.
- A parent will be able to stay in Australia on a subclass 870 visa for a maximum of 10 years.
- A “no work” condition will generally attach to subclass 870 visas.
- Standard Visitor visa arrangements remain unchanged. However the Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa replaces the Visitor visa concession that allows parents of Australian citizens/permanent residents to stay in Australia for longer periods – typically for 12 months in every 18 months.
- In addition to meeting the sponsor/parent relationship requirement the sponsor must:
- Be an Australian citizen/permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen who has been usually resident in Australia for four years.
- Have no debts to the Commonwealth (eg tax debts) or public health debts unless appropriate arrangements have been made for payment.
- Meet a minimum household income threshold (based on the income of the sponsor, or the combined income of the sponsor and their spouse/partner and/or another child of the parent). Details in this regard will be keenly awaited.
- Provide police clearances for any country they have spent more than 12 months cumulatively in during the past 10 years.
- Only two parents per household can be sponsored for this visa at a time. This limitation could make for some interesting family discussions!
- The sponsor obligations are relatively onerous, and include:
- Paying outstanding public health debts – ie Medicare – incurred by their parent in Australia. The obligation ceases if the relevant health authority advises the debt has been repaid, or acceptable repayment arrangements have been made. This obligation will continue if there are outstanding health debts, even after the parent who incurred them has departed Australia. It remains to be seen whether this obligation extends to parents who are from countries with which Australia has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA), such as the UK.
- Keeping records and providing them to the Department if asked. For example evidence of income. This obligation ends two years after the day the person ceases to be a sponsor.
- Advising the Department when certain events occur. For example if the sponsor is charged with a crime. This obligation ends the day after the person ceases to be a sponsor.
- Providing financial support and accommodation for the parent/s in Australia, if needed.
- Visa applicants will need to meet health and character requirements, and maintain suitable private health insurance for the duration of the stay in Australia.
- The balance of family test that pertains to the other parent visas does not apply for this new temporary sponsored parent visa, opening up opportunities for an extended period of stay in Australia for parents who have been limited to visitor visas in the past.
Devil in the Detail
We highlight the following:
- The minimum household income requirement., which has yet to be disclosed by the Government This requirement could disqualify many families from this visa pathway.
- The requirement for the sponsor to have been usually resident in Australia for at least 4 years. This should be compared with the “settled sponsor” requirement that attaches to the generality of parent visa pathways.
- The open commitment on the part of the sponsor to reimburse Medicare costs incurred by a parent. Clearly this could be a significant burden financially and emotionally on a family, at a time when a parent might be very unwell.
With the processing time for even the quickest parent visa applications now extending towards 5 years or more this new visa pathway will be of interest to many, particularly applicants for the subclass 143 Contributory Parent visa.
We know of many applicants for 143 visas who are experiencing practical and emotional difficulty with the present 12 months in 18 months limitation attaching to visitor visas, which is not helped because actual processing times are significantly longer than was published on the Department’s website at the time the visa application was lodged.
This visa will also be of interest to parents/families who are not yet in a position to apply for a permanent residency visa – eg because the balance of family test is not yet satisfied, but a child of the intending temporary parent visa applicant has an application for permanent residency in the system.
For example, consider a parent with three children: one is in Australia as a permanent resident, the second is in Australia with a provisional partner visa, and the third is overseas.
The second child can reasonably anticipate permanent residency within the next year or two, at which time a permanent parent visa pathway will be available for the parent.
Some parents who are within a year or two of being “aged” (as defined) might choose to apply for this new visa rather than a subclass 143 Contributory Parent visa, and then apply for an onshore parent visa under subclass 804 or 864 at which point they will be granted a Bridging Visa.
Such a strategy should allow for costs to be mitigated, as only one temporary sponsored parent visa with a 3 year validity might be needed, rather than a 5 year or repeat temporary visa applications being required if a subclass 143 visa application is submitted that takes 5 or more years to process to a decision.
Clearly caution is required for parents who do not have a permanent residency visa in prospect, given the stated 10 year limit on staying in Australia using subclass 870 visas – we foresee family heartache in years to come for those in this situation.
Go Matilda Visas has already taken instructions from many enquirers and parents in respect of this new temporary sponsored parent visa, and we anticipate significant demand from parents and families for the new sponsored parent visa going forwards.
We invite you to complete the enquiry form on this web page if you would like a free initial conversation on your situation and visa strategy, and would like to know our fixed fee for helping with such an application.