All posts by Alan Collett

Australia’s new temporary parent visa – Subclass 870 – Available in April

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.

Overview

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.

Details

  • 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.

Comment

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.

Temporary parent visas – We’re getting there!

The Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 has at long last had its second reading in the Senate, and was passed this morning.

Some will recall that this is the legislation that the Federal Government considers is required to pass into law before the long awaited temporary parent visa can become available.

We are anticipating the Bill will become law this week, at which point we can reasonably expect the new temporary parent visa pathway will open.

Hopefully the regulations to facilitate the new temporary parent visa won’t take too long to prepare.

The legislation as drafted requires the approval of a sponsor before a visa application is lodged.

Those who are interested in progressing an application for the new temporary parent visa with our help should feel able to complete the enquiry form on this page.

We can then confirm our fee for assisting with a temporary parent visa application.

Parent Visa Numbers for 2018-19 Published

Australia’s parent visa numbers for the program year to 30 June 2019 have been released today.

The Department of Home Affairs has released details of the number of visas available under the non humanitarian program for the year to 30 June 2019.

There are no changes compared with the 2017-18 program year, meaning that for the 2018–19 program year:

  • 1,500 places have been allocated to the non Contributory Parent visas, sub classes 103 and 804
  • 7,175 places have been allocated to the Contributory Parent visas, subclasses 173/143 and subclasses 884/864

It should be remembered that the Australian Government has adopted a change of narrative in recent months, such that the number of visas in the budgeted program should be seen as a ceiling, not a target.

By changing its narrative the Government can be seen to be responsive to community concerns when the actual outcome in terms of visa grant numbers is less than was budgeted originally.

The 2018-19 migration program planning numbers are available here.

 

New Visa Application Charges from 1st July, 2018 – Parent Visa Applications

The Department of Immigration has announced the new scale of 1st Visa Application Charges that are taking effect from the 1st of July, 2018.

Charges for the parent visa applications encountered most frequently are increasing as follows:

Subclass 143, Contributory Parent (not the holder of a subclass 173 visa)

  • Main applicant – A$3,855 currently A$3,770
  • Secondary applicants aged 18 or more – A$1,300 currently A$1,270

Subclass 864, Contributory Aged Parent (not the holder of a subclass 884 visa)

  • Main applicant – A$3,855 currently A$3,770
  • Secondary applicants aged 18 or more – A$1,925 currently A$1,880

Subclass 804, Aged Parent

  • Main applicant – A$4,035 currently A$3,945
  • Secondary applicants aged 18 or more – A2,020 currently A$1,975

These VACs are payable when the visa application is lodged with the Department of Home Affairs.

At present there are no announced changes to the 2nd Visa Application Charges, which are payable immediately prior to visa grant.

For now these remain at A$43,600 per person for the subclass 143 and 864 visas, and A$2,065 for the non Contributory subclass 804 visa.

The Explanatory Memorandum to the Regulations which introduces the increases advises:

… the Regulations amend the Migration Regulations to increase first instalment VACs for a number of visas. On 1 July 2017, most VACs were indexed in accordance with the 2017-18 forecast consumer price index (CPI). The Regulations increase the majority of VACs so that they are increased by the 2018‐19 forecast CPI. In effect, this means that the relevant VACs are increased from their baseline 2016-17 amounts by the cumulative total of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 increases. It is intended that these indexation amendments will be made on an annual basis in future.

Assurance of Support Changes to be Withdrawn

SBS News is reporting that the changes to the Assurance of Support requirements that were introduced immediately after Easter and that retrospectively affect parent visa applications are to be withdrawn.

SBS apparently has obtained a letter which Social Security Minister Dan Tehan sent to Greens Senator Nick McKim on Wednesday, which confirms the Government will undo the Regulation, rather than face a narrow defeat on the floor of the Senate.

The Government will revert to the old rules and will “reassess” any who applied for an Assurance of Support after the April change was introduced.

Mr Tehan apparently plans to rewrite the legislative instrument before the 23rd of May.

This is great news for those parents – and their families – who would have otherwise been looking at their visa application being refused.