The Australian government is set to introduce new temporary sponsored parent visa. This visa will allow migrant Australians to sponsor their parents to permanent visa permitting the holder to travel and stay in Australia for a period of 5 years from the date of grant. However, the first entry must be made before a date specified by the Minister for the purpose of this visa. This is encouraging news for those who have been waiting to reunite with their families.
Parents of settled Australian citizens; or settled Australian permanent resident or, eligible New Zealand citizens will be eligible for this visa. Though the current parent visa (subclass 103) allows parents to live in Australia permanently as well as get access to Medicare, among other facilities, the waiting time for approval can sometimes stretch to 30 years, which can be very stressful.
On 23 September 2016, Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke unveiled a discussion paper to start a series of community consultations for the proposed visa. Along with these consultations, he has also asked for public submissions to help legislate and finalize this policy. Final date for these submissions is 31 October 2016.
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The visa design needs to balance two key aspects – economic and social. While it gives parents the opportunity to spend time with their families, it must also ensure that it does not burden the healthcare system. It most likely means the parents will need to get private healthcare, based on proven financial backing by their children. The parent visa fee is still unclear but the Minister says it will be more cost-effective than the current arrangement.
Migrant community members, many of whom will be actively involved in the design of this new visa policy, will have some issues to deal with during consultations. For instance, if private healthcare is mandatory for the parents, the visa may cause some unintended communal disharmony if only the richer families will be able to afford it.
If the parent visa duration is for 5 years, what happens when it expires? Can they reapply? Will the economic status of their children still matter? Many pertinent questions remain unanswered, but this is a positive step by the Australian government to reunite families quickly, some of whom may have been waiting for a very long time indeed.