Following on the heels of a Productivity Commission (PC) report on Australia’s migrant intake, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) released a Discussion Paper proposing a new temporary parent visa to commence on 1 July 2017. Submissions from the public will be accepted until the end of the month.
While the PC report looked at the migration programme as a whole, it was critical of the cost of the family visa programme, and in particular parent visas. The reasons for parent visas are numerous:
- The economic outcome is typically poor,
- They are able to make considerable claims on aged care, health and social security,
- Their social contributions are primary to their families.
Perhaps the most important concern is the cost to taxpayers, which has been estimated to be between $335 000 and $410 000 per adult.
Current parent visas are permanent and can be divided into two categories: contributory, and non-contributory. The difference between the two is vast. Contributory parent visas have a second visa application charge required to be paid prior to visa grant of $43 600 per adult, and $2095 per child. While this is expensive, these visas are generally finalised within two years from lodgement. The non-contributory parent visas are subject to cap and queue arrangements. The queue has been consistently growing longer with the DIBP listing the processing time for these visas at 30 years.
There are, however, other ways for parents to migrate both temporarily and permanently. There are special policies to allow parents to be granted Visitor (subclass 600) visas for three or five years, and there is the temporary Investor Retirement (subclass 405) visa. Young parents may also meet the eligibility criteria of other temporary or permanent visas in their own right, but options become limited with age.
The new temporary parent visa would be for up to five years in length and renewable albeit when the applicant is offshore. They will most likely require private health insurance, sponsorship, and possibly even some level of English. The sponsor will need to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, have contributed to Australia for a number of years, meet income and asset requirements, enter into a bond-like arrangement similar to an assurance of support, and also meet character requirements. The finer points for both visa applicants and sponsors are due to be released at the end of the year.
One wonders what is going to happen to the permanent parent visa programme should this visa be implemented. Without a crystal ball, it is hard to be certain, however, two things may happen. The first is an increase in the second visa application charge for contributory parent visas to help balance the costs shouldered by visa applicants and Australian taxpayers. The second is the closure, or maybe even the cap and cease, for non-contributory parent visas. Non-contributory parent visas were temporarily repealed in 2014, and cap and cease provisions were used last year to close down certain offshore General Skilled Migration visas. Cap and ceasing onshore visas may, however, see it challenged in court by affected parties.