A temporary alternative when onshore parent visas are refused on health grounds

Fairfax media ran an ‘Exclusive’ article today on two nonagenarians who were refused aged parent visas because one of the applicants failed public interest criterion (PIC) 4005, otherwise known as the health criterion. This PIC is a requirement on many visa applications, particularly permanent ones, as public health risks and costs are not unduly increased by visa holders.

This is a particularly difficult hurdle for parent visa applications as it is axiomatic that the more we age, the more our health suffers, and the more likely we will need medical services. Notwithstanding the incredibly long timeframes a visa applicant has to wait for the capped and queued, non-contributory parent visa (currently estimated to be around 30 years), invariably by the time it comes to assess the visa applicant's health again, in this instance some ten years after lodging the application, a person once considered to have met PIC 4005 may not meet it again.

Of course, there are reasons, financial reasons of course, for capping and queuing certain parent visas. The recent Productivity Commission report estimates that the average costs of each parent to the Australian taxpayer is between $335 000 and $410 000 per adult.

The problem Mr and Mrs Bradley faces maybe mitigated somewhat by the proposed temporary parent visa due to be implemented on 1 July 2017, however, this may not be of immediate assistance to someone facing removal.

Is Mr Bradley doomed? Possibly not. There are provisions in the Act, and one visa in particular, that accounts for situations such as this one. I am referring to the Medical Treatment (subclass 602) visa (MTV). Despite what the name suggests, for some there does not need to be any medical treatment necessary to be granted one.

The MTV have a number of contingencies available depending of the circumstances. The one that may best fit here is when the visa applicant is ‘unfit to depart’. To meet this, among other requirements, the visa applicant must:

  • Be in Australia,

  • Be at least 50 years old,

  • Have applied for a permanent visa,

  • Appear to have met all other criteria for the grant of that visa other than public interest criteria related to health,

  • Have been refused that visa,

  • Is medically unfit to depart to depart Australia due to a permanent or deteriorating disease or health condition, as evidenced by a written statement to that effect from a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth due to a permanent or deteriorating disease or health condition.

What is most important about the MTV is the length of visa that can be granted. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it could be for as long as ten years.

Perhaps requesting 'clemency' from the Minister is not the only solution to Mr and Mrs Bradley’s woes.