Subclass 870 – Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa regulations released

In the busiest week for migration regulations since perhaps 2012, the Subclass 870 – Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa made it one of four new visa subclasses with regulations released earlier this week. With many requirements already known, the regulations shed further light on the criteria to be a parent sponsor, what situations may affect lodging a valid application, and what constitutes an outstanding public health debt. These regulations come into force on 17 April 2019.

New definitions

There are some important definitions that will be created which will also affect other visa subclasses. This includes:

  • permitted sponsored person – Only children of the intended biological, adoptive or step-parent can be a permitted sponsored person unless they are the spouse or de facto partner of a child of that parent and who also is an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen. The partner can apply to sponsor an existing 870 visa holder if the child sponsor dies and they apply with 90 days after the sponsor’s death.

  • adequate arrangement for health insurance – Many temporary visa applicants require health insurance to be granted a visa and also must maintain this health insurance once granted, with visa condition 8501 imposed. What constitutes adequate health insurance will be set by legislative instrument and if not specified, must be adequate according to the circumstances.

  • outstanding public health debt – This is where a person incurs a medical, hospital, aged-care or other health-related expense on or after 17 April 2019 and that debt remain unpaid.

Parent sponsor criteria

The requirements to be an approved parent sponsor may herald change to other family visas down the track, therefore, these hold great interest. The criteria required parent sponsor application to:

  • Not be an ineligible sponsor. An sponsor is ineligible if 3 or more of their previously sponsored 870 visa holders have not left Australia or do not hold a permanent visa;

  • Only sponsor 2 people at any one time. If a parent has not left Australia and has let their 870 visa expire or does not hold a permanent visa, they are considered to still be sponsored;

  • Be at least 18 years old, satisfy identity requirements, be an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen, be usually resident in Australia for at least the last 4 years immediately before applying, and has not been unlawful in those 4 years or been the holder of any bridging visa other than a Bridging visa A, B, or C;

  • Pass the income test, which had already been revealed to be $83,454.80. This can be combined with either the applicant’s partner or another child of the sponsored parent who is also an Australian citizen, permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen;

  • Meet conduct requirements, which involves obtaining police checks for any country they have lived in for more than 12 months in the last 10 years since turning 16. It also requires applicants to have satisfied previous sponsor obligations. If there is any adverse information, this can be disregarded, with policy probably providing further guidance;

  • Not have any outstanding public health debts. This will apply to the sponsor, their partner, any previously sponsored parents, and the parents they intend to sponsor. If they have entered appropriate arrangements to pay any debt back, then this will be satisfied;

  • Not have any outstanding debts to the Commonwealth unless they have entered into payment arrangements;

  • Require their partner to satisfy sponsor obligations if they have been an approved family sponsor unless disregarded. Their partner must also not be a parent of the sponsor.

Applicants cannot apply to become a parent sponsor if their partner has made an application pending a decision or they are already approved, and applications must be made on the internet and will initially cost $420.

Family sponsors will only be able to sponsor the parents listed in the application.

The term of approval for a family sponsor will cease if any permanent visa the sponsor may have is cancelled, the parent dies, they withdraw their sponsorship, or the parent fails to apply for an 870 visa within 6 months of being approved, among other things.

A parent sponsor can vary their sponsorship under certain circumstances.

Parent sponsor obligations

Much like the temporary activity and work sponsorship regime, parent sponsors will need to be vigilant with their sponsor obligations. They share some similarities. Obligations include:

  • Keeping and providing certain records when requested;

  • Give information within 28 days of a change to any information provided in their sponsor application, they are charged or convicted of an offence, they incur a debt to the Commonwealth that becomes overdue, they become the subject to an apprehended violence order or any equivalent in Australia or overseas, or the sponsored person dies;

  • Pay any outstanding public health debt; and

  • Support any sponsored parent both financially and with accommodation. This will continue to apply if the parent is not granted another substantive visa and remains in Australia.

870 visa applications

There are some interesting aspects to validly lodge an 870 visa:

  • 870 visa holders will not be able to lodge any other parent visa while they hold an 870 visa or have not departed Australia since holding an 870 visa. They can, however, validly lodge any other substantive visa while in Australia;

  • There is a maximum period of 10 years for any person to hold an 870 visa;

  • Unless permitted, they must be outside of Australia to validly lodge an 870 visa application; and

  • Perhaps with a light at the end of the tunnel, visa application charges (VACs) have been split. The first VAC will be $1000, with the balance of $4000 or $9000 due prior to visa grant and depending on whether the visa will be up to 3 years, or over 3 years with a maximum of 5 years, respectively.

For the visa grant criteria, visa applicants must:

  • Have genuine access to sufficient funds, which complements the need for sponsors to have a certain level of income and who will be legally obligated to pay for any outstanding public health debts if incurred;

  • If previously held an 870 visa, have been outside Australia for at least 90 consecutive days. The time will start when they leave Australia if they were in Australia when their last 870 visa ceased, or if they were not in Australia when their last 870 visa ceased, the day they last left Australia;

  • Hold adequate health insurance;

  • Complied substantially with any last held substantive visa and any subsequent bridging visa;

  • Have a genuine intention to stay in Australia temporarily;

  • Not have any outstanding public health debt or if they do, appropriate arrangements for payment have been made;

  • Meet public interest criteria. For health, those outside Australia at the time of application will have to meet the harsher, no waiver health criterion.

Visa grant duration will be either 3 or up to 5 years with the total period not allowed to exceed 10 years. There is a table which dictates when an 870 visa ceases to be effect when certain situations, such as cancellation, or the parent sponsors withdraws their sponsorship.

Visa conditions are:

8103 – Not to undertake work in Australia without permission from the Secretary,

8303 – Not become involved in disruptive activities that threaten harm to the Australian community or a group within the Australian community,

8501 – Maintain health insurance,

8531 – Must not remain in Australia after the end of the period of stay permitted,

8550 – Notify Immigration of change of contact details,

8564 – Must not engage in criminal conduct.

Final thoughts are that the logical cohort that will benefit from this visa are:

  • Parents who do not pass the balance of family test;

  • Those looking for a longer-term visa than tourist visas which require considerable “bench time” overseas;

  • Parents with existing visa applications, provided they can meet the genuine temporary entrant requirement, to come to Australia while their permanent parent visa application is processing;

  • Parents, for whatever reason, who have commitments overseas that prevent them from settling in Australia permanently.