Responding to long-standing community concerns, and in recognition of the social benefits of reuniting parents with their children and grandchildren in Australia, the Commonwealth Government has recently introduced a new Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa (subclass 870).

This new visa will enable parents of Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens to visit Australia for up to 3 or 5 years.

Who is eligible?

This visa introduces a new class of sponsor known as a ‘parent sponsor’. To be eligible for this visa class, the parent must be sponsored by a biological or adoptive child, a step-child or a spouse/de‑facto of such a child. Among the criteria for approval as a parent sponsor are:

  • an income test to be met by the sponsor, the household of the sponsor, or by a combination of the sponsor and other Australian children of the parent;
  • a requirement that the sponsor and their family have no outstanding public debt including any public health debt, or have made appropriate arrangements to repay any debt; and
  • that the sponsor be of good character.

Importantly, for this visa to be granted the parent must meet health requirements and have and maintain adequate health insurance while in Australia.

This new visa category marks a significant departure from existing parent visa categories (parent, aged parent and contributory parent) in that the criteria for grant of this visa does not include the ‘balance of family test’. Under the current visa provisions, this test requires that 50% or more of the parent’s children must be Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents, often ruling out many genuine cases of parent migration.

When will it commence?

This new visa category will commence on 1 July 2019.

The Department of Home Affairs is already receiving applications to be approved as a parent sponsor.

How much will it cost?

The Government has introduced relatively reasonable visa application fees:  AUD $5,000 for a 3 year visa or AUD $10,000 for a 5 year visa. Under the previous parent visa scheme, applicants could expect to pay application fees in the vicinity of AUD $50,000.

How long will it take?

Waiting periods are being advertised as 3 months from date of application – a significant improvement on the waiting periods of between 6 years and 30 year associated with the existing parent visa programs.

Next steps

As this new visa class is likely to be subject to high demand with an annual cap of 15,000 visa grants in place, families seeking reunification with overseas parents should act promptly to assess their eligibility and to get a visa application underway. It is recommended that families contact an experienced migration lawyer or registered migration agent for assistance with navigating Australia’s immigration laws and to maximise the chance of approval.

This new visa represents a long overdue addition to Australia’s family visa program. With parent sponsor applications already being received and processed, it is hoped and expected that this new visa will bring relief to a system that has struggled with delays in family reunification caused by high demand and lengthy wait times.

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This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article