The visa provides parents with a new pathway to temporarily reunite with their children and grandchildren in Australia, while ensuring that taxpayers are not required to cover additional costs. The visa responds to community concerns about the limited number of Parent places in the migration program and associated lengthy waiting periods.
Family sponsors will need to obtain approval to sponsor their family member, before a visa application can be lodged. Sponsorship applications can be lodged from 17 April 2019. Visa applications must be lodged within six months of sponsorship approval and cannot be lodged until a sponsor has been approved. Applications for the visa are intended to open from 1 July 2019
To be eligible for the visa, a parent must be the biological, adoptive, or step-parent of the sponsor, who must be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen.
Only two parents per household can be sponsored for this visa at a time. The limit reflects the potential costs a sponsor will be required to meet.
Benefits of the new visa
The visa allows parents to remain in Australia for a longer period of time, up to five years at a time without departing for a total of 10 years. It provides an alternative option to Visitor visas which only allow shorter periods of stay. Parents are still eligible to apply for Visitor visas and/or permanent Parent visas.
While the Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa allows for a significantly longer stay period than a visitor visa, it is still only a temporary visa and does not allow for permanent residence in Australia like a permanent Parent visa.
Number of places available
Up to 15,000 Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visas may be granted each program year (from 1 July to 30 June).
The 15,000 cap has been set by the Government in recognition of the challenges of an ageing population, as well as the overall budget impact of older migrants. The limit also reflects the Government’s priority of providing visa pathways for children and partners of Australians, as well as the need to target young skilled migrants to maximise the economic benefits of migration.
If the cap is reached in a program year, no further visas will be granted until the next program year commences on 1 July.
No pathway to permanent residence
While the Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa allows for a significantly longer stay period than a visitor visa, it is still only a temporary visa and does not allow for permanent residence in Australia like a permanent Parent visa. The new visa provides a pathway for existing Parent visa applicants to travel to Australia temporarily to spend time with their children and grandchildren while their permanent Parent visa application is being processed.
Sponsors must meet the following criteria:
- the sponsor/parent relationship requirements (ie: a parent must be the biological, adoptive, or step-parent of the sponsor and a step-parent can only apply if they are still in a married/de facto relationship with a biological parent of the sponsor)
- be aged at least 18 years of age
- be an Australian citizen/permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen who has been usually resident in Australia for four years
- have met any prior sponsorship obligations
- have no adverse information unless it is reasonable to disregard the information
- have no debts to the Commonwealth or public health debts unless appropriate arrangements have been made for payment
- a minimum household income threshold (based on the income of the sponsor, or the combined income of the sponsor and their spouse/partner and/or another child of the parent)
- provide police clearances for any country they have spent more than 12 months cumulatively in during the past 10 years
- authorise information to be shared with the visa applicant.
Sponsors must also agree to comply with sponsorship obligations in relation to the parent(s) they are sponsoring.
A parent sponsor will be required to meet obligations including:
- providing financial support and accommodation for their parent in Australia
- keeping records and providing them to the Department if asked. For example evidence of income. This obligation ends two years after the day the person ceases to be a sponsor
- advising the Department when certain events occur. For example if they are charged with a crime. This obligation ends the day after the person ceases to be a sponsor
- paying outstanding public health debts incurred by their parent in Australia. The obligation ceases if the relevant health authority advises the debt has been repaid, or acceptable repayment arrangements have been made. However, this obligation will continue if there are outstanding health debts, even after the parent who incurred them has departed Australia.
If an obligation is breached, the Department can consider:
- cancelling the sponsorship. This means any existing sponsored visa holders must either find another sponsor or depart Australia
- barring a sponsor. A bar prevents a sponsor from sponsoring further parents for a period of time.
If the parent incurs public health debts in Australia and these are not paid, the party owed the debt will be able to pursue the sponsor, through the Courts if necessary, to have the debt repaid.
A parent sponsorship will cease:
- if the sponsor’s permanent visa is cancelled
- if the sponsor dies
- if the sponsor withdraws their sponsorship
- if the sponsored parent does not apply for a Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa within six months of the sponsorship being approved
- the day that the Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa ceases.
However, some sponsor obligations will continue after the sponsorship ceases, including the obligation to pay any outstanding health debts incurred by the visa holder in Australia, even after their visa has ceased.
Eligibility Criteria for Parents
Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa applicants must:
- be sponsored by a person who is an approved parent sponsor
- be outside Australia (unless invited in writing to apply by the Department), for at least 90 days if the applicant holds or has previously held a Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa
- have access to funds
- hold suitable health insurance
- not have an outstanding public health debt
- satisfy health, character, and national security requirements.
Unlike permanent Parent visas, there is no Balance of Family Test requirement for this visa, meaning a visa applicant is not required to have more than half of their children residing in Australia.
Visa holders will generally be subject to a “no work” condition.
3 / 5 Year Visa Term
The visa allows parents to stay in Australia temporarily for a period of up to five years at a time. A parent must be outside Australia for at least 90 days before being eligible to apply for a further Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa. A parent will be able to hold visas up to a total stay in Australia of 10 years, reflecting that the visa is a temporary visa and does not lead to permanent residence.
Parents who have held Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visas for the cumulative maximum 10 year period must either depart Australia or apply for another visa that will allow them to remain in Australia. They will not be eligible for grant of a further Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa.
The visa application charge is:
- $5,000 for a visa of up to three years’ duration; or
- $10,000 for a visa of up to five years’ duration.
The visa application charge is payable in two instalments, with one payment at time of application and the remainder paid prior to visa grant.
The visa application charge represents a contribution to the cost of the services parents will use in Australia for extended periods. Most visa holders will have never paid tax in Australia but will benefit from using existing infrastructure.
The charges also reflect that there are benefits for both parents and their Australian families. The visa holder can stay in Australia for up to five years continuously (up to a cumulative maximum of 10 years), thereby saving on the cost of airfares that would be incurred over this period if they were required to depart and re-enter Australia on a regular basis.