Parents of migrants visiting Australia holding the new reunion visa have to notify authorities before changing to their personal and contact details. The requirement has sparked concerns that many elderly parents could have their visas cancelled as the condition is believed too difficult to fully comply with.
Parents of migrants visiting Australia on the newly introduced parent visa risk being deported if they fail to inform authorities at least two days before any changes are made to their personal and contact details, including "online profiles and usernames".
A condition attached to the Temporary Sponsored Parent Visa that mandates they inform the Department of Home Affairs “not less than two working days before the change is to occur” to their name, address, phone number, email, online profile and user name, has been deemed “harsh” and “unreasonable”.
“In certain situations, it would be humanly impossible to inform the department about some of these changes before they are actually made,” says Gold Coast migration agent Seema Chauhan who recently lodged a parent visa application for her client.
Those breaching this condition could receive a notice of intention to cancel their visa from the Department.
While the Department of Home Affairs says this doesn’t include Instagram or other social media usernames or online profiles, the relevant regulations state otherwise.
Ms Chauhan says when the law is applied to a situation, it comes down what’s written in the legislation.
“Although anyone facing visa cancellation, for this reason, could argue on the basis of compelling and compassionate grounds, there’s clearly a big ambiguity here and the gap between what the Department says what's in the regulations should be eliminated,” she told SBS Punjabi.
The visa has been made available from 1st July 2019, over three years after it was promised during the run-up to the 2016 federal election by the coalition.
Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia chief executive Mohammad Al-Khafaji said the condition was onerous and left no margin of error for visa holders.
"Our Government should be creating a welcoming experience for families reuniting and not impose such harsh penalties such as deportation as a result of some minor administrative oversight, especially for elderly parents," he told the ABC.
Ms Chauhan says elderly parents are more likely to fall foul of this requirement of the visa.
“Many visiting parents are unlikely to be tech-savvy and don’t regularly use digital and online platforms even if they have created their usernames and logins. Many would create a new one every now and then, and then the question is how do they notify the Department before they create a new one,” she says.
A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs told SBS Punjabi that the measure ensures that the records held are accurate and the Department can communicate with visa holders when required.
“As Temporary Sponsored Parent Visas are granted with up to five years’ validity, it is expected that visa holders’ personal details may change over this time,” the spokesperson said.
The requirement is also applied to the Frequent Traveller stream for Chinese citizens which allows for a visa validity of up to ten years, the spokesperson said.
The Federal Government will issue up to 15,000 temporary visas every year that allow parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents a continuous stay of up to five years in the country. The visa costs $10,000 and can be renewed once.
The sponsoring children need to be earning at least $83,454 in order to sponsor their parents.