'We have to fight this. It's a disgrace,' say members of the Indian community in Australia of the government's proposal for a new parent visa as an online petition is launched.
The new parent visa which is yet to pass the parliament, will allow migrants to seek a three year visa for their parents for $5000, a five year visa for $10,000 and a ten year visa for $20,000.
As many as 15,000 people each year will be granted these visas which could deliver hundreds-of-millions in visa fees to the government.
Along with visa fees, children will have to bear the financial burden of healthcare for migrant parents, with sponsors legally required to pay for their private health insurance.
Community leaders slam the proposal
The new conditions and provisions revealed by Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to SBS News has angered and disappointed members of the Indian community.
Melbourne resident, Ankit Mistry was hoping the new visa, which was expected around July 2017, would have enabled him to bring his parents to Australia for a long stay. He now says that the new provisions are "too expensive."
Arvind Duggal, an Adelaide resident, who kick-started the 'Long Stay Visa for Parents' campaign that saw national participation before federal elections, told SBS Hindi: "This new visa is blackmail. We are being blackmailed into shelling out thousands to be able to live with our parents. This is a lot of money plus the health insurance."
Another member of the campaign, Daniel Connell said: "We have to fight this. It's a disgrace."
Jasvinder Sidhu, a community leader in Melbourne told SBS Hindi: "We are not happy with this change as it is exploitative and a joke with migrant communities. After the citizenship related changes this is another blow. It is also a breach of election promises which the Federal Government made because the bond money has now become fees."
"There is an active element of discrimination because even after paying $10,000 for a five year twice there is no provision for renewal. During these ten years, the fees comes at $20,000 plus private health insurance would cost over $50,000 as the highest level of cover for aged parents costs $400 at least a month.
In short this is is worse than the current provision of the parent visa or permanent parent visas.”
People take to social media to share stories and express their anger
Online forums have heavily criticised the new provisions.
Melbourne resident Ritesh Chugh wrote: "This is an absolute joke!! Pulling a mickey of the migrants & their parents via this new proposal. Unfortunately naivety prevails. We will all get together & voice against this proposal before it gets through.”
Another member of the community, Riken Pandejee has started a change.org petition demanding reduction in fees for Long Term Stay visa for parents.
Vishal Patel in one online group wrote: "Coming to Australia and becoming citizen of Australia shouldn't mean we turn our back on our aged parents. Australian government wants all migrants to adapt to Australian values and speak fluent English... fine but they don't want to accept migrants as integral part of the community. They just want to use them as cash generating vehicles.”
The government plans to officially announce the visa in next week's Budget.
The change comes months after community consultations, and is a response to calls from migrant communities who have been pressuring the government for reform to the parent visas, arguing that the current system is complex and prone to long delay.
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