Labor to slash parent visa fees in pitch to migrant families

Labor is promising to cut fees and uncap places for overseas parents after complaints about the government's new temporary sponsored parent visa.

Labor is vowing to make parent visas more affordable and accessible if elected at the May election. 

The Opposition is set to announce the policy on Monday which would slash fees for three- and five-year parent visas by thousands of dollars. 

Migrant families would also be able to reunite with both sets of parents, removing the Coalition's limit of one set of parents per household. 

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten campaigning in Reid which has a high number of overseas-born voters.
Source: AAP

The Opposition is hoping to seize on disappointment with the government's longer stay parent visa finally introduced earlier this month after being promised before the last federal election.

Bill Shorten has been campaigning hard in Liberal-held marginal seats with very multicultural communities, such as Reid, Banks and Bennelong in Sydney and Chisholm in Melbourne's east.

The 15,000 cap on places for overseas parents would also be removed under Labor's policy. 

Australia's new parent visa absolutely unfair' say migrant communities

"This is about making sure that people from migrant and multicultural communities can get time and love and affection with their grandparents," Labor's immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann told reporters in Sydney.

"The current government has not listened to their voices and put in an unfair process and haven't delivered the visa."

Asked how many people were expected to come to Australia under the proposed arrangements, Mr Neumann said he expected it would be "very popular". 

Under Labor's policy, a five-year parent visa would cost $2,500 - a quarter of the fee of the newly introduced temporary sponsored parent visa, while three-year visas would cost $1,250. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also been campaigning in Chisholm with Liberal candidate  Gladys Liu (left).

Applications opened for the new visas earlier this month, but many migrant families have expressed concern that the cost and conditions put them beyond reach. 

Despite variations from what was initially proposed, the Immigration Minister David Coleman was confident there would be strong interest. 

"It is important that the government is able to run a sustainable migration program where the cost of running the program is not only born by the taxpayers but also by the people," Mr Coleman said last month.

"So we think it's a reasonable charge and the initial indications are that it's going to be very well subscribed."

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Waiting times for permanent parent visas have blown out to several years. 

The “contributory” parent visa costs $47,120 per person with an average wait time of 45 months and the “non-contributory” parent visa will require a waiting period of more than 30 years with a cost of about $6,000.

Overseas parents who come to Australia must have private health insurance and cover the costs of medical treatment. 

Published 22 April 2019 at 10:11am
By Rosemary Bolger