Immigration

New visa for parents of immigrants fosters integration, says multicultural leader

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New five-year visa for parents of immigrants will help people integrate into Australia, says multicultural leader.

Peter Doukas, deputy chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Council, welcomed the Australian government’s new five-year visa for parents of immigrants it announced on Friday would be fine tuned with community consultations.

“This is a question not just about the intake of refugees this is a question about settlement, about a detailed plan for integrating people into our community,” he told SBS. 

“We have the issue of anti-multicultural policies reentering the agenda in Australian politics so we’ve got a lot of people that are scared.”

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson used her maiden speech in parliament last week to propose a ban on Muslim immigration, arguing Islam ideology was “incompatible with our own” and “radicalisation is happening on our streets”.

Mr Doukas, however, said immigration promoted cohesion.

“It hasn’t got a bearing on national security, it hasn’t got a bearing on the political debates that we’re having about the internal security and internal terrorism.

“This is about reuniting families, and we’re dealing with real people.”

The current visa system for parents of either Australian citizens or permanent residents into two streams: the 'non-contributor' visa which takes 18-30 years to process and costs $7,000, and the 'contributor' visa which has about a two-year processing time at $50,000.

The government's announcement comes after the Productivity Commission released a report that suggested supporting parents of immigrants cost the country too much at between $2.6 billion and $3.2 billion over their lifetimes.

“A high cost for a relatively small group,” the report stated, given that their contribution to Australia was “typically poor”. The commission recommended an overhaul of the visa scheme, proposing among other changes that families of non-contributing parents paid for any income and health support during their residence.

During the election campaign in June, the Coalition promised a continuous five-year visa for parents of Australian residents and citizens, currently offered on a case-to-case basis to applicants who have lodged a concurrent permanent parental visa application.

Labor promised a parental visa that would allow parents of migrants a continuous stay of three years. 

Currently, visiting parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents are allowed a continuous stay of up to 12 months.

PM talks up Australia as an 'immigration nation'

This week Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull talked up Australia's immigration policies at the UN General Assembly following his announcement the country would increase its annual humanitarian intake of refugees from 13,750 to 18,750 refugees in 2018-2019.

"In order to secure and maintain public support for immigration, multiculturalism and a generous humanitarian program the public need to know that it is their government which controls their borders."

However, Australia's policy of processing refugees offshore has attracted criticism at home and abroad, where it has been described as "cruel" and "dehumanising."

You can find out more about the visa and making a submission here. If you would like to make a written submission on the development of a temporary stay parent visa, email temporary.parent.visa@border.gov.au.

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