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Obtaining a parent visa in Australia can be a long and costly exercise. Over 40 thousand parents are currently on a 30-year-long waiting list for permanent residency. It is little wonder many families are opting to jump the queue by paying a higher price.
By
Amy Chien -Yu Wang

2 Jun 2016 - 10:11 AM  UPDATED 12 Sep 2016 - 2:57 PM

Most parent visa applicants face a long wait. It can take anywhere between 2 and 30 years to be approved for a parent visa in Australia.

There are two main parent visa categories: non-contributory and contributory

 

There are two main parent visa categories: non-contributory and contributory.
Non-contributory visas include the permanent subclasses 103 and 804 visas. These types of visas are the most affordable option but come with the downside of an extremely long wait. Contributory visas fall into subclasses 143, 173, 864, and 884. Subclasses 143 and 864 are permanent visas while subclasses 173 and 884 are two-year temporary visas. These visas are much faster to process but significantly more expensive. Migration agent and lawyer from Brisbane's The Migration Place Zeke Bentley explains the differences between parent visas.

 

Non-contributory visas cost around $3,900 for the main applicant and $2,000 for the dependant spouse

"The chief difference is how much money you're prepared to spend. The slow way is particularly slow. It takes 18 to 30 years. The quick ways involve costs of between $45,000 and $55,000 overall per parent which is very expensive which is why some people elect the slow way."

 

You have to pass the health and character tests both at the time when you apply and at the time of the grant of the visa

Non-contributory visas cost around $3,900 for the main applicant and $2,000 for the dependant spouse.
Parents can stay in Australia under a bridging visa during the long wait for their residency.

"Bridging visas are available where The Department of Immigration takes time to process the visa itself so it's meant to bridge the gap between when you lodge and when they make their decision. Now, because they don't grant many of the slow visas that queue is all that time long."

 

Contributory visas are much faster to get, costing over $47,000 per parent

While these visas are the cheapest option, Zeke Bentley says there are unexpected risks involved.  

"The main issue is you have to pass the health and character tests both at the time when you apply and at the time of the grant of the visa."

Parent visa applicants could be caught out many years after they apply for their visa if they experience health issues.

 

The fast ways lead to permanent residency pretty quickly which means you're entitled to get all sorts of social security benefits

"If after 20 years they reach you in the queue and say we're ready to give you your visa. They say just go and get your health fund. If you've had a health issue over those 20 years and it means you fail the health test, then all of a sudden you've got no visa that allows you to stay in Australia. Even though you've been here for 20 years you've got to leave the country."

Contributory visas are much faster to get, costing over $47,000 per parent. These visas are granted within two years. Zeke Bentley says fast visas are becoming a popular choice among his clients.

"The fast ways lead to permanent residency pretty quickly which means you're entitled to get all sorts of social security benefits, and you've got a visa which can't really be reversed, and you're in entitlement to citizenship. For all those reasons, it's probably worth paying the extra fifty odd grand to get it through because you're getting the benefit of all those other things which you don't get through the other way and you're avoiding all the risks."

 

Not all families can afford to pay over $100,000 to bring both parents over as permanent residents

Not all families can afford to pay over $100,000 to bring both parents over as permanent residents. Migration agent Lakmal Isuru Yapa from Brisbane-based Sirus Migration says there is a compromised fast route available.

"If the parents are still in their working age, they can apply for 173 or 884 temporary visa category, which only initially cost them $29,130. Then they have two years to live in Australia. They have access to Medicare system as well and they have full time work rights. Within the two years they can come and earn that money."

 

Parent visa applicants need a sponsor who is an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen

This option allows temporary residents to save up for the additional $19,000 required to switch to a permanent subclass 143 visa within the two year period. The application process is similar for both non-contributory and contributory visas. Parent visa applicants need a sponsor who is an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen. Migration agent Zeke Bentley explains.

 

Visa applicants must also satisfy the balance of family test

"You also need to have been settled here for a period of time. The rule of thumb is two years. You can bring that forward if you can show you're really permanently settled here."

Visa applicants must also satisfy the balance of family test.

"What that really means is you have to show most of your family live in Australia. For example, if you've got three children, you need to show two of them have residency and live in Australia. If it's the other way round, if you've got one here and two overseas, you won't be eligible, you have to show most of your family live in Australia. If it's equal, one child here, one child overseas, that's sufficient for visa to go through."

 

Passing the health assessment is crucial

"Do you have a health issue which is likely to cost Australia more than $40,000 over a five year period? If you have a condition such as…I think HIV has been specifically excluded but it's a good example, HIV is treated inexpensively its antiretroviral you can get it from pharmacy you don't have to see the doctor all up. Funnily enough having HIV doesn't mean you'll fail the test whereas something like a chronic back condition or cancer which if you need treatment it's going to be very expensive then you'll fail the test."

 

Applicants are also required to provide an Assurance of Support

Applicants are also required to provide an Assurance of Support. It's effectively a government bond held with Centrelink. Contributory visa applicants deposit a $10,000 bond for the main applicant and $4,000 for the secondary applicant. This bond stays with Centrelink for ten years. Whereas non-contributory visa applicants put in a lower amount, $5,000 for the main applicant and $2,000 for the secondary applicant. The bond stays with Centrelink for two years. Here is Lakmal Isuru Yapa.

 

There are approximately 40 thousand parents on the lower cost visa waiting list for the slower non-contributory visas

"If the parents access any government assistance they will deduct some of that money from the bond itself but the bond actually accrues a bit of interest as well from the bank."

 

The higher cost contributory visa has 7175 open places this year - the Immigration Department estimates it will take between 12 and 24 months for these visas to be decided

There are approximately 40 thousand parents on the lower cost visa waiting list for the slower non-contributory visas. With only 1500 visa places offered this financial year, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection says applicants can expect a 30 year wait before visa grant consideration. While the higher cost contributory visa has 7175 open places this year - the Immigration Department estimates it will take between 12 and 24 months for these visas to be decided.

For more information on parent visa options visit The Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

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