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It makes sense for migrants who have built their lives in Australia to want their parents close-by. But getting a parent visa can take up to thirty years. However, some families who can afford it are willing to pay a higher price to speed up the process.
By
Audrey Bourget and Amy Chien-Yu Wang

28 Jun 2017 - 11:55 AM  UPDATED 5 Jul 2017 - 4:07 PM

If you want your parents to come live in Australia, there are two main visa categories, non-contributory and contributory. Zeke Bentley is a migration agent and lawyer at The Migration Place in Brisbane. He explains that the main difference between the two type of visas is cost and wait time.

"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."

Let's look first at non-contributory visas, which include the permanent subclasses 103 and 804 visas. That's the most affordable option, at around six thousand dollars for the main applicant and two thousand dollars for the dependant spouse. But most applicants face a long wait, up to thirty years. They can stay in Australia under a bridging visa during the wait for their residency. But Zeke Bentley says that by the time they get to the top of the list, they can get rejected if they don't pass the health test.

If you want your parents to come live in Australia, there are two main visa categories, non-contributory and contributory.

"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."

The other main option, that's quicker, but more expensive, is the contributory visas, subclasses 143, 173, 864 and 884. They are granted within two years, but cost almost fifty thousand dollars. Sirus Migration Lawyer Sam Jazayeri says they are a popular choice for those who can afford it.

"The thing is that they have to contribute a large amount of money around 29 000 dollars so for the two years, they can be in Australia. They cannot renew that visa, but they can apply for a contributory permanent visa after that, so that gives them an option to be here permanently. Then again, if they want to go permanent with the contributory parent visa, they have to pay another 20 000 dollars so altogether it would be 40 to 50 000 dollars by parent for this visa. It's a great option time wise and it could result in permanent residency, but how many people can afford that?"

The other main option, that's quicker, but more expensive, is the contributory visas, subclasses 143, 173, 864 and 884. If both parents are coming, the cost is almost a hundred thousand dollars.

But affordability is not the only issue, says Zeke Bentley. Visa applicants must also pass character, health and balance of family tests.

"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."

If the parents don't satisfy the balance of family requirement, they can come to Australia on a visitor visa, staying here for a year, but they then have to go back to their country for six months before being able to come back.

Last May, the government proposed a new temporary sponsored parent visa that could last for up to ten years, but again, it's not cheap.

"This visa could be granted for three years or five years. The three years one, the cost of it is 5000 dollars and the five years one it's 10 000 dollars. There's no bond required, as opposed to the ones we have already in place and they could be renewed for up to ten years. So basically it gives the applicants the possibility of being here for up to ten years with their children or possibly their grandchildren."

But after paying twenty thousand dollars and living in Australia for ten years, the parents would then have to go back to their home country, they wouldn't be allowed to stay in Australia. So what's the purpose of the visa? Sam Jazayeri explains.

If the parents don't satisfy the balance of family requirement, they can come to Australia on a visitor visa, staying here for a year, but they then have to go back to their country for six months before being able to come back.

"One of the goals that Immigration had with this was that it's good to help the childcare industry and getting the grandchildren looked after by grandparents, but the problem with that is what happens after ten years?"

Arvind Duggal was hoping the government would come up with a more affordable option. He moved to Australia in 2008 with his young family. His mother visits as often as the immigration laws let her, but she can't apply for a permanent visa, because she doesn't pass the balance of family test, she has two daughters in India. Arvind Duggal says he's disappointed with the new visa.

"If you look at the term and conditions, they're really unaffordable and they're really unaffordable for many of us."

This new temporary sponsored parent visa still needs to be voted in. If it passes in parliament, it could be available by the end of the year. In the meantime, the contributory and non-contributory parent visas, as well as the visitor visas remain the best options for parent visas.

You can find out more

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