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Australian government has announced a new visa for migrants' parents.
As many as 15,000 people each year will be able to pay up to $20,000 to bring their parents to Australia for up to a decade, SBS News can reveal.
The financial burden of healthcare for migrant parents will be shouldered by their children under the new visa, with sponsors legally required to pay for their private health insurance.
The children will also need to act as financial guarantor on any extra healthcare costs their parents rack up in Australia
“There's great expense to the taxpayer in relation to health costs over time with elderly parents,” Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke told SBS News.
“That's the problem that governments around the world have been wrestling with.”
Under the new scheme, applicants could seek a three-year visa for $5,000 or a five-year visa for $10,000, with the opportunity of a single renewal for another five years at the same price.
The visa rules would help the government limit rising healthcare costs and, if legislated, could deliver hundreds of millions in visa fees to the Budget bottom line.
If the 15,000 quota were filled in the first year, the Treasury could bank $150 million in fees alone.
Those on the new visa will not be allowed to work, however, the government hopes they will take on family roles which would see “reduced pressure on childcare facilities.”
“Grandparents will be available and able to, under this visa, care for their grandchildren while the parents work,” Mr Hawke said.
But those from Indian community in Australia who campaigned for this long stay visa for parents are not happy.
Arvind Duggal, resident of Adelaide, who kickstarted this 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.
"The cost of three-year-visa at the moment is $170 which allows our parents to stay 2 years in Australia.
"The new visa wants us to pay $4700 to spend one year extra. This is a lot of money," he says.
The government plans to officially announce the visa along with the Budget next week, making good on an election promise from the 2016 campaign.
The change follows months of community consultation and is a response to calls from migrant communities who have been pressuring the government for reform to parent visas, arguing that the current system is complex and prone to long delay.
Those sponsoring their parents for the new visa need to be Australian citizens or permanent residents, or “eligible New Zealand citizens”.
The visa-holders would not be allowed to reapply beyond the 10 years and would have no pathway to permanent residency.
Parent visas are currently split across several visa streams, including the Aged Parent visa, the Contributory Parent (Temporary) and the permanent Contributory Parent visa.
The government plans to roll out the new visa from November if it passes parliament.
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