On 1 March 2019, the Department of Home Affairs (Department) announced that:
- applications to sponsor a parent through the Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa (temporary Parent visa) will be open from 17 April 2019; and
- once a sponsorship application is approved, a sponsored parent will be able to apply for the temporary Parent visa. Applications for the visa are intended to open from 1 July 2019.
The new visa provides parents with a new pathway to temporarily reside in Australia, and is the Department’s response to community concerns about the limited number of Parent places in the migration program and associated lengthy waiting periods. This article provides a summary of the key talking points regarding the visa.
What is the purpose of this new visa and what is the difference compared to existing pathways for parent?
Historically, parents have been able to travel to Australia on Visitor visas, Parent visas, or Contributory Parent visas. Each pathway has differing requirements and can be carefully selected to cater to the needs and abilities of the parents / sponsors. However, the Australian community has rightfully been concerned about the long waiting periods and high cost for the Parent visas, and the short term nature of the Visitor visas (usually 12 month stay periods). In relation to the existing Parent visas, data from the Department shows that:
“As at 30 June 2018, 50,642 applicants remain in the pipeline [for Parent visas].
As at 30 June 2018, 48,595 applicants remain in the pipeline [for Contributory Parent visas].” 
The new temporary Parent visa provides parents with an alternative option to the above options, permitting parents to remain in Australia for a longer period of time than Visitor visas (up to five years at a time without departing) and at a reduced cost to Contributory parent visas.
This new visa does not preclude parents from applying for Visitor visas and/or permanent Parent visas if they still wish. Potential applicants are in the best position to determine which visa is most appropriate for their own circumstances, noting that each visa has different requirements, visa application charges, conditions and stay periods.
- the new temporary Parent visa is just that: temporary. It does not allow for permanent residence, which parents can still apply for through an existing permanent Parent visa stream; however
- unlike permanent Parent visas, there is no Balance of Family Test requirement for this visa, meaning a visa applicant is not required to have half or more of their children residing in Australia. This provides a means to a relatively long stay to parents who would otherwise be limited to Visitor visas.
A summary of the differences between the visa options for parents is recorded below:
|$355 per applicant
|$4,035 for one parent ($2,020 for second parent)
|~43,000 per parent
|$5,000 for 3 year visa / $10,000 for 5 year visa
|12 months (though can be 3 years for parents outside of Australia or 5 years for parents outside of Australia and in the Parent visa queue) usually with 12 month stay periods
|5 year visas (cumulative maximum of 10 years)
Balance of family test required?
When can you lodge an application for the visa?
Sponsorship applications can be lodged from 17 April 2019. When a sponsor has been approved, the visa applicant will then be able to lodge their visa application which is intended to open from 1 July 2019.
Sponsorship and visa applications must be lodged online through ImmiAccount.
There is a cap on this visa, what does that mean?
Up to 15,000 Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visas may be granted each program year (from 1 July to 30 June). If the cap is reached in a program year, no further visas will be granted until the next program year commences on 1 July.
There has historically been a strong demand for partner visas, with Department statistics noting:
“The Non-Contributory Parent category outcome for 2017-18 was 1356 places. Demand for places decreased by 1161 applications (or 37.1 per cent) between 30 June 2017 and 30 June 2018.
As at 30 June 2018, 50,642 applicants remain in the pipeline, a decrease of 2.9 per cent (or 1531 applications) compared to the pipeline as at 30 June 2017.
The Contributory Parent category outcome for 2017-18 was 6015 places. Demand for places decreased by 10,249 applications (or 46.9 per cent) between 30 June 2017 and 30 June 2018. As at 30 June 2018, 48,595 applicants remain in the pipeline, an increase of 8.3 per cent compared to the pipeline of 44,886 applicants as at 30 June 2017.” 
It will be important to see numbers in June 2019 to determine whether the cap is sufficient to permit timely processing of the new temporary Parent visa, and reduce the pipeline in the existing Parent visa categories.
What are the eligibility requirements for the sponsorship?
According to Department announcements, sponsors must meet the following criteria:
- the sponsor/parent relationship requirements (i.e.: a parent must be the biological, adoptive, or step-parent of the sponsor and a step-parent can only apply if they are still in a married/de facto relationship with a biological parent of the sponsor);
- be aged at least 18 years of age;
- be an Australian citizen/permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen who has been usually resident in Australia for four years;
- have met any prior sponsorship obligations;
- have no adverse information unless it is reasonable to disregard the information;
- have no debts to the Commonwealth or public health debts unless appropriate arrangements have been made for payment;
- a minimum household income threshold (based on the income of the sponsor, or the combined income of the sponsor and their spouse/partner and/or another child of the parent);
- provide police clearances for any country they have spent more than 12 months cumulatively in during the past 10 years; and
- authorise information to be shared with the visa applicant.
Sponsors must also agree to comply with sponsorship obligations in relation to the parent(s) they are sponsoring.
What are the sponsorship obligations?
A parent sponsor will be required to meet obligations including:
- providing financial support and accommodation for their parent in Australia;
- keeping records and providing them to the Department if asked. For example, evidence of income. This obligation ends two years after the day the person ceases to be a sponsor;
- advising the Department when certain events occur. For example, if they are charged with a crime. This obligation ends the day after the person ceases to be a sponsor;
- paying outstanding public health debts incurred by their parent in Australia. The obligation ceases if the relevant health authority advises the debt has been repaid, or acceptable repayment arrangements have been made. However, this obligation will continue if there are outstanding health debts, even after the parent who incurred them has departed Australia.
If an obligation is breached, the Department can consider:
- cancelling the sponsorship. This means any existing sponsored visa holders must either find another sponsor or depart Australia;
- barring a sponsor. A bar prevents a sponsor from sponsoring further parents for a period of time.
If the parent incurs public health debts in Australia and these are not paid, the party owed the debt will be able to pursue the sponsor, through the Courts if necessary, to have the debt repaid.
How long is a sponsorship valid until?
A parent sponsorship will cease:
- if the sponsor’s permanent visa is cancelled;
- if the sponsor dies;
- if the sponsor withdraws their sponsorship;
- if the sponsored parent does not apply for a Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa within six months of the sponsorship being approved;
- the day that the Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa ceases.
However, some sponsor obligations will continue after the sponsorship ceases, including the obligation to pay any outstanding health debts incurred by the visa holder in Australia, even after their visa has ceased.
What is the visa eligibility?
Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa applicants must:
- be sponsored by a person who is an approved parent sponsor;
- be at least 18 years of age;
- be outside Australia (unless invited in writing to apply by the Department), for at least 90 days if the applicant holds or has previously held a Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa;
- not have engaged in payment for visas conduct;
- provide evidence of access to funds;
- provide evidence of health insurance;
- not have an outstanding public health debt (unless appropriate arrangements have been made to repay the debt);
- satisfy health, character, and national security requirements.
Unlike permanent Parent visas, there is no Balance of Family Test requirement for this visa, meaning a visa applicant is not required to have half or more of their children residing in Australia.
How long can a person stay in Australia on the temporary visa?
The temporary Parent visa allows parents to stay in Australia temporarily for a period of up to five years at a time. A parent must be outside Australia for at least 90 days before being eligible to apply for a further temporary Parent visa. A parent will be able to hold visas up to a total stay in Australia of 10 years, reflecting that the visa is a temporary visa and does not lead to permanent residence.
Parents who have held temporary Parent visas for the cumulative maximum 10 year period must either depart Australia or apply for another visa that will allow them to remain in Australia. They will not be eligible for grant of a further Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa.
What is the cost for the visa and sponsorship?
The sponsorship lodgement fee is expected to be $420.
The visa application charge is expected to be:
- $5,000 for a visa of up to three years’ duration; or
- $10,000 for a visa of up to five years’ duration.
The visa application charge is payable in two instalments, with one payment at time of application and the remainder paid prior to visa grant.
Are there any potential issues of concern?
The success of this visa will largely depend on the processing time. As it is a capped visa, it could reach the same levels of bottle neck as the existing Parent and Contributory Parent streams. This will of course depend on how many applications family members put in. However, in positive news, the visa will likely reduce the demand for the existing Parent visa categories, reducing processing times in the long run.
Another potential issue is that Visa holders will also generally be subject to a “no work” condition. This can be problematic to Parents who have not yet retired.
If you have any questions about visa options for your parents, or require further information about the new proposed temporary Parent visa specifically, feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or phone +61 3 9016 0484.