Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa
Are you one of the many thousands of Australian citizens and permanent residents whose parent(s) live overseas, and they do not have the ability to apply for a permanent visa to migrate to Australia because they do not pass the “balance of family test”?
Balance of family test
The balance of family test is one of the threshold requirements for a parent to permanently migrate to Australia. A parent living overseas can meet the requirements of this test if at least half their children and/or stepchildren are “eligible children”. The parent can also meet the test if more “eligible children” live in Australia than live in any other single country.
You would be considered an “eligible child” if you are an Australian citizen; if you are an Australian permanent resident usually resident here; or if you are an eligible New Zealand citizen usually resident here. Ineligible children are your siblings that live overseas.
The test purports to assess the links of a parent to the child or children living in Australia. It is a crude measure that does not take into consider the nature of the relationship that the parent has with their other children. The test does not care that a parent has not had a relationship with a child living down their street for the last 20 years, but that is in daily communication with the child that lives in Australia. It is a simple and blunt mathematical exercise (with some very limited exceptions).
How does a parent “pass” the balance of family test? As an example, let’s consider a situation where you’ve got one brother, and he lives in the same country as your Mum. Your father passed away years ago. Your mother would meet the balance of family test because half of her children (you) live in Australia.
Let’s assume the same situation, but your mother re-married a few years ago. Your stepfather had one child from his previous relationship. That child lives in the same country as your Mum. She no longer meets the balance of family test because the stepchild counts.
There are exceptions to these rules. If your biological brother died, for example, he would no longer be included in the count. Your Mum would again pass the balance of family test, even with the stepchild.
Please contact us to assess whether or not your parent(s) pass the balance of family test. We’d be happy to make a thorough assessment.
Let’s assume that your mother passes the balance of family test, and that she would like to migrate to Australian permanently. She might be able to apply for one of six different visa subclasses. Assuming she meets the eligibility criteria, in due course should be granted a permanent visa. Let’s consider those visa options in a different article.
Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa
This short article is written for those of us whose parent(s) do not pass the balance of family test (the writer included). A new type of parent visa started from 1 July 2019. It is not a permanent visa, but it is a very good temporary one. The uptake rate of the new visa is far lower than the predictions, so it appears that there are many of us that do not know about it.
The visa is called the Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa and it has been designated subclass 870. The successful applicant will be granted a visa that would allow a stay for 3 years or for 5 years per visa grant. The visa can be applied for more than once, but to a maximum of 10 years. There are no work rights.
The first instalment payment is only $1,000 at the time of writing in early 2020. The department will begin to process the application. If your parent meets the requirements for grant of the visa, then the second instalment becomes payable. An extra $4,000 is paid for the 3 year version and an extra $9,000 is paid for the 5 year version. Those charges are per person, so those costs would double if both parents apply. It isn’t cheap and the government charges could increase over time.. But if the costs were spread over the life of the visa, it would work out to roughly $4.50 a day for the 3 year visa and $5.50 a day for the 5 year visa – roughly the cost of a coffee-shop cappuccino. The gift of enabling your children to know and to spend time with their grandparent is priceless… The ability to spend time with your parent in their twilight years too is a value beyond measurement.
Grandparents can sometimes take care of young children, enabling both you and your partner to work. It can cost more than the visa application for a family of four to fly overseas to visit grandparents (depending of course upon the destination). In short, despite the high cost of the visa application, it can make sound economic sense to apply for the visa, depending upon your circumstances.
Sponsorship; other costs; and minimum income threshold
There are other costs you need to be aware of. First, you will also need to apply to be the Sponsor. That is currently $420. You could be the sponsor of your partner’s parent(s) but each household is limited to only one sponsorship at a time. An approved Sponsor is able to sponsor up to 2 parents per household at a time. Second, there will be charges for police clearance certificates, biometrics, and in some cases, medical assessments. Visa applications are complex legal processes best compiled by a registered migration agent. Professional fees would apply for engaging this expertise.
Unlike some of the permanent visa options, an Assurance of Support is not required.
Assuming your sponsorship application is approved, your parent would need to prepare and lodge the application within six months of the approval date.
Just because you are willing does not necessarily mean that you will be able to sponsor your Mum or Dad for this visa. You will need to demonstrate that in the most recently completed taxable income year prior to lodging the application, your taxable income is at least $83,454.80 (current at the time of writing). If you are nearing retirement, you’d probably want to lodge the application while you are still earning employment income. It would be harder to reach that minimum income threshold when you are no longer in the workforce. If you do not earn enough now, you will need to wait until you start earning more. You cannot be approved as a sponsor unless you’ve reached this taxable income threshold.
Conditions that will be imposed
If the visa is granted, various conditions will be imposed. Your parent or parents would not be able to undertake work. They cannot engage in activities that would be disruptive or violent, threatening harm to the Australian community. They would need to leave Australia before the visa expires. Two days before a change in their name, their address, their phone number, their email address, an online profile, or a username, they would need to inform the Department of Home Affairs. They would breach a visa condition if they engage in criminal conduct. They would not be eligible for Medicare (unless a reciprocal agreement exists) and so they must make adequate arrangements for health insurance while they are in Australia.
Like all other visa applications, there are various eligibility criteria that your Mum or Dad would need to meet. In addition to the requirement to be sponsored, be healthy, and be of good character, they would need to have enough money (or access to money) to support themselves. We cannot tell you how much money they need as the policy guidance for this visa have not been drafted yet. They would probably need less money if they will live with you. They would need to have the intention of staying only temporarily. If they have been in Australia in the past, they must have abided by the conditions that were imposed on that previous visa. They would not be able to get the visa is they owed money to the Australian government, for example by having a public health debt. They would need to make arrangements to have Australian government debts paid back.
Your parent would normally apply for the visa while they are offshore. It is possible for them to apply while they are in Australia, but first they must seek permission to do so from the Department.
At the time of writing, 75% of these applications are determined within 52 days, and 90% are determined within 77 days. It is likely that these estimated processing times will vary, and possibly blow out into the future. The amount of time it takes to prepare the application varies.
When the visa is granted, your parent(s) would have multiple and unlimited re-entry rights. They can leave and re-enter Australia as often as they like for the duration of the visa.
The Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa is a wonderful development in Australian migration law. It enables the reunification of families without placing a burden on Australian taxpayers. The visa holder is not eligible for Medicare and must hold appropriate health insurance, so the Australian community is not disadvantaged. The visa application charges are considerably higher than many other temporary visas and those fees helps fund Australian government services. The parent will naturally consume food and make other purchases while being in Australia, stimulating economic growth. They won’t have work rights so they cannot take away someone’s job. They help contribute to local employment because of their purchases while here. Grandchildren can really get to know their grandchildren and your parents can get to know them.
What’s not to like?
Contact Craig DoRozario or Tom Foran at Potts Lawyers for details. We offer an initial consultation at no charge to you. We can assess whether your parent(s) meet the balance of family test. If not, we can assist you to become a Sponsor, and help reunite your family with a Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa.
To obtain a free 20 minute consultation in relation to your immigration matter, please contact our office on (07) 5532 3133. Your immigration matter will be conducted by Craig DoRozario (MARN 1910298) and/or Tom Foran (MARN 1172414).
Code of Conduct: https://www.mara.gov.au/media/553229/Code_of_Conduct_April_2017.pdf