Australian Citizens, Australian Permanent Residents or eligible New Zealand citizens may sponsor their parents for permanent migration to Australia.The two main categories of Parent visa are:
- Non-contributory Parent visas
- Contributory Parent visas
The differences between the two categories
The differences between the two categories are that:
- the Contributory Parent category has more visa places available than in the non-contributory Parent category each migration program year; and
- Contributory Parent visa applicants make a substantially higher contribution than the non-contributory Parent visa applicants to their future health and welfare costs.
Parents of Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents or eligible New Zealand citizens may apply for migration to Australia in either the non-contributory Parent or Contributory Parent visa category.
The non-contributory Parent visa categories have a processing queue of up to 15 years and are generally not a favoured migration option of most visa applicants.
Sponsorship by a child
- Parents may be able to migrate to Australia if they have a child in Australia who is an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.
- All parents applying for a visa in the Contributory Parent category must meet the ‘balance of family’ test. This means the parent must have:
- at least half of their children living lawfully and permanently in Australia; or
- more children living lawfully and permanently in Australia than in any other single country overseas
Children of both parents are counted in the test, including any children from all previous relationships. Children to be considered for the balance of family test include natural, adopted and step children. This is irrespective of whether they are dependent, self-supporting, married, single or divorced.
Children whose whereabouts are unknown or cannot be verified are counted as being in their parents’ country of usual residence.
The quality of a parent’s relationship with their children is not a relevant factor in the balance of family test.
The purpose of the test is to objectively establish the closeness of a parent’s ties to Australia and the support likely to be available to them from their children in Australia.
Children are not counted in the balance of family test if they:
- are removed from their parents’ legal custody by adoption or court order; or
- are step-children acquired as adults (that is, aged 18 years and over) by a parent who is later widowed, divorced or permanently separated from the step-children’s parent; or
- are registered by the UNHCR as refugees and live in a camp operated by the UNHCR or Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; or
- suffer persecution or human rights abuse and cannot be reunited with their parents in another country.
Non-contributory Parent category – visa classes
There are two visa subclasses in the non-contributory Parent category:
For parents residing outside Australia:
- Whilst outside Australia parents may apply only for a non-contributory Parent (Subclass 103) visa. Applicants who apply outside Australia must then be outside Australia at the time of the decision to grant the visa.
For parents residing in Australia:
- In most cases, parents already in Australia may apply only for an Aged Parent (Subclass 804) visa. To do this, the parent must be an “aged” parent. Applicants must then be inside Australia at the time of the decision to grant the visa;
- Parents who are in Australia and who do not meet the age requirement may apply to the Parent Visa Centre (PVC) for a non-contributory Parent (subclass 103) visa as long as they are not specifically barred from lodging an application while they are in Australia. Applicants in Australia for a non-contributory Parent (Subclass 103) visa are not eligible for the grant of an associated bridging visa to remain in Australia while their application is being processed; applicants must be outside Australia at the time of the decision to grant the visa;
- Applicants may be barred from lodging an application while they are in Australia if they have an 8503, 8534, or 8535 ‘no further stay’ condition on their current visa, or if they have been refused the grant of a visa since last entering Australia. These people are also restricted from lodging their application by mail or courier to the PVC while they are in Australia.
Non-contributory Parent category – visa requirements
Generally, the following are requirements for visas in the parent category:
- The applicant must be a parent of a child who is an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen;
- The applicant’s child must be settled in Australia (in most cases, lawfully and permanently resident for at least 2 years) and generally must sponsor the applicant.
- The applicant must pass the “balance of family” test. This means the applicants must have at least half of their children living lawfully and permanently in Australia, or more children living lawfully and permanently in Australia than in any other single country overseas;
- The applicant must meet health and character requirements;
- An Assurance of Support and an Assurance of Support bond (held for 2 years) must be provided. An Assurance of Support (AoS) is a legal commitment by an assurer to repay the Commonwealth of Australia any benefits paid to those applicants covered by the assurance. The AoS may be provided by an Australian permanent resident or citizen who meets the income requirement set by Centrelink.
Lodgement of this bond is not required until just before grant of a visa.
Contributory Parent category
Applicants for visas in the contributory parent category pay a significantly higher second visa application charge as a contribution to their ongoing health costs.
A parent can apply for either a permanent or a temporary Contributory Parent visa.
For parents residing outside Australia:
- Subclass 143 Contributory Parent (Migrant) visa; and
- Subclass 173 Contributory Parent (Temporary) visa.
For “aged” parents residing in Australia:
- Subclass 864 Contributory Aged Parent (Residence) visa; and
- Subclass 884 Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) visa.
Parents of any age outside Australia may apply for a Contributory Parent or a Contributory Parent (Temporary) visa. Applicants for a Subclass 143 visa or Subclass 173 visa must be outside Australia to be granted a visa and are not eligible for the grant of a bridging visa to remain in Australia whilst their application is processed.
Contributory Parent (Temporary) visa
The Contributory Parent (Temporary) visa:
- is valid for two years;
- provides access to Medicare and full work rights from the date of grant of that visa;
- cannot be extended or renewed;
- entitles the visa holder to apply for the corresponding permanent Contributory Parent visa any time during the two year validity period of the temporary visa.
Holders of a temporary Contributory Parent visa who apply for the corresponding permanent visa during the two years obtain certain concessions, such as:
- they complete a shorter application form;
- they pay a substantially reduced first visa application charge on lodgment of the permanent visa application;
- they are not re-assessed against the “balance of family” test; and
- generally, they are not required to undergo further health checks.
If a person does not apply for the permanent Contributory Parent visa before the expiry of their temporary Contributory Parent visa, they do not get the benefit of these concessions.
A person who is the holder, or has been the holder of, a temporary Contributory Parent visa since last entering Australia can make a valid application for only a very limited range of visas: the corresponding permanent Contributory Parent category visa, a Medical Treatment visa or a Protection visa.
Contributory Aged Parent (permanent and temporary) visas
Parents may apply in Australia for a Contributory Aged Parent or a Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) visa only if they are “aged”.
A parent is aged if they are old enough to be granted an Australian age pension. For men the qualifying age for an Australian age pension is 65 years and for women it is gradually being increased from 60 to 65 years. For instance, until 31 December 2003, the qualifying age for women was 62 years, but between 1 January 2004 and 30 June 2005, the qualifying age was 62.5 years.
Contributory Parent category – visa requirements
Additional general requirements for visas in the Contributory Parent category:
- At least one of the applicant’s children must be settled in Australia (in most cases, lawfully and permanently resident for at least 2 years) and the child of the parent is 18 years or older;
- Sponsors must generally be aged 18 or more and then the parent can be sponsored by that child or by that child’s genuine spouse. But in cases where a child has not turned 18, applicants may be sponsored by the spouse of their child, a close relative or guardian of their child or a community organisation;
- Generally, an applicant cannot change their sponsor after they have lodged their contributory parent category visa application. The only exception to this is if a person is a temporary contributory parent visa holder and, whilst that visa is still valid they apply for the corresponding permanent visa with a new sponsoring child or eligible person.
- The applicant must meet health and character requirements;
- An Assurance of Support (AoS) is required for permanent visa (Subclasses 143 and 864) applicants; an AoS is a legal commitment by an assurer to repay the Commonwealth of Australia any benefits paid to those applicants covered by the assurance. This is for the first 10 years after the applicants migrate from overseas or are granted permanent residence in Australia; The AoS may be provided by an Australian permanent resident or citizen who meets the income requirement set by Centrelink.
- All applicants for a permanent Contributory Parent visa (Subclasses 143 and 864) require an Assurance of Support bond (held for 10 years) for the main applicant and for any adult secondary applicant that must be paid;
- All applicants for a temporary Contributory Parent visa (Subclasses 173 and 884) require an Assurance of Support bond (held for 2 years) for the main applicant and for any adult secondary applicant that must be paid.
Parent Migration – Visa Application Charges
All parent visa applicants are required to pay a first and second Visa Application Charge (VAC). Generally, the first VAC is the same for both the Parent and Contributory Parent categories and must be paid at time of lodging an application.
Only one first visa application charge is payable for the entire family unit (on a combined application). Before the visa is granted the second instalment of the visa application charge must be paid for each person included in the application.
The second VAC for the contributory parent category is considerably higher than for the parent category. Payment of the second VAC is not required until just before grant of a visa.
As an alternative to applying directly for a permanent contributory parent category visa, applicants can choose to spread the payment of the second VAC by paying a first instalment for a two-year temporary Contributory Parent visa. At any time during the two-year period, such visa holders can then apply for the corresponding permanent Contributory Parent visa and pay the balance of the second VAC, just before the permanent visa is granted.
Processing Priorities and The Parent Visa Centre
The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship has issued a Direction for migration officers giving guidance on the order of priority for processing Family Stream applications.
Within the Family Stream, all Parent visa applications are given a lower processing priority than other family members such as partners and children. Within the Parent visa categories, the Contributory Parent category has a higher processing priority than the Parent category.
All Contributory Parent visa applications from applicants who reside outside Australia must be lodged and processed at the Parent Visa Centre (PVC). Applications cannot be lodged at other immigration department offices and must be lodged at the PVC.
The average processing time at the PVC varies. Applicants lodging well documented Contributory Parent visa applications could expect processing times up to 18 months. This time-frame can be shorter or longer and is dependent on a range of factors including individual circumstances.