Labor has promised to make it easier for immigrants to bring their elderly parents to Australia.
The new 870 visa allows older parents to “reunite” with their children and grandchildren in Australia for extended periods.
If elected on Saturday, Labor has promised to reduce the cost of a five year visa from $10,000 to $2,500 while a three year visa would decrease from $5,000 to $1,250.
The ALP has also pledged to remove the current cap of 15,000 visa places which would allow expat families to ‘sponsor’ both sets of parents instead of being restricted to just one set under existing visa regulations.
The Sponsored Parent Temporary Visa 870 was introduced last month by the Coalition government to allow Australian citizens or permanent residents to move their parents here for extended periods.
The 870 visa allows elderly parents to live here on a three or five year visa for a maximum of 10 years but does not allow them to work.
There is no minimum or maximum age limit for parents who wish to apply but they must show they have sufficient funds to support themselves whilst living here.
Those wishing to avail of these visas will need to take out private health insurance as they will not be covered by Medicare.
The child who is sponsoring the visa also commits to covering any health or age related expenses that may be incurred by their parents whilst living in Australia and must first be approved as a sponsor before a parent being can apply for the visa. The sponsorship application fee is $420.
The sponsor must undergo police checks and have a minimum household income of $83,454 to qualify.
Applications from sponsors opened on April 17, and if approved, parents can apply for the 870 visa from July 1.
Unlike other parent visas, the 870 visa does not require the parent to meet the Balance of Family rule.
But the parent must have a child who holds Australian citizenship or permanent residency.
Immigration expert John McQuaid said the visas are attractive for Irish families who have permanent residency and would like to bring grandparents over to spend more time with grandchildren
He said: “It’s very attractive for couples in Australia who are starting to have children and would like to bring the grandparents out to help mind the children or just to spend quality time with their grandkids.
“The downside is there are no work rights for the grandparents and the family have to be able to show they have financial capacity to look after the grandparents while they are here.
“It’s a big financial commitment not to work for 3 or 5 years but it does suit some older grandparents who are retired and have good pensions.”
McQuaid said the new parent visas are in “big demand” and urged anyone who is interested to apply immediately as the quota will be filled quickly.
Applications for parents to apply (once their child has been approved as sponsor) open on July 1 and once filled, it will not re-open again until July the following year.
The Liberal party has branded Labor’s proposal to remove the 15,000 cap if elected as “completely unsustainable.”
The Productivity Commission has estimated that the cost to taxpayers of a permanent parent visa holder was between $335,000 and $410,000 per adult.
John McQuaid has warned voters to take election promises on immigration with “a pinch of salt.”
He said: “When it comes to election time, immigration is a real political football –both parties love to shout about how they are going to fix the immigration situation. Its electioneering.
“If they (Labor) uncap the parent visas, Australia would be flooded with old people and it’s highly unlikely that would happen in my view.
“I think they might increase the quota but I can’t see them totally removing the cap.”
More details on how to apply for the 870 visa are available here.