Melbourne, June 18: Australian Labor Party has announced, if elected, the current visitor visa will be changed to allow parents to stay 3 years continuously to spend more quality time with their families and grandchildren.

This scheme will one month reapplying period.

A Shorten Labor Government will extend provisions in the Visitor Visa program, strengthening migrant communities and helping families to be able to stay together longer.

In a release, Richard Marles, member for Corio and Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection said that “migrants make a valuable contribution to Australian society – overseas migration represents approximately 55 per cent of Australia’s population growth, and almost one in two Australians has a parent born overseas.

“Cultivating these rich cultural ties is good for our communities, and good for the future of our country”.

Labor will amend the terms and conditions of the Visitor Visa to enable parents to stay in Australia for a continuous period of up to three years – an increase from the current period of up to 12 months.

After the three-year period is completed, parents will only have to leave Australia for four weeks, compared to six months under the current requirements.

However, Labor will introduce a mandatory requirement for visa holders to purchase a health insurance policy with an Australian company prior to entering Australia.

Separately, a bond of $5,000 per visa holder, will also be implemented “ensuring that ageing parents will not add to the load on Australian medical and social services”, it was stated in the release.

Michelle Rowland, member for Greenway and Shadow Citizenship and Multiculturalism Minister said that “the Liberals attempted to abolish some parent visa categories in 2014, and when this failed, they put parent visas as the lowest priority of processing.

She explained that the proposed visa is not intended to be a pathway to permanent residency for elderly parents, and that the stipulation for private health insurance is designed to ease the burden on taxpayers.

“Their decisions undermine the contribution that multicultural communities make to Australian society, and completely disregard the benefits which come with keeping family units together”, Ms Rowland said.

Labor’s proposal comes as a result of the campaign #‎longstayvisaforparents, a migrant community initiative demanding their visiting parents be allowed into Australia, on longer stay visas.

The massive campaign has been gaining ground in migrant communities, especially newly arrived young skilled migrants who see their parents as a very good support system for themselves and their young children.

Currently, visas which allow parents of migrants’ to live permanently in Australia have a 30-year gestation period or otherwise are cost prohibitive – $50,000 per person.

Labor’s election promise, if implemented will benefit migrants and their families and yet cover tax-payers with the provision for mandatory private health cover with long-stay visa for parents.

This Shorten Labor proposal is being viewed as “progressive multiculturalism” by many from migrant background.

Nidhi Mehta

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