Coalition upped continuous-stay for Migrants’ parents to 5 Years in limbo?

Melbourne, July 6: As counting still drags on with Coalition at 72 and Labor at 66, one important aspect of election 2016 promise is now in limbo.

However, the possibility of a hung Parliament means that it is unlikely there will be any culling to Parent visas for the time being, but it is equally unlikely that any urgent reform and simplification to the visitor visa can be seen soon.

Also the proposed changes to the parents’ visa scheme will likely be stalled for quite some time.

A re-elected Turnbull Government during its election 2016 campaign had promised to enhance existing visitor visas to enable sponsored parents to visit their family in Australia for a continuous period of up to five years.

Currently, parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents who have lodged a permanent parental visa application may be issued with a visitor visa of up to five years duration, on a case-by case basis.

In an attempt to woo new migrants, this Coalition announcement comes on the heels of Labor’s proposal of 3 years continuous stay.

The Coalition, if returned to Office will remove the requirement for these parents to have lodged a concurrent permanent parental visa application.

“The Coalition recognises that many Australians, including our growing South Asian and Chinese communities, face particular pressures through the separation of children from parents and grandchildren from grandparents,” Mr Dutton said.

“We want to help families reunite and spend time together, while ensuring that we do so in a way that does not burden Australia’s health care system,” he said.

Echoing similar safeguarding measures of Labor, Coalition’s plan will also warrant visitors applying for the enhanced parental visitor visa to demonstrate that they hold adequate private health insurance from an Australian provider.

They or their sponsoring family will also be required to pay a bond based on the existing Assurance of Support Scheme.

Labor, while seeking parents to leave Australia for only four weeks, compared to six months under the current requirements, after the three-year period is completed; has sought to 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, was also proposed to be implemented “ensuring that ageing parents will not add to the load on Australian medical and social services”, it was stated in the release.

Coalition’s measures built on the earlier visa reforms specifically targeted for the Indian and Chinese markets, “to enhance our national economic and social prosperity” including:

  • Three-year multiple entry tourist visas for Indian, Chinese and other nationals.
  • Premium processing in key markets, including India.
  • A 10-year visitor visa and on-line Chinese language application for approved Chinese nationals.

A Scanlon Foundation release had earlier stated that confidence in Australia’s migration program has grown under the Coalition, following decrease in boat arrivals which is perceived as restoration of border control measures.

Michelle Rowland, member for Greenway and Shadow Citizenship and Multiculturalism Minister 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.

Both Labor and Coalition proposals came 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.

These election promises is being viewed as “progressive multiculturalism” by many from migrant background.

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.

Nidhi Mehta

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