The federal government has announced that it will officially open applications for the long-awaited temporary sponsored visa for the parents of migrants by early next year.
Last month, the Australian senate successfully passed the Migration Amendments (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 almost two years after the changes were initially announced, which will allow the rollout of the new visa to go ahead.
When the visa was first announced, the government stated that applicants would be able to apply for a three-year visa for a fee of $5,000, or a five-year visa for $10,000, with the option of a single renewal for another five years at the same cost.
The Minister for Immigration, David Coleman, blamed the long delay on the actions of the Labor party, accusing them of delaying the visa by opposing the government’s amendments to the legislation after they initially supported it.
“This new visa will help families reunite and spend time together,” Coleman said.
“It will provide a new pathway for parents and grandparents to visit their families in Australia, which will deliver great social benefits to the Australian community.”
“It is astounding that the Labor Party voted against this important legislation. Bill Shorten needs to explain to communities why he instructed his Senators to stand in the way of this reform.”
However, the Labor party has denied these claims, arguing that it opposed the amendments to the legislation due to the increased debt recovery powers it would grant the government. According to the Shadow Minister for Immigration, Shayne Neumann, the Coalition government should deliver the visa that it promised during the 2016 election, not a “revised version”.
“Conditions like this would force families to choose which parents or in-laws they reunite with. Labor had previously written to the new Immigration Minister David Coleman expressing these concerns and their impacts,” Neumann said.
The new visa has also drawn criticism from migrant advocacy groups due to the high fees, and the government’s newly amended revision which limits applicants to one set of parents per family.
Jujhar Bajwa, a Melbourne-based migration agent agreed, saying that “I don’t know if many migrants will be keen on this visa for their parents, but I certainly won’t suggest anyone go for it.”
“It just doesn’t make sense to pay such exorbitant visa fee.”
“The high fee isn’t the only issue, there’s a mandatory requirement for private health insurance from an Australian provider and in case the parents incur a healthcare debt, the sponsoring children are legally obliged to pay it back despite paying such huge fee. Whereas in the normal visitor visas, there’s no such provision,” he said.