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12 things you need to know about Australia’s new parent visa

 The Australian government announced it would be implementing a temporary sponsored parent visa by July 1 2017, giving families an alternative to the current expensive and lengthy visa processes.

“The Government’s intention is that any new temporary parent visa arrangement should help offset these issues, while allowing Australia to benefit socially through having united families and cohesive communities,” the Department of Immigration says.

Here’s what you need to know:

1 – The visa will last for a maximum of 5 years and will be ‘affordable’

Unlike the current parental visas, the temporary visa wouldn’t be part of Australia’s annual permanent migration stream.

Visa holders would be able to stay in the country for up to five years before renewal.

The discussion paper says the visa would be available for periods of one, three or five years, depending on the capacity of the child to support their parent, the health and age of the applicant, and the length the applicant desires.

No price has been set yet for the visa, but the government has said it will be “more affordable” than current parent visa options.

2 – There is no need to apply for permanent migration

The temporary parent visa would not be connected to the permanent migration stream, instead it provides an alternative option.

The government says that parents would be able to also apply for a permanent visa if they wished.

3 – Visa holders won’t be eligible for healthcare or welfare

Unlike permanent migrants, parent visa-holders will not be eligible for Medicare and other forms of government welfare.

The visa is designed to allow parents to live with their children in Australia, without the associated cost in government services.

“Australians make lifetime contributions to these subsidies through their income tax and annual Medicare levy. People who arrive in Australia towards the end of their working life have not made this level of contribution,” the discussion paper says.

4 – Visa holders will have to have private health insurance

The government has said that parents would have to obtain private health insurance from an Australian company before arriving in the country.

“The insurance will need to be taken out with an Australian insurance provider, as these understand the Australian health system,” the government says.

Health screenings are also likely to apply, as they do with many other visas which last longer than six months.

The government is seeking submissions on how to structure the health screening process, given many applicants may be elderly.

5 – Parents must have a child sponsoring them

Applicants for the new visa must be sponsored by their children.

“Sponsors have a significant responsibility to support their parents, particularly in situations where they are not financially independent, or do not have functional English,” the government says.

Sponsors must demonstrate they have been living in Australia for a number of years and are contributing to the country financially – this may come in the form of proof of employment and a stable financial situation.

The government has also said that those who have ‘contributed to Australia’ for a longer period would have higher priority.

“Australian citizen sponsors will be given higher priority under the new arrangements, as generally they have been contributing to Australia for a greater period of time,” the government says.

If necessary, sponsors would have to show that they can support their parents, which may include income and assets assessments.

These assessments would be a process which must be completed prior to application, and would include a criminal history check and a range of enforceable agreements.

6 – A bond may be payable to obtain the visa

In addition to sponsorship, a bond would also be payable by the sponsor.

“A bond arrangement can assist in recouping costs where sponsorship obligations have not been honoured,” the discussion paper says.

The bond would be drawn upon if healthcare costs become an issue, or if a sponsor fails to support their parent. The discussion paper also mentions drawing upon the bond if the parent is subjected to family violence.

The final form of the bond hasn’t yet been decided by the government. It may be payable in a lump sum, in installments, or could even be a HECS-style loan.

7 – English may be a requirement

“While it is likely that some potential visa applicants would have no or limited English proficiency, there may also be a benefit in requiring these visa holders to demonstrate some improvement in English capability over time,” the discussion paper says.

“People with a good grasp of English are better able to involve themselves in the Australian community and have improved capability to access day to day and emergency services,” it says.