The federal government has introduced a new visa scheme targeted for the parents of migrants, who will be allowed to stay in Australia for up to 10 years.
The ‘Temporary Sponsored Parent Visa’ was one of the 2016 election promises made by Malcolm Turnbull and it was included in the 2017-2018 budget; its implementation is dependent on when the amendment to the Act is passed by Parliament.
Under the new scheme, migrants to Australia will be able to sponsor their parents coming to the country for up to a decade. Applicants could seek a a three-year visa for $5,000 or a five-year visa for $10,000, with the opportunity of a single renewal for another five years at the same price.
The new scheme could benefit up to 15,000 migrant families – mostly those seeking to have their parents spend extended periods of time with them in Australia.
Although new visa holders will not be allowed permanent residence status in Australia, nor the right to work, the government hopes they will take on family roles which would see reduced pressure on childcare facilities.”Grandparents will be available and able to, under this visa, care for their grandchildren while the parents work,” Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke told SBS News.
More importantly, these visa holders will be required to hold insurance from an Australian provider to cover health costs for the duration of their stay in Australia, and they will also be required to pay for any public health debt they incur, with their sponsor being legally liable for any outstanding debts.
This significantly raises the cost for Australians of migrant background who wish to bring their parents to the country, with many community stakeholders foreseeing a rise in private health insurance premiums.
Though it is common for temporary visas to require private health insurance, it is the first time the government requires migrants to be liable for public health cover, without a safety net for emergencies and unforeseen health crises.
The move to limit the healthcare access of elderly migrants comes following a Productivity Commission report last year that found the average lifetime cost of a single parent visa holder is between $335,000 and $410,000.
The government aims to limit increasing healthcare costs this way and it relies on visa fees for funding the Budget. If approved by Parliament, the new scheme will start rolling out in November; should the 15,000 quota be filled in the first year, the Treasury could bank $150 million in fees alone.