Australia is a popular destination for many migrants seeking a better life. However, for parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents, obtaining a permanent visa to join their loved ones in Australia can be a long and arduous process. The two main parent visas available are the Contributory Parent visa and the Aged Parent visa. Unfortunately, the wait times for these visas are among the longest of any Australian visa category.
The Contributory Parent visa is a popular option for those who want to join their children in Australia. It requires a significant financial commitment, as applicants must pay a large sum of money upfront to cover the costs of their healthcare and other expenses. The current cost for a Contributory Parent visa is over $47,000 per applicant. Despite this high cost, the demand for these visas is high, resulting in lengthy processing times. As of May 2023, the estimated processing time for new Contributory Parent visa applications is at least 12 years.
The Aged Parent visa is another option for parents who want to live in Australia. This visa is available to those who meet the age requirement of 65 years or older and have a child who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident. The processing time for this visa is also lengthy, with estimates of up to 30 years for some applicants. This long wait time has made it difficult for many families to plan their future together, causing a great deal of frustration and anxiety.
The recent Australian Federal Budget for 2023-24 has allocated 8,500 places for Parent visas, consistent with the previous year’s Planning Levels. This means that unfortunately, there is little relief for parents with applications waiting in the queue. Instead, the 2023-24 permanent Migration Program places an emphasis on skilled migrants, with allocated planning levels spreading visa quota across an approximately 70:30 split between skilled and family visas. Despite the economic benefits that skilled migrants can bring to the country, it is important to acknowledge the value of family reunification and the role that parents can play in supporting their children and grandchildren in Australia.
During the 2022-23 migration program year, the Department finalised Contributory Parent visa applications lodged up to March 2017. These applicants experienced wait times of approximately 6 years.
For new Contributory Parent visa applications, the estimated processing time is approximately 12 years.
For applications lodged between 2018 and 2023, the exact wait times will vary significantly depending on your specific place in the queue, how many applications are ahead of yours in the queue, and how many individuals are seeking a visa as part of those applications (noting that migration planning levels are per person being issued a visa, not per application).
For example, publicly available information confirms that the Department has finalised applications up to March 2017. According to data available under Freedom of Information provisions, the number of Contributory Parent visa applications lodged in 2016/17 was 19,787 and in 2017/18 was 10,301 – you can view this information here.
This means that for applicants who lodged their applications in 2019, it may take another 2 program years just to finalise applications lodged in the latter stages of the 2017 fiscal year, and throughout the 2017/18 fiscal year alone.
We had hoped to see an increase in places allocated this year to make up for the reduced processing which occurred during the border closures in the 2020-2021 fiscal years due to the pandemic. However the government’s decision to hold planning levels steady will see current backlogs and delays remain at parity. We understand that these ongoing processing delays are highly frustrating, particularly in light of the Department’s lack of transparency about ongoing wait times for individual applications.
Given the significant wait times for Contributory and Aged Parent visas, it is important for families to explore other options for spending time together in Australia. Temporary Visitor visas and temporary Sponsored Parent visas are available, which can facilitate stays of 1 to 10 years, depending on individual circumstances. While these visas do not provide permanent residency, they can offer a valuable opportunity for parents to spend time with their loved ones and make lasting memories whilst waiting for their permanent visas to process.
In conclusion, the wait times for Contributory and Aged Parent visas are becoming increasingly significant, and it is important for families to explore all available options to spend time together in Australia. While there is little relief for parents in the Federal Budget for 2023-24, temporary visas offer an alternative for those who do not want to wait for years to be reunited with their children and grandchildren. It is essential to seek updated advice about interim options to spend time in Australia with your loved ones, and to remain patient and hopeful throughout the visa application process.
As individual circumstances will vary, we would encourage you to contact our office if you have any specific questions or concerns about your application or alternative options.