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There are two visa categories for parents wishing to migrate to Australia:
- the parent category
- the contributory parent category.
To apply for any parent or contributory parent visa, you must be the parent of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen, who is ‘settled’ at the time the application is lodged. You must also satisfy the balance of family test.
The core requirements for both the parent category and the contributory parent category are similar. However there are key differences. These are:
- applicants in the contributory parent category have significantly shorter waiting periods for applications to be finalised
- visa applications in the contributory parent category are accorded a higher priority for processing
- applicants for a contributory parent visa pay a substantially higher second visa application charge (per person) and a larger assurance of support (AoS) bond (with a longer AoS period).
Fact Sheet 31 – Family Stream Migration: Parent (Non-Contributory) Visas
Parent Visa Processing Priorities
Contributory parent category visas
The contributory parent category comprises:
- For elderly applicants applying in Australia:
- Contributory Aged Parent (Migrant) (subclass 864) visa
- Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) (subclass 884) visa.
- For other applicants outside of Australia and in Australia if their visa allows them to lodge another application:
- Contributory Parent (Migrant) (subclass 143) visa
- Contributory Parent (Temporary) (subclass 173) visa.
Permanent and temporary contributory parent visas
A parent can apply for either a permanent or a temporary contributory parent visa. The temporary visa is valid for two years and provides access to Medicare and full work rights. A temporary contributory parent visa cannot be extended or renewed.
A temporary contributory parent visa holder can then apply for the corresponding permanent contributory parent visa in Australia or overseas at any time during the two year validity of their temporary visa.
Holders of a temporary contributory parent visa who apply for the corresponding permanent visa during the two years obtain certain concessions, such as:
- completing a shorter application form, Form 47PT Application for migration to Australia by a Contributory Parent (Temporary) or a Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) visa holder
See: Form 47PT
- paying a substantially reduced first visa application charge on lodgement of the permanent visa application
- not being re-assessed against the balance of family test
- generally not being required to undergo further health checks.
If a person does not apply for the permanent visa before the expiry of their temporary contributory parent visa, they do not get the benefit of these concessions.
A person who is the holder, or has been the holder of, a temporary contributory parent visa since last entering Australia can make a valid application for only a very limited range of visas:
- the corresponding permanent contributory parent category visa
- a medical treatment visa
- a protection visa.
The primary applicant must satisfy the aged requirement for both Contributory Aged Parent (Residence) (subclass 864) visa or Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) (subclass 884) visa applications. An 'aged' parent is one who is old enough to be granted the Australian aged pension.
See: Booklet 3 – Parent Migration
Lodging contributory parent visa applications
Contributory aged parent visa applicants must be in Australia to lodge their application and for a visa grant.
Contributory Parent (Temporary) (subclass 173) visa applicants must lodge their applications outside of Australia and must be outside of Australia for a visa grant. If granted a visa, Contributory Parent (Temporary) visa holders can lodge a permanent Contributory Parent (subclass 143) visa application either in or outside of Australia. They can be in or outside Australia for visa grant.
All other applicants for a Contributory Parent (Migrant) (subclass 143) visa must lodge their application outside of Australia and be outside of Australia for visa grant. They are not eligible to obtain a bridging visa to remain lawfully in Australia while their Contributory Parent (Migrant) (subclass 143) visa is being processed.
Applicants are not able to lodge an application while they are in Australia if they are barred from doing so. Applicants may be barred if they have a condition 8503 'No Further Stay' on their current visa, or if they do not hold a substantive visa and have been refused the grant of a visa since last entering Australia.
Withdrawal of any other parent visa application
To make a valid visa application for any parent visa, the applicant must withdraw any existing parent application that has not yet been decided by the department. Withdrawal can be done by completing the relevant section of the Form 47PA application for migration to Australia by a parent or Form 47PT application for migration to Australia by a Contributory Parent (Temporary) or Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) visa holder.
Form 47PA – Application for a parent to migrate to Australia (712KB PDF file)
Form 47PT – Application for migration to Australia by a Contributory Parent (Temporary) or Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) visa holder (394KB PDF file)
Similarly, an applicant must withdraw, or have finalised, any application for review (at either a review or tribunal or court) of a refusal decision in relation to any other parent visa application before a contributory parent category visa can be granted.
Balance of family test
The balance of family test requires that at least half of your children live permanently in Australia, or that more of your children live permanently in Australia than in any other country.
In order to count as living permanently in Australia, your children must be:
- Australian citizens
- Australian permanent residents who are usually resident in Australia
- eligible New Zealand citizens who are normally resident in Australia.
See: Family Definitions
The test is designed as an objective measure of a parent's ties to Australia. No assessment is made about the nature of the parent and child relationship.
See: Balance of Family Test
All applicants for parent migration must be sponsored. At the time the visa application is made, the sponsor must be a 'settled' Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen who is settled. 'Settled' means a person must have been a resident in Australia for a reasonable period, which under policy is usually two years.
If the child of the parent is 18 years or older, then the parent can be sponsored by that child or by that child's cohabiting partner.
If the child has not turned 18, applicants may be sponsored by the cohabiting partner of their child if the partner has turned 18 years of age, a relative or guardian of their child, or a community organisation.
Public interest criteria
Each parent and all dependent family members included in an application, must satisfy certain public interest requirements. This includes meeting the health and character requirements.
Fact Sheet 22 – The Health Requirement
Fact Sheet 79 – The Character Requirement
Capping and queuing
All contributory and non-contributory parent visas are subject to capping. Capping is the number of visas set by the minister for a class for that program year has been reached, no further visas can be granted in that class in that program year. All parent visas are subject to capping.
Parent Processing Priorities
Fact Sheet 21 – Managing the Migration Program
Visa application charge
All applicants for a parent category visa are required to pay a first and second visa application charge (VAC).
A first VAC must be paid per applicant and must be paid at the time the applicants lodge their application. The first VAC is a processing fee and is not refunded if the application is unsuccessful.
A second VAC is required for each individual applicant included in the application. Payment of the second VAC is not required until just before the grant of a visa.
Note: Processing times for contributory parent category visas can vary so it is important that applicants ensure they have available funds for the second VAC at all times in the application process as payment may be required at an earlier date than was originally anticipated at the time of visa lodgement.
The second VAC for the contributory parent category is considerably higher than for the parent category and is a contribution towards the applicant's health and welfare costs in Australia.
The second VAC is only refunded in limited circumstances. For example, if the visa is cancelled before the visa holder arrives in Australia.
VACs from temporary to permanent
Applicants for a visa in the contributory parent category are able to apply directly for a permanent visa or choose to initially apply for a temporary contributory parent category visa. If granted a temporary visa, they would then apply for the corresponding permanent contributory parent category visa.
The net costs of both options are similar, however the benefit of the two staged process is that the total cost of migration can be distributed over two or three years.
The applicant will pay a first and second visa application charge for both the temporary and permanent contributory parent category visa application.
The first and second VAC payable for the permanent contributory parent category visa is based on the charges in place at the time that the application for the permanent visa is lodged.
For further information on fees and charges, refer to the department's website. Please note that most VACs will usually be subject to annual adjustment.
See: Fees and Charges
Assurance of Support (AoS)
All permanent parent and contributory parent visa applicants must provide an AoS before a visa can be granted and this requirement cannot be waived in any circumstances.
An AoS is a legal commitment by a person (not necessarily the sponsor) who repays the Australian Government welfare payments paid to a person applying to migrate during their AoS period. The period of an AoS is 10 years for the contributory parent category visas.
All permanent parent visas are subject to a required (mandatory) AoS.
See: Fact Sheet 34 – Assurance of Support
The minister has issued a direction for migration officers giving guidance on the order of priority for processing family stream applications.
In the family stream, all parent visa applications are given a lower processing priority than other family members such as partners and children.
In the parent visa categories, the contributory parent category has a higher processing priority than the parent category.
See: Fact Sheet 37 – Processing Priorities for Family Stream Migration
Further information and definitions
Applicants for a visa in the contributory parent category should obtain the department's information Booklet 3 – Parent Migration (Form 1129), which can be downloaded from the department's website.
See: Booklet 3 – Parent Migration
Detailed information on all aspects of applying for a contributory parent visa is also available on the department's website.
Parent Visa Options
Further information is available on the department's website.
The department also operates a national general enquiries line.
Telephone: 131 881
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. Recorded information is available outside these hours.
Fact Sheet 39. Produced by the National Communications Branch, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Canberra.
Last reviewed July 2013.