A new temporary sponsored parent visa is to be introduced in Australia in the first half of next year which the Immigration Minister said will provide new pathways for families to be reunited.

The legislation tied to the new visa has now been passed through Parliament and paves the way for the visa that will allow parents to visit their families in Australia for a continuous period of up to five years.

Parent Visas

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'This new visa will help families reunite and spend time together. 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,' said Immigration Minister David Coleman.

He pointed out that there will be no extra costs to taxpayers as measures have been put in place to strengthen the visa framework requiring Australian sponsors to act as a financial guarantor for any outstanding public health costs incurred by the visa holder whilst in Australia.

'This new visa will ensure family reunions are possible for many migrant families across Australia, while protecting taxpayers with strict guidelines to ensure all public health debts including hospital and aged care fees are recovered by the Australian Government,' he explained.

But the fees involved are likely to be high. Figures that have been mentioned include $5,000 for a three-year visa and $10,000 for a five-year visa with renewals also costing thousands of dollars.

Concerns have been voiced about the costs with migration agents saying that few families would be able to afford the new visa and the mandatory health insurance costs will add to the financial burden.

It is expected that the new sponsorship framework will involve a two-step application process where the sponsor is assessed first and only then can the visa application be lodged.