There are two visa categories for parents wishing to migrate to Australia:
- parent (non-contributory) category
- 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 parent (non-contributory) category have a significantly longer wait 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 instalment of the visa application charge (per person) and a larger assurance of support (AoS) bond with a longer AoS period.
Fact sheet – Family stream migration – Contributory Parent category visas
Parent visa processing priorities
Withdrawal of any other parent visa application
To make a valid visa application for any parent visa, the applicant must withdraw any existing parent visa application that has not yet been decided by the department. Withdrawal can be done by completing the relevant section of 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 (750KB PDF)
Form 47PT – Application for migration to Australia by a Contributory Parent (Temporary) or Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) visa holder (605KB PDF)
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 parent category visa can be lodged and 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 usually reside in Australia
- eligible New Zealand citizens who normally reside 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'. 'Settled' means a person must have been a resident in Australia for a reasonable period, which under policy is usually two years. Sponsors who have been absent from Australia for extended periods prior to lodging their sponsorship may be required to provide documentary evidence to determine whether the settled requirement is met.
For Australian citizens ‘reasonable period’ may be reduced to three months in compassionate and compelling circumstances.
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, a relative or guardian of their child, or a community organisation.
Public interest criteria
Each parent, and all dependent family members included in the application, must satisfy certain public interest requirements, including meeting the health and character requirements.
Fact sheet - The health requirement
Fact sheet - The character requirement
Capping and queuing
All non-contributory parent visas are subject to capping. Capping is the number of visas set by the minister for a class for that Migration Programme year that may be granted until that cap is reached. No further visas can be granted in that visa class in that programme year.
Queuing is an administrative mechanism that is ongoing even when a cap has been reached for a particular programme year. The queue establishes an order of precedence that can stretch many years into the future. If an applicant meets the legal requirements for the grant of the visa they are allocated a queue date, which is the date on which the last of the core visa criteria were assessed as being met.
When a visa place becomes available under the Migration Programme, applications are released for final processing in order of the queue date allocated to an applicant. To be granted a visa, the applicant must continue to meet all the core criteria of the visa and complete outstanding requirements (including health, character, Assurance of Support and payment of the second instalment of the visa application charge).
Parent processing priorities
Fact sheet – Managing the Migration Programme
Visa application charge
All applicants for a parent category visa are required to pay two instalments of the visa application charge (VAC)— first VAC and second 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 applicant included in the application. Payment of the second VAC is not required until just before the grant of a visa. The second VAC is only refunded in limited circumstances, for example, if the visa is cancelled before the visa holder arrives in Australia.
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 two years for parent (non-contributory) visas.
See: 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, parent visa applications are given a lower processing priority than other family members such as partners and children.
See: Fact sheet – Processing priorities for family stream migration