Q: Why do Asian people have their parents living with them?
A: So that they can spend the money they save from swearing off care homes on bingo instead.
The credit for that little joke goes to the Vietnamese-American comedian Dat Phan, but grown Asian children, especially Filipinos, may have had the exact same thought at one point. We’re simply accustomed to caring for our parents in their old age, partly out of a sense of gratitude. They DID look after us when we were feeble and helpless, so we’re usually more than willing to do the same when the tables are turned (and hey, that extra bingo money helps too, but I digress).
However, things get complicated if the adult child is based in a different country. Most migrants who settle in Australia also dream of bringing their parents over so they can care for them, but applying for a parent visa can be either highly expensive or incredibly time-consuming.
There are basically two visa categories available to the parent/s of Australian citizens or permanent residents:
1. The Parent Visa (subclass 103)
allows parents to live permanently in Australia if they are sponsored by a child who is a citizen or a permanent resident, provided that the said child is at least 18 years old and has lived lawfully in the country for at least 2 years;
entails passing a balance of family test (at least half of your children must be living legally and permanently in Australia or you must have more children doing the same there than in any other country);
also requires standard health and character checks, as well as an approved Assurance of Support and an Assurance of Support bond;
Provides holders with the right to work and study in Australia, apply for Medicare, sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residency, travel to and from Australia for five years from the date when the visa is granted, and even to apply for citizenship if one is eligible;
can have a waiting time of up to 30 years because there are limited slots for its recipients. (Australia does have to provide senior citizen benefits to its own people first, understandably.) Processing fees would also apply, of course.
2. The Contributory Parent Visa (subclass 143)
allows parents of Australian citizens or permanent residents the same rights given to holders of the parent visa;
has roughly the same requirements and can be granted in a much shorter time than the parent visa (about two years or less);
costs a great deal more as applicants contribute to their future health and wellness expenses in Australia;
can cost you over AUD47,000 per applicant because of the considerably higher visa application charges at the final stage of processing;
has two routes: going directly for the permanent contributory parent visa or applying for the temporary contributory parent visa first. The latter is good for two years, during which time the applicant can apply for the more permanent variant. The cost is roughly the same, but it would be staggered over the two separate applications rather than in one application.
Thankfully, a middle-ground alternative is currently in the pipeline under the Turnbull administration. At the moment, only 1,500 parents are able to join their migrant children in Australia under a Parent visa every year as it can take decades for slots to open up. Similarly, only 7,000 parents get to reunite with their kids through the Contributory Parent visa. When placed side by side with the 6.7 million migrants in Australia, those numbers are quite dismal.
The new visa will enable Australian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their parents to move to the country for five years rather than joining a waiting list that’s literally decades long. The government has yet to decide how much the fees for the new visa will be, but it’s due to be launched in July of next year.
While most Western countries value independence from one’s parents at a young age (as well as vice versa), Australia seems to have acknowledged the benefits of reuniting three generations of migrant families. Productivity is certainly one of them, as migrant employees can focus on their work a lot better when grandma or grandpa is the one babysitting the kids back home.