I get this asked a lot so I thought it's probably worth it to talk about options a bit more detailed.
Many people, who migrated to Australia on a skilled or a partner visa will get - at some point - confronted with the fact that their parents aren't getting any younger either. Especially if there are no other siblings close by, the thought of having a mum or dad at the other end of the world is for many families very distressing. 'Jetting home' every so often isn't terribly practicable, so the next logical solution is often to bring your parents to Australia permanently.
To get the bad news out of the way: While many migrants try to bring their parents, there are only very limited numbers available for parental family reunion each year. Yes, there is a queue.
There are basically two parent visa classes enabling migrants to bring their parents. (plus a bit of wiggle room).
Some of the requirements are the same for all parent visas:
- Parent visa classes require the parent(s) to meet a balance of family test. To pass the test your parents need to have either equal or more children in Australia than in any country overseas. So in the case of a parent with 2 children: One in Australia and one in their home country is OK. A parent with three children: one in Australia and two in their home country is not OK. A parent with three children: one in Australia, one in their home country and one in a third country, is also not OK.
- Another requirement parent visas share is that the sponsor (the child) has to be a settled permanent resident or Australian citizen. They also need to be usually residents in Australia and have done so for the past two years.
- Parent visas also require an Assurer of Support (AoS). The AoS may, but doesn't have to be the same person as the Sponsor. An AoS must meet certain criteria in terms of citizenship and income. Not DIBP, but Centrelink is the agency deciding whether an AoS is suitable or not. With the AoS also comes a bond payment. For parent visas, this is A$ 10,000 per person and will be refunded after 10 years.
S/c 103 - Parent Visa (offshore only):
That's the visa with the queue. All cases assessed go into the queue and visas are issued on a 'first come first served' basis. The problem is that there are many, many more applicants than places. So the queue has grown into an approximate 30 years + wait. For most people this isn't a realistic option.
It is mostly interesting for people who are happy to have their parents visiting for more than 3 months at a time. Parents in the queue have access to 3 year visitor visas, permitting the holder to stay in Australia 12 months at a time.
S/c 143 or 173 - Contributory Parent Visa (offshore)
To help the growing problem with above mentioned queue, Immigration introduced this 'fast track' (now it's all relative is it...) visa option for parents who can make a significant financial contribution to the Australian community. The idea behind it is that parents joining their children in Australia - usually - will be close to or have reached retirement age. So they won't be paying taxes and have never really contributed to the Australian society, yet they are eligible for some services.
So your parents can bypass the queue by paying a large lump sum to the Australian government. This sum gets adjusted regularly, at the moment it is roughly about A$ 50,000 per person (plus the above mentioned AoS payment). In exchange your parents get a visa within a reasonable time (about 2 years).
Above listed options are offshore only. Onshore options only exist for 'aged' parents. By 'onshore option' I mean a visa your parents can apply for while being in Australia (e.g. on a visitor visa) and that triggers the grant of a Bridgingvisa, permitting the holder to stay in Australia while waiting for the decision.
S/c 864 – Contributory Aged Parent Visa
Same as above. The only difference is that the applicant needs to be at retirement age as defined in Australia and they need to be in Australia on a visa that allows them to lodge another application onshore.
All other requirements (balance of family test, AoS and cost) are the same.
S/c 804 – Aged Parent Visa
Again, this is the visa with the same queue as mentioned above (30 years +), but this version is an onshore application. i.e. applicants will get a Bridgingvisa and can stay in Australia on that Bridgingvisa while they wait for a decision on the parent visa.
Applicant's need to have reached retirement age at the time they lodge and meet all other criteria.
Realistically for many applicants this means spending the rest of their lives on a Bridgingvisa. There are a few disadvantages of being such a long time on a Bridgingvisa. There are some limitations on overseas travel and Bridgingvisa holders cannot buy property. But they will be eligible for Medicare if their country has a reciprocal agreement with Medicare (e.g. UK, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Italy (limited), Malta (limited), Slovenia, Norway) and have access to additional private health funds.
Not everyone will be happy with this option and feel as if they're not on a 'proper' visa and they're right. A Bridgingvisa is not a substantive visa but only a permission to stay 'until...'. However, for many of us not who don't have A$ 100,000 lying around, it is the only realistic option to bring your parents to Australia within a reasonable time.