The requirements for visas in the parent category are as follows:
- The applicant must be a parent of a child who is an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen;
- The applicant’s child must be settled in Australia (in most cases, lawfully and permanently resident for at least 2 years) and must sponsor the applicant;
- The applicant must meet health and character requirements
- The applicant must pass the balance of family test;
- An Assurance of Support and an Assurance of Support bond (held for 2 years) must be provided. Lodgement of this bond is not required until just before grant of a visa.
The 'balance of family' test means the parent must have:
- at least half of their children living lawfully and permanently in Australia, or
- more children living lawfully and permanently in Australia than in any other single country overseas.
Children of both parents are counted in the test, including any children from previous relationships or de facto relationships of either parent. This includes natural, adopted and step children. This is regardless of whether they are dependent, self-supporting, married, single or divorced.
Children whose whereabouts are unknown or cannot be verified are counted as being in their parents’ country of usual residence.
There is a strict quota of 1,000 Parent Visas that can be issued each year, which means that there are long queues and long processing times in this category. By contrast, there are currently 3,500 places in the Contributory Parent category, which allows for quicker processing and shorter waiting periods. While they are assessed against the same requirements as all other Parent Visa applicants, applicants for visas in the Contributory Parent category pay a significantly higher second visa application charge as a contribution to their ongoing health costs.