May 23, 2024

Your Guide to Understanding Parent Visa Australia

parent visa australia


Australia’s Parent Visa program serves the dual purpose of facilitating family reunification while also contributing to the nation’s economic and social fabric. Understanding the technical nuances and strategic implications of this program is important for potential applicants, and crucial for their immigration advisors to understand.

Visa Categories:

There are a number of ways to group the visas available in Australia’s parent visa program. These include onshore v offshore (where the applicants must be when they apply), contributory v non-contributory (if a financial contribution is required), aged parent v younger parent, as well as temporary v permanent. We have set these out in subject matter order for ease of understanding.

  • Parent Visa (Subclass 103, 143 and 173): These are the most popular parent visas and differ in processing times and financial requirements. Subclass 103 is queue-based, resulting in long waiting periods, whereas subclass 143 is capped but requires a substantial financial contribution, leading to ‘expedited’ processing. Both confer Australian Permanent Residence status on visa grant. The subclass 173 is a 2-year temporary visa which allows applicant(s) to amortise the cost of the second (subclass 143 visa) stage, by introducing a two-step process.
  • Aged Parent Visa (Subclass 804, 864, 884): Similar to the ‘Parent’ visa categorises above, but these two subclasses are specifically designed for parents over the indexed retirement age in Australia. The Subclass 804 is the ‘Non-Contributory version’ taking substantially longer to process than the Contributory Aged Parent visa subclass 864 requiring the substantial financial contribution. The subclass 884 is a 2-year temporary visa which allows applicant(s) to amortise the cost of the second (subclass 864 visa) stage, by introducing a two-step process. The strategic advantage of the   Aged Parent visa category is that onshore applicants are able to secure a Bridging visa for the duration of processing.
  • Sponsored Parent (Temporary) Visa (Subclass 870): This visa allows parents to stay in Australia temporarily for up to 5 years at a time, with a maximum of 10 years in total. It provides flexibility for parents who may not meet the requirements for or have a need for permanent visas. A word of warning: If you have applied for, or hold a subclass 870 visa, you are prevented from submitting an application in other Parent visa categories.
  • Balance of Family Test: The general requirement across the subclasses requires at least half of the applicants’ children to be settled residents in Australia. This emphasises the importance of family ties in Australia, and aims to ensure that parents have a strong support network in the country and are less likely to rely on social services.
  • Health and Character Requirements: These criteria reflect Australia’s stringent standards for immigration, focusing on public health and safety considerations.
  • Financial Capacity: The Contributory subclasses serve to ensure that sponsored parents can financially support themselves and not burden the Australian taxpayer.
  • Assurance of Support (AoS): For some categories, the sponsor must provide an AoS to financially support the parent(s) for a defined period, typically 10 years. This also serves to mitigate potential social welfare costs.

Government’s Policy Perspective:

  • Economic Impact: The Parent Visa program has a significant socio-economic impact. In many (often indirect) ways Subclass 143 visa holders make substantial contributions to the Australian economy, while all parent visa holders contribute through consumption, taxes, and sometimes directly through employment if they choose to work.
  • Social Cohesion: Family reunification is a core value in Australian society. The Parent Visa program reinforces this value by allowing families to live together, enhancing social connections and cultural diversity.
  • Policy Debate: The Parent Visa program is often a subject of debate, with discussions focusing on balancing family reunification goals with concerns about potential strain on social services and infrastructure, especially in the context of limited Aged Care services.
  • Queue Management: The long processing times for these visas pose a challenge and have been highly controversial. Policymakers say they are exploring more equitable ways to manage the queue and potentially streamline the process without compromising the integrity of the program. However, it comes as a surprise to most people to learn that a parent may be waiting between 12 and 30 years for their permanent visa to be finalised.

Key Strategies for Applicants:

  • Objectives: Seek the advice of a competent immigration adviser to discuss the overall objectives, timing considerations, and financial implications. Is permanent residence necessary? Are work rights important?  Is a bridging visa an option whilst waiting in Australia? Will the applicants need Medicare coverage sooner than later?
  • Professional Guidance: A competent immigration advisor in Australia means an immigration lawyer or registered migration agent experienced in these visa categories who can help you navigate the intricacies of the visa system and maximise the chances of success.
  • Early Preparation: With the benefit of strategic migration planning, begin gathering the necessary documents well in advance to avoid delays in the application process.
  • Financial Planning: If considering the contributory visa categories, ensure you have the financial resources or financial planning to meet the contribution requirement.
  • Realistic Expectations: Understand that the non-contributory parent visas may involve a significant waiting period.


The Australian Parent Visa program is clearly a complex yet vital pathway for family reunification. Understanding the technical aspects and strategic implications can enable potential applicants to make informed decisions and navigate the process more effectively than applicants who go into the process on a ‘wing and a prayer’.

Contact us now. Our migration professionals are standing by to help you plan for parent visa in Australia. 


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