Sorry about the catchy title, but I think this thread may be of interest to Parents who are considering migrating to SA and to their children who are in or are headed for SA. I am reluctant to suggest it for any other State because SA is the only State where I know anybody who has looked in to it carefully.
My friend Mary lives in Adelaide. Her parents have recently returned from 6 months there. Apart from e-mails between myself and Mary, I have done some sleuthing of my own plus I had a long chat with Mary's Dad yesterday. He is undoubtedly clued up.
Distilling the feedback from various sources, the story is as follows.
Mary's Parents are "Aged" as per the following link:
Applications for onshore Aged Parent and Contributory Aged Parent visas at not processed at the POPC (Perth Offshore Parents Centre.) Instead they are processed at the ordinary general DIAC office in the relevant State.
Mary's Dad recently went to the DIAC office in Adelaide to enquire about Parent visas for himself and his wife. First they described the offshore Contributory Parent visa. He said he was reluctant to shell out approx £40,000 GBP. Hearing this, they advised that the couple should wait till they are ready to return to Adelaide, return there using 90-day ETA visas and then go to the DIAC office again once they arrive.
The advice Mary's Dad received was to apply for the onshore Aged Parent subclass 804 visa on their return to Adelaide.
At present, this visa takes about 15 years (sic) to be processed because only 300 are available each year and there are about 5,000 Aged Parent applicants sitting in Australia on Bridging Visas waiting for them. However, on 1st July 2008 this will be doubled to 600 a year, halving the waiting time.
Compared to the cost of a Contributory Parent or Contributory Aged Parent visa, the cost of an Aged Parent visa is trivial:
Additionally the Assurance of Support required for it only lasts for two years instead of 10, and the Bond is $7,000 for a couple instead of $14,000.
An application for an AP visa is automatically also an application for a Bridging Visa A:
Two aspects of Bridging Visas for Parents worried me initially, though not any more.
The first concern is that Form 1024i states that an applicant for a Parent visa will not be entitled to Medicare. Fed up with not knowing whether the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement between Oz and the UK would reverse the assertion in Form 1024i, I e-mailed both Medicare and DIAC about this last week.
Both of them have confirmed to me that as a matter of Policy, a British Parent is indeed covered by the UK/Oz RHCA whilst on a Bridging Visa to the same extent as if s/he were on a tourist visa instead. The RHCA is available regardless of one's age:
Unless a doctor decides that the propsed treatment is "necessary" Medicare will not pay for any of it. Ambulance insurance is required whatever happens.
My other concern is that a Bridging Visa A does not entitle the Parent to return to Oz if s/he goes abroad for any reason. For that, a Bridging Visa B is needed instead and it must be obtained before the Parent leaves Oz. According to Form 1024i, "substantial reasons" are needed before a Bridging Visa B would be forthcoming.
According to me, a desire for a family holiday offshore is not a substantial reason, but according to DIAC in Adelaide it is. They say their Policy is that it is not the Aged Parent's fault that AP visas take some years to process. Therefore they are happy to grant a Bridging Visa B and say that this will enable the Parent to spend up to 90 days a year outside Australia if wished. They are not interested in why the Parent might wish to spend time outside Oz. They merely stress that the period outside Oz must not exceed 90 days a year.
As luck would have it, Mary's family happened to meet another British couple recently who are in their early 70s. The other couple have applied for Aged Parent visas and are living in Adelaide on Bridging Visas. (Until they were encountered, I was urging caution unless and until somebody could be found locally who is actually in this very situation. I tried to find someone via a thread on here a couple of months ago but drew a blank.)
The other couple have decided on private medical insurance for themselves so they are not bothered about the Medicare cover available to them.
The other couple have property in South Africa and a child in the UK. Every year, they spend 90 days outside Australia. They go to South Africa, then come to the UK to visit their other child, then back to Adelaide. It suits them to be outside Oz for the three months of winter in Oz so this is what they do.
Mary's Dad is thorough. Hearing all this from the other couple, he went back to DIAC in Adelaide to ask why anybody would pay for a CPV if DIAC are as liberal as described above? He was told that the reason why Parents are willing to pay for CPVs is because they want fast processing and certainty. Some Parents consider that these considerations are worth £40K GBP. Other Parents consider that hanging on to their capital is a more compelling idea!
Aged Parent visas involve 2 sets of Meds and Police checks. The first set are done within about a year of the visa application being made. The second set are required some years later when the Parent reaches the head of the Queue.
Asked what would happen if Mary's Dad or his wife should fail the second meds, DIAC assured him that there would be no question of them being kicked out of Australia.
Which is true. If one of the Parents fails the second meds, the drill is to Appeal to the Migration Review Tribunal and insist that the Review Medical Officer re-assesses the meds from scratch. New or additional medical info can be supplied to the RMOC and it will be considered. THe reported MRT cases reveal that the RMOC disagrees with the original MOC surprisingly often.
If the RMOC advises that the medical criteria for migration are met, the MRT must remit the application back to DIAC with an Order that the medical criteria are met. In practice there will be no other issues because the 2nd meds will not be requested if anything else about the application is faulty.
If the RMOC agrees with the opinion of the original MOC then the MRT must affirm DIAC's original visa refusal and dismiss the appeal. Currently the fixed fee to apply to the MRT is $1400 and approx another $600 to involve the RMOC. If the appeal is successful, the money is refunded. If the appeal is unsuccessful, $2000 is the maximum spent assuming that the family tackle the appeal without professional help - which they can do if they try.
If the MRT upholds the visa refusal, then as the legislation stands at the moment the next step is a direct appeal to the Minister for Immi under S351 of the Migration Act 1958. . The Minister can substitute his own decision for that of the MRT if he in his sole discretion considers that it is in the publc interest to do so.
The argument is that it is in the interests of the migrant child and grandchildren to permit the Aged Parents to remain with the rest of the family in Oz. Anything else would cause grave hardship to the migrant child, grandchildren etc It is not in the public interest to attract a skilled migrant so that s/he can strengthen the Australian economy (plus boost the Treasury's coffers) but then treat him/her differently from a native-born Aussie whose own Parents are in Oz as of right. Etc etc etc.
The results of Ministerial Appeals are not published, but if a Parent is elderly and infirm Australia is very unlikely to try to send him/her back to the UK. By then, s/he has been in Oz for so long that s/he has no real ties left in the UK, plus see above etc etc.
An Appeal to the MRT can easily take 2 years to be concluded. Ministerial Appeals are equally slow. The Bridging Visa enables the Parent to remain in Australia throughout the Appeals process.
If s/he was too sick to pass the meds 4 years ago, the chances are that s/he will be much worse (or dead) by the time a Ministerial Appeal fails. If the Parent is too ill to travel, no airline or shipping company will agree to carry him/her out of Oz.
Kismet. A Bridging Visa P (the medical one) will have to be granted to both Parents because the fit one must be on hand to look after the sick one. Hence Mary's Dad was assured that, one way or another, they would not be kicked out of Australia.
Entering Oz on a 90-day ETA with this scheme in mind is, technically, spoodly. A 90-day ETA cannot be granted unless the applicant evinces an intention to enter Australia for the purpose of short-stay tourism only. However, the onus is on DIAC to police the borders. It is not realistic for them to give every person travelling through Adelaide Airport a hard time and in practice they don't. Unless they grill the arriving passenger, they have no means of proving intent and they know this so they do not try to take a point that they coud not win in Court. The Parent goes to Oz intending nothing but a short visit. Whilst there, he wanders along to the DIAC office to make enquiries. They tell him that he is eligible for an Aged Parent visa as it happens....
Food for thought, maybe?
I think that if anybody wants to investigate this further, you should double-check everything I say. This can be done by visiting the DIAC office in Adelaide and I would strongly recommend doing so in person: