Migrants cry foul at “unfair” elderly parent visas

By Leith van Onselen

Starting this month, the federal government will issue up to 15,000 sponsored parental visas to migrants who wish to bring their elderly parents to live in Australia for a continuous period of three, five or 10 years.

However, members of the Indian community have attacked these visas, labelling “unfair” the need for private health insurance, the minimum family income threshold of $83,454.80, and the application fee of $5000 for a three-year visa, $10,000 for a five-year visa and $20,000 for a ten-year visa. From SBS Hindi:

“This visa is discriminatory,” says Jasvinder Sidhu, a Melbourne-based community leader.

“Many migrants won’t be able to afford the high fees of this visa. The conditions are already harsher in this visa as compare to normal visitor visa. One has to have health insurance for this visa. It is an actively discriminatory visa against migrants,” says Mr Sidhu.

A long-term visa designed to reunite families is a long-standing demand of some migrant communities in Australia. Mr Arvind Duggal of Adelaide has been running a campaign to support this demand. He says the new conditions make this visa unaffordable for many migrants.

“Why visitor visa should have an income test?,” asks Mr Duggal.

“This visa does not help the migrant communities waiting for a visa to bring their parents to the country. This visa has an unfair fee structure. There is an unnecessary income test”…

Mr Duggal says many migrants will not be able to pass the income test… “The government had promised a fair visa. It is not that visa,” Mr Duggal told SBS Hindi adding the fight for a fair parents visa will continue.

This visa is “unfair” alright – unfair to Australian taxpayers.

The Productivity Commission’s (PC) 2016 Migrant Intake into Australia Report estimated that parental visas cost Australian taxpayers between $2.6 and $3.2 billion in present value terms, with the cost likely to rise over time as numbers increase. The PC also concluded that “the case for retaining parent visas in their current form is weak”:

“The contributory visa charge of just under $50 000 meets only a fraction of the fiscal costs for the annual intake of roughly 7200 contributory parents. And an additional 1500 parents make a minimal contribution. Overall, the cumulated lifetime fiscal costs (in net present value terms) of a parent visa holder in 2015-16 is estimated to be between $335 000 and $410 000 per adult, which ultimately must be met by the Australian community. On this basis, the net liability to the Australian community of providing assistance to these 8700 parents over their lifetime ranges between $2.6 and $3.2 billion in present value terms. Given that there is a new inflow each year, the accumulated taxpayer liabilities become very large over time. This is a high cost for a relatively small group.

Ultimately, every dollar spent on one social program must require either additional taxes or forgone government expenditure in other areas. It seems unlikely that parent visas meet the usual standards of proven need, in contrast to areas such as mental health, homelessness or, in the context of immigration, the support of immigrants through the humanitarian stream, and foreign aid.

Given the balance of the costs and benefits, the case for retaining parent visas in their current form is weak”.

The PC’s subsequent Shifting the Dial: 5 year productivity review also doubled-down against parental visas, claiming that their long-term costs to the Budget are immense:

… parent visas, which provide a short-term benefit to the budget via visa charge income, but impose very large costs in the longer term through their impacts on expenditure on health and aged care, and social transfers. In previous work, the Commission estimated the budgetary costs associated with the 2015-16 parent visa intake alone to be $2.88 billion in present value terms over the lifetimes of the visa holders. By comparison, the revenue collected from these visa holders was only $345 million. Ten year estimates of the fiscal effects of the current parent visas would show a similarly stark disjuncture between revenue and costs, and would therefore provide the insights for a more informed policy decision on the pricing or desirability of these visa types than the current decision-making framework.

These new parental visas are unambiguously poor policy and a very bad deal for incumbent Australian taxpayers. This is because the additional elderly migrants will add pressure to already strained economic and social infrastructure and will not work, pay taxes, or contribute in a meaningful way to the economy.

Existing residents will be required to foot the bill for the additional government investment on hospitals and infrastructure required to keep up with the expected influx.

Moreover, because these migrants will be elderly, and likely be heavy users of health services, they will place upward pressure on private health insurance premiums for everyone else. They would also place greater pressure on health care professionals – both private and public – whose training is paid for, to a large extent, by the taxpayer.

Stupidly, our federal politicians have gone against the PC’s recommendations and chosen to increase the quantity of elderly migrants flowing into Australia, thus adding to strains on infrastructure, housing, the Budget, as well as exacerbating the ageing of the population.

Given the huge taxpayer cost of parental visas, and that these funds could be better spent elsewhere for the benefit of the incumbent population (e.g. raising Newstart), there is a strong case for abolishing parental visas altogether, rather than expanding them as the federal government has done.

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Unconventional Economist
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    • Too late … I couldn’t pry my eyes from the screen.

      One error though:

      Existing residents will be required to foot the bill for the additional federal government investment in hospitals and infrastructure required to keep up with the expected influx.

      There will be no additional expenditure, the quality of service will just decline for everyone. The Government has the luxury of not spending an extra cent on anything, especially health. All that will happen is the not so unwell locals will be pushed further down the surgery waiting lists and ED queues or off the full up trains, buses and ferries and told to ‘wait for the next one’.

      The visa fees will be spent on such necessities as conferences, travel, food and liquor for Immigration Department SES types in Canberra.

  1. On my recent domestic travels spoke with 3 Indian taxi drivers (rare I know).
    1. Studied engineering in NZ, moved here 6 months ago to Melbourne
    2. Moved to Sydney, studied, worked for Telstra, but with the NBN less work available. Apparently NBN sub-contractors are unfairly paid, and some instances not paid on time, and difficult to deal with
    3. Regional work in Adelaide as part of Visa, straight to Sydney once that was ticked off

    It’s what we already know, but same story, come here to study, pass the weak tests, drive a taxi, flood the country with unproductive labour

    • I take a lot of taxis and if the driver is Indian, they are an accountant who can’t get a job in their field and is only here because of their visa. If they are Lebanese or Egyptian they are engineering students and here for the same reasons.

      The remainder are old white guys.

      The students all intend to move to Melbourne or Sydney as soon as possible

  2. Yeah they won’t like the requirement for private health insurance. They are objecting to this becaase they know health insurance is expensive – because pay outs are substantial. One issue is there is no risk rating for private health insurance. So pre-existing medical conditions do not impose a premium (which is different to life insurance or travel insurance). So all these people with diabetes and coronary disease and peripheral vascular disease will take out private health insurance and will then make very large claims on these insurers. Better than on Medicare I guess, but will put insurers under pressure.

    I see they require a minimum family income of $83,454. Is that total income? Cash income? Declared taxable income?

    • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

      If the Govt can force young Australians to take out private health insurance in order to obtain the Medicare discount, then these phucking elderly migrants can take out private health insurance in order to obtain a visa. No ifs or buts.

      If the health insurance costs $20k per year, then that is more likely to be a fairer estimate of their actual cost to Australians than the piddling $2k/yr spread out over 10yrs

      • I am disappointed in you Stewie. After your post yesterday i expected you to go harder. Lift your game.

  3. I see many patients with full Medicare cards who can’t speak a word of the lo local language
    Also priv health insurance is a joke….it bumps up premiums for all.

    Also lots of so called skilled migrants have spouses employed in menial labour with the 2-3 kids at home…cost benefit would be negative

  4. I don’t get these visas at all. Parents should be given visitor visa for any period 3, 5 or 10 years with the same rights as tourists or holidaymakers and that’s all – no need for special categories, special fees, special requirements, …

      • not 10 years holidays but ability to come at anytime over that period and stay more thann 90 days.
        It’s very common in US and EU to get 5 or 10 year visa that lets you in and doesn’t entitle you to anything – all costs including health care is your own responsibility

  5. The whole purpose of a visa is to discriminate about who can enter a country and what they are permitted to do when they are in that country.
    I am unsure what Mr Sidhu’s point is regarding a discriminatory visa.

    • Visa’s are a selection process not a discriminative one.

      It’s supposed to fill any skills shortages Australia has and we already have plenty of non-working old people thanks to the baby boomer population bulge.

    • “I am unsure what Mr Sidhu’s point is regarding a discriminatory visa.”

      Mr Sidhu say’s it’s ‘discriminatory’, because only Third World immigrants exploit the family reunion options available in the Australian immigration program. It’ s a major contributor to why the permanent and temporary immigration program is chock full of Third World places.

  6. kiwikarynMEMBER

    In NZ the elderly parents come in on residency visas, and qualify for free healthcare and pensions after 10 years. Its a joke. National at least put the parent visa on hold, but now the migrants are whining about how unfair it is they have to have their parents here on visitor visas. Apparently we are all supposed to be grateful to their migrants for their contributions, and the fact their parents raised them, so NZ taxpayers should have to fund their retirement as well.
    “New Zealand didn’t spend a cent on my education, my parents did. They invested in me, which means they invested in New Zealand and now New Zealand says they can’t come here,” Christian said. He believed immigrants were often treated as outsiders in New Zealanders without acknowledging just how much they do for the country. “My job is designing emergency communications systems for the fire service and coast guards. I am helping to save lives of the people of New Zealand but I feel like my family is treated like intruders.”

  7. John Howards Bowling Coach

    Just ignore all the protests from people who are moving to Australia to take advantage of our overly generous nature. I know a migration consultant very well who specialises in the investment migration visa class with mostly Chinese clients. They tell me the first request from these people who are all multimillionaires is how they can get welfare payments from Australia. They also largely move to areas to live where they can get their kids into the best government schools. They are leaches and they are bleeding us dry. The only response to the existing cohort is no access to welfare or public schooling for non citizens and a waiting period and tax receipt register for those who are now citizens. A new class of full private health fund must be created with no medicare support to ensure they pay 100% of their costs and that applies to 100% of non citizens without exception including those on humanitarian visas or that area would be flooded with new applicants. The SJWs can go shuffle off to somewhere that will increase their taxes to fund their dreamy ideas.

  8. Leith

    The article conflates the parent visitor visas with the contributory parent visas – which are permanent residence visas.

    It is well understood that the $50K odd contribution made by the contributory parent PR visas is a bargain for the visa applicants and their children (even a broken hip can easily rack up $150K in medical costs), but the visitor visas are different.

    The new visitor visas require higher application charges but no contribution charge because the visa holders are required to hold health insurance (not Medicare) which should cover the costs of any health care.

    There are therefore 2 main risks to the Australian community;
    1. Access to health facilities where privately insured visitor visa holders could fill vital beds / facilities ICU, CCU, and so on, and

    2. The risk that the visitor visa could become too ill or too frail to travel, in which case the visitor visa holder would have to remain in Australia indefinitely.

    The second risk is covered, in part, by the requirement that the sponsor has fairly high income and a legal framework to hold them liable for costs to the Australia community.

    • It doesn’t conflate anything. The costs of both schemes are immense, only the PR visa scheme is worse. Both schemes should be unwound in their entirety. The extra burden on economic and social infrastructure far outweighs the small fees on offer, diverting scarce funding away from other worthwhile initiatives (e.g. raising Newstart).

  9. Of all the things we could import, why would it be old half dead people.

    We already have too many of them here #boomers.

  10. So, “skilled” immigrants have a household income of less than $84k?

    What a joke. Maybe there should be an exemption for those who came here on a refugee visa but the “skilled” immigrants should have to have an income of $84k like they do in Dubai:

    Do you want your parents to live with you in Dubai? Here’s what you need to do

    holding valid resident visas having a minimum salary of Dh20,000 or a monthly pay of Dh19,000 plus a two-bedroom accommodation can get one-year renewable resident visas for their parents or parents-in-law.


    20,000 AED x 11 = A$84k. And Dubai never gives an Emirati passport to low-wage foreigners.

    Can I secure life-long residency in the UAE if I buy a property?

    It is not possible for any non-GCC national to get lifelong residency in the UAE, even if they purchase property. While it can be possible for an expat to obtain a residency visa based on property ownership, the rules are very strict and the visas are valid for either six months or two years only.


  11. Why do they think the country has an obligation to assist them to be near/with family? Where does this risible idea come from?

    • Yeah ….. I love the Sub Continental culture. Caste system and all. Although, some of their women are rather easy on the eye. And there is yoga, meditation and cricket. But otherwise …. no. Stewart Griffin summed it very eloquently yesterday. To paraphrase … multiculturalism is rather overrated.

    • kiwikarynMEMBER

      In NZ, it has come directly from the Labour Government. I have long pointed out that countries are now being governed for the benefit of people who do not live there, rather than for its own citizens.
      “In the new residency policy objectives advisory listed the reunification of families of New Zealand residents as one of the priorities for the Government.”

    • Because there are a bunch of bleeding hearts out there who’ll give them the time of day.

  12. Mining BoganMEMBER

    Hey, I have an idea! Maybe, just maybe, it might be cheaper to leave the oldies where they are and go visit occasionally. Flights are cheap and seeing as all of our immigrants are highly skilled they must be able to afford it. It’s a win for everyone.

    • Exactly, I don’t see why we have an obligation to drag the extended family over here. If that’s important to them, well they migrated here for the wrong reason.

    • Good idea MBogan. We could extrapolate that even further. How about on top of free air fares we open a few Aussie hospitals over there to service the parents of their departed children. Probably cheaper in the long run.

    • Trout à la Crème

      Perhaps it would build greater welf if we simply imported an Indian city and situated it on Australian land and rented it out to claim advantageous negative gearing tax treatment.

  13. I don’t think there is another migrant cohort who demand we give them special treatment quite like the Indians. Quickest to call you racist if they don’t get their way all the time too. I’m hoping a few might go home when their Tarneit block of land they were speculating on has to settle.

    • Indians understand only one thing … Money … How to make it and not to pay it! Indian engineering college referred me to a NAB broker friend of his to get the best rate … found out later he was getting kickback … Asked for a 160k loan and the gave me a 450k loan with 2 credit cards – one for me and one for my wife… Luckily we ate still married and just paid off the loan.

    • Exactly. The fact the are protesting the private health insurance requirement so much demonstrates they never believed they should meet their own health costs – and so presumably they expected someone else to do so.

  14. If the govt was smart, they would offer migrants a $100 voucher to visit their parents once a year. Be a bargain.

    Parent visas make a mockery of the alleged demographic benefits of migration.

  15. Im from the UK (now citizen) and not once did I think to bring my family across, oh my god why would I with all the constant drama, happy to get a visit every 10 years and may visit the odd occasion as well.

  16. Don’t you have to earn about $50k before you become a net taxpaxer? So even with an income of 83k there’s not a great deal of net tax there.

    Here’s a radical idea, if you want to live with your parents don’t emigrate to another country.

  17. “I want MY share!!!!”
    hahahahahahaha The whole world is out to pillage this country, from the highest corporate elites and their corrupt and traitorous political puppets in parliament that serve them down to the lowest of slum dwelling would be migrants. I don’t blame them having a go at taking advantage of us. Why should I be angry at them when we invited them to go for it? It’s the Aussie way, – look after Numba One, @!#$# your countrymen @## your country!

    This is how all great countries and empires finally turn into muck:

    Same as it ever was. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IsSpAOD6K8