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Can International Students Bring Their Parents to Australia?

As an international student, you might be living away from home for the first time. While this is an exciting chapter, it can also carry some challenges. To ease this transition, you may be hoping to bring your parents to Australia, either to visit you. By reuniting with your parents, you can reconnect, spend quality time together, and receive emotional support and encouragement during times of stress. 

So, can you bring your parents to Australia when you are an international student? Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.

Understanding recent news around parent visas

In recent weeks, you may have read news stories about expatriates living in Australia who have been trying to bring their parents to Australia for years under the “dysfunctional” parent visa scheme.

According to the recent migration review report, the parent visa category faces a large volume of backlog of parent visa applications, with some facing wait times of up to 50 years. Although there have been calls for reform to the program, nothing has been actioned as of yet.

While these stories may seem worrying, it’s important to understand that this visa program (and its challenges) likely won’t affect you as an international student. The parent visas discussed in these stories – including subclasses 103/804/143/864/884/173 – are for Australian permanent residents and Australian citizens who desire to sponsor their parents migrating to Australia.

Below, we take a look at your visa pathways for bringing your parents to Australia.

Options to bring your parents to Australia

Visitor (subclass 600) visa

The Visitor (subclass 600) visa allows parents to visit their children in Australia for short durations. There are two streams to this visa: the Sponsored family stream and the Tourist stream.

To be eligible to apply for the Visitor visa, you must meet these eligibility criteria:

  • Be a genuine visitor
  • You must have enough money to support yourself during your stay
  • Pass the character requirement
  • Meet the health requirement

The primary obstacle leading to the refusal of most visitor visa applications is the necessity to establish genuine intentions for visiting. To meet the genuine visitor requirements, you need to provide supporting documents to show your intention to:

  • Stay temporarily in Australia
  • Obey any condition and stay period attached to your visa

Here are the examples of the relevant supporting documents to show your genuine intentions for visiting: 

  • You have enough money for your stay and to leave Australia
  • Your plans while in Australia
  • Family ties to your home country
  • Financial ties to your home country
  • An invitation letter from your relative or friend in Australia

Student Guardian (subclass 590) visa for students under 18

If you are an international student under the age of 18, your parents or eligible relatives may be able to apply for a Student Guardian (subclass 590) visa to provide care and support.

Under exceptional circumstances, your parents and relatives may still be able to obtain a Student Guardian visa even if you are over 18 years old. 

To be eligible for the Student Guardian visa, you must meet the following requirements: 

  • You are the parent of a student visa holder, or a person who has custody of the student, or a relative of the student, aged 21 years or older, nominated in writing by a parent or person who has custody of the student.
  • You can provide accommodation and support to the student.
  • You have enough money to support yourself and the student during your stay.
  • Meet Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirements. 
  • Be at least 21 years of age.

Temporary Parent (subclass 870) visa 

Depending on how long you’ve lived or plan to live in Australia, you may eventually become a permanent resident of Australia. Once you do, you may be eligible to sponsor your parents for a visit to Australia.

The Temporary Parent (subclass 870) visa lets the parent of an Australian citizen or permanent resident, visit Australia for up to 3 or 5 years. This visa can be applied at maximum twice. 

Unlike permanent Parent visas, Subclass 870 temporary parent visa does not have the Balance of Family Test requirement. Therefore, visa applicants are not obligated to have more than half of their children living in Australia.

Important considerations

It’s crucial to remember that you’re never guaranteed an approval for any visa.

The 590 and  600 visas in particular carry the possibility of visa refusal, particularly when parents are unable to fulfil the eligibility criteria (namely the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) and Genuine Visitor requirements).

As with any visa, the best way to improve your chances of gaining approval is to submit an accurate and complete application, and respond to requests for additional documentation in a timely way.

*Disclaimer: While this article was written in partnership with a qualified migration attorney, the contents of this article do not constitute legal migration advice. They are not intended to be a substitute for legal migration advice, and should not be relied upon as such. For professional migration assistance, always consult a migration attorney, a registered migration agent registered with the Office of Migration Agents Registered Authority (MARA) or contact the Department of Home Affairs