Are you an Australian citizen or permanent resident who suffers from medical conditions, and needs assistance with the practical aspects of daily life? Are you unable to obtain the assistance that you require from services that are available in the Australian community?
If you find yourself in this circumstance, then you may be able to sponsor an overseas relative who is willing and able to take care of you for Australian permanent residency.
Subclass 836 & 116 carer visas
The main difference between the 836 and 116 Carer visas is that the 836 visa an onshore visa – which means that the applicant needs to be in Australia when the application is lodged. The applicant is generally allowed to remain in Australia until a decision is made on the application. The 116 visa is an offshore visa. The eligibility requirements for both visas are very similar.
A carer visa is to allow the visa applicant to come to Australia to care for:
- his or her Australian relative; or
- a person who is a ‘member of the family unit’ of his or her Australian relative.
A ‘relative’ of the sponsoring Australian citizen or permanent resident is defined as the spouse, child, parent, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew of the sponsor (this includes step relatives, half brothers and sisters and adopted relatives).
In order for the Australian relative to be an eligible sponsor, he or she needs to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident who is over 18 years of age and is ‘usually resident’ in Australia. (see below for further explanation).
Members of the family unit of the Australian sponsor are defined as the following individuals:
- their partner
- their dependent children
- any relative who lives in their household, is dependent on the family and is unmarried, not in a de facto relationship, divorced or widowed
The visa applicant can also include dependent family members in the application, such as their children, spouse, de-facto partner visa (although the inclusion of such family members may impact DIAC’s assessment of whether the applicant has the capacity to provide the requires assistance – see below explanation).
Sponsor’s medical condition
The Australian relative (or the member of the family unit of the Australian relative) needs to have a medical condition which has been assessed and verified by Medibank Health Solutions as meeting the following requirements:
- the medical condition must be causing physical, intellectual or sensory impairment of their ability to attend to the practical aspects of daily life
- the type of assistance required must be of a type which cannot reasonably be provided by any other relative or obtained from welfare, hospital, nursing or community services in Australia
- the need for assistance must be likely to continue for at least two years
Assessments with Medibank Health Solutions can be arranged over the phone: 1300 361 046.
The sponsor should take along with them their own evidence of their impairment, such as medical reports from their doctor or specialist. If possible, these reports should provide a prognosis for the next 2-3 years as the law requires that the condition of the sponsor will continue for at least 2 years. Once the appointment is made, MHS will send the appropriate forms and details to the sponsor who needs to complete the examination. The sponsor will need to complete these forms and return these to MHS. MHS will then determine whether a physical examination is required or whether an assessment can be made based on the information provided to them
Once the examination is complete, a MHS certificate will be issued. This certificate will state an ‘impairment rating’ which is expressed as a number from 0 to 100. One of the eligibility requirements is that the Australian relative’s impairment rating must be 30 or greater.
Under DIAC’s policy, it will accept the certificate as being valid for 18 months from date of issue.
Applicant’s ability to provide the required assistance
The applicant needs to demonstrate that he or she is willing and able to provide his or her sponsor with substantial and continuing assistance. DIAC will generally conduct an interview with the applicant to discuss the assistance that the sponsor requires, and the level of care that the applicant can provide. The interview record will form part of the evidence which will be assessed to determined the applicant is able to provide substantial and continuing assistance. In determining the applicant’s capacity, the following will also be taken into account:
- Applicant’s general capacity to provide the assistance needed
- Nature of the assistance needed (as evidenced by the medical certificate and MHS assessment report)
- Applicant’s current understanding of the nature and duration of the assistance required
- If the need is a result of disability or prolonged illness, whether the applicant fully understands the exact nature of that disability/illness
- Applicant’s physical ability to assist
- The exact nature and degree of assistance that will be required of them and whether the applicant demonstrates a sufficient degree of maturity to accept such responsibility
- where appropriate, the efforts, if any, the applicant has made to learn more about the above matters
- How the applicant (and where appropriate, accompanying family unit members) proposes to support themselves financially (and how realistic those proposals are given, for example, the need also to provide substantial and continuing assistance to their Australian relative)
- Whether the applicant’s family commitments to their accompanying family unit members allow them to provide the required level of assistance
- Whether the carer has had any training, employment experience or personal factors that may help in providing assistance
I would recommend that the applicant prepares his or her own statement which outlines the applicant’s understanding of the sponsor’s medical conditions and disabilities, the assistance that he or she needs to provide, why the applicant has the capacity to provide this assistance etc.
DIAC may also interview the sponsor. It is very important that the applicant has a clear understanding of the above factors which DIAC will take into consideration when determining whether you have the capacity to provide the sponsor with the required assistance.
I have seen applications refused where the applicant has failed to demonstrate a clear understanding of the sponsor’s medical condition, and/or the level of assistance that the applicant is required to provide. Also, any discrepancies in the answers provided in the interview (e.g. answers are inconsistent with information provided in the application, or inconsistent with answers provided by the sponsors) may also raise doubts about the application and this may lead to visa refusal.
Assistance from welfare, hospital, nursing or community
I have seen a few applications where the applicant and/or the sponsor have failed to address this eligibility requirement in the application, and the failure to address this requirement lead to the refusal of the application. Also having read a number of Migration Review Tribunal decisions in relation to the carer visa, I would say that a lot of applications are refused due to a failure to address this eligibility requirement.
As part of the application, the sponsor needs to demonstrate that the type of assistance that he or she needs cannot reasonably be provided by any other relative or obtained from welfare, hospital, nursing or community services in Australia.
As a starting point, the sponsor might want to investigate the service providers that are listed in The Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Services directory. There are over 30,000 service providers and over 100,000 related services listed in the directory. You should be able to find the contact details for the service providers that are available in your local area.
You need to obtain correspondence from these service providers which outline the level of support that they can provide (or lack of support in some instances). While you may form the view that the level of support that you can receive is not sufficient, it is still up to your case officer to assess your situation and determine whether the assistance that you require can be ‘reasonably’ obtained from your relatives and/or welfare, hospital, nursing or community services in Australia.
Usually resident in Australia
The sponsor needs to be to be ‘usually resident’ in Australia. If the sponsor lives in Australia, has established a home in Australia and intends to continue to live in Australia, then it is usually pretty straightforward to establish that the sponsor is usually resident in Australia (you probably will not need to submit any supporting evidence to demonstrate this in straightforward cases.
If whether the sponsor is ‘usually resident’ in Australia is an issue for the application, then DIAC will consider the following factors in deciding whether the sponsor is usually resident:
- The person’s physical presence in a country
- The length of that residence
- Where they eat and sleep and have a settled home
- The person’s intention to make or not make a country their settled home
How we can help and our professional fees
Our professional fee will be dependent on the complexity of the application. Generally speaking, our professional fee will be around $3,000 to $4,000.
As explained above, carer visa applications are complex and are very time consuming to prepare. We do charge a significant fee for assisting with carer visa applications because we do need to spend significant time with the preparation of the application, including undertaking tasks such as:
- Contacting various community service providers and nursing homes
- Arranging for the sponsor to complete any relevant assessments which may be required before community service provider can confirm the assistance that they can provide
- Corresponding with the sponsor’s doctors to obtain their professional opinion, and obtain written statements from doctors
- Assist the applicant, sponsor and any relevant Australian relatives with the preparation of supporting statements
- Guidance in relation to the questions that may be asked by the Department during interviews with the applicant and/or sponsor
With our clients, we do commence the process by completing a thorough eligibility assessment.
See the feedback that we have received from our clients.