Did you know that you may be eligible for a Carer Visa if you need to care for someone with a long-term medical condition who has no reasonable access to care options in Australia? There are two carer visa options available, namely, the Subclass 836 Carer Visa, which is an onshore application, and the Subclass 116 Carer Visa, which requires you to be outside Australia at time of application. Both of these visa options grant you permanent residence in Australia.
Additional special visa arrangements have also been enacted which allow aged care facilities to access a personalised visa arrangement to hire employees with the skills to cater for the needs of their communities’ elderly. This enables aged care providers to hire overseas workers with specialised skills to support older Australians from multicultural backgrounds. This includes a temporary carer visa option via a Subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa under an aged-care labour agreement.
In this article, we take a closer look at the carer visa Australia options that are available, including the main carer visa requirements, valid application requirements, labour agreements for aged care providers, carer visa Australia qualifications and the current average carer visa Australia processing times.
Let us begin our discussion by examining the key carer visa requirements that apply.
Carer Visa Requirements
A Carer Visa recognises mutual dependence and support within families, by enabling eligible applicants (whether they be onshore or outside Australia), to qualify for a permanent residence visa on the basis of being the carer of an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen, who is usually resident in Australia.
As noted above, there are both onshore and offshore carer visa Australia options available. Lets now expiore the main carer visa requirements for these two options.
Subclass 116 Carer Visa
The key requirements to qualify for a subclass 116 Carer Visa include the following:
- The applicant claims to be a carer of an Australian relative of the applicant. Australian relative means a relative of the applicant who is an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen;
- The applicant is sponsored by either the Australian relative (as referred to above) if that relative has turned 18; or by the spouse or de facto partner of the Australian relative if:
- the spouse or de facto partner cohabits with the relative;
- the spouse or de facto partner is an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen; and
- the spouse or de facto partner has turned 18.
Public interest criteria (including health and character) as well as special return criteria also apply.
Subclass 836 Carer Visa
The key requirements to qualify for a subclass 836 Carer Visa include the following:
- The applicant is either:
- the holder of a substantive visa* (other than a Subclass 771 Transit visa); or
- a person who is not the holder of a substantive visa, and immediately before ceasing to hold a substantive visa, was not the holder of a Subclass 771 Transit visa, and satisfies Schedule 3 criterion 3002;
- The applicant claims to be the carer of an Australian relative;
- The applicant is sponsored:
- by the Australian relative, if the Australian relative has turned 18; and is a settled Australian citizen, a settled Australian permanent resident or a settled eligible New Zealand citizen; and is usually resident in Australia; or
- by the spouse or de facto partner of the Australian relative, if the spouse or de facto partner has turned 18; and is a settled Australian citizen, a settled Australian permanent resident or a settled eligible New Zealand citizen; and is usually resident in Australia; and cohabits with the Australian relative.
*A substantive visa is any visa excluding a bridging visa, criminal justice or enforcement visa.
Public interest criteria (including health and character) also apply.
Valid Application Criteria
An important point to be aware of is that in order to make a valid application for either a subclass 116 or subclass 836 visa, the application must be accompanied by satisfactory evidence that the relevant medical assessment has been sought.
What Is A Medical Assessment?
Satisfactory evidence of a medical assessment for this purpose refers to a Medical Letter from Bupa Medical showing that the carer medical assessment process has begun.
In this case, Bupa Medical provides a letter on official letterhead to confirm that the relative:
- has contacted Bupa Medical to arrange the commencement of the assessment of the person requiring care; or
- has made the appointment for the medical examination
or that the person requiring assessment has completed the examination.
The prospective visa applicant may wish for their Australian relative to complete the medical examination before the visa application is made in order to assess whether the intending applicant will satisfy the visa grant criteria. A certificate issued by Bupa Medical would also be satisfactory evidence in this case.
If either of these documents are not provided at time of lodgement, the visa application will be invalid.
Also note that the medical examination is to be performed by Bupa Medical on the person with the medical condition, that is, the Australian relative who requires care.
Under policy, an acceptable timeframe for the relative to obtain a Bupa Medical certificate is three months. Once the medical examination has been completed, the medical certificate that is issued by Bupa will be valid for 18 months from the date of issue.
Apart from the medical letter/certificate, in order to lodge a valid application for a carer visa, the applicant must be outside Australia at time of lodgement of a subclass 116 visa; or in Australia when applying for a subclass 836 visa.
The correct visa application charge and form must also be lodged for it to be a valid application.
What Is A Carer?
The term ‘carer’ is defined in the migration provisions to mean the following:
An applicant for a visa is a carer of a person who is an Australian citizen usually resident in Australia, an Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen (the resident) if all the following requirements are met:
(a) the applicant is a relative of the resident;
(b) according to a prescribed medical certificate:
(i) a person (being the resident or a member of the family unit of the resident) has a medical condition;
(ii) the medical condition is causing physical, intellectual or sensory impairment of the ability of that person to attend to the practical aspects of daily life; and
(iii) the impairment has the rating that is specified in the certificate; and
(iv) because of the medical condition, the person has, and will continue for at least two years to have, a need for direct assistance in attending to the practical aspects of daily life; and
(ba) the resident is an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen;
(c) the rating is equal to, or exceeds, the impairment rating as prescribed;
(d) if the person to whom the certificate relates is not the resident, the resident has a permanent or long-term need for assistance in providing the direct assistance;
(e) the assistance cannot reasonably be:
(i) provided by any other relative of the resident, being a relative who is an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen; or
(ii) obtained from welfare, hospital, nursing or community services in Australia;
(f) the applicant is willing and able to provide to the resident substantial and continuing assistance of the kind needed, as the case requires.
Therefore, the visa decision will be based on the Bupa Medical certificate and rating and on Immigration’s assessment of:
- the willingness and capacity of the applicant to provide the necessary assistance;
- whether the required assistance cannot reasonably be provided by other family members or obtained from welfare, hospital, nursing or community services in Australia;
- andif these are satisfactory, any other visa requirements.
Labour Agreement For Aged Care Providers
Under this arrangement, which was announced by the former Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, David Coleman on 8 March 2019, aged care providers can sponsor carers under a carer visa labour agreement as announced by the Minister for Immigration on 8 March 2019. Labour agreements allow individual businesses to access special concessions to the immigration rules.
In delivering aged care services to the Australian community, aged care providers can request a company specific labour agreement to sponsor skilled overseas workers under the following visa programs (which include the TSS visa as a temporary carer visa option):
- Subclass 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa;
- Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa; and
- Subclass 494 Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (SESR) (Provisional) visa.
Company specific labour agreements are designed to enable aged care providers to deliver specialised services that better understand a residents’ cultural needs.
Be mindful that labour agreements will only be considered where it is demonstrated that Australians cannot fill skill shortages and standard work visa programs cannot be utilised.
The company specific labour agreement enables aged care providers to access overseas workers where they previously have been unable to, as the required occupation is not on the list of eligible skilled occupations.
So, what exactly is a company-specific labour agreement?
Company Specific Labour Agreement
A company specific LA is negotiated directly between Immigration and the employer. It can only be considered where a genuine skills or labour shortage for an occupation exists, which is not already provided for in an industry, project agreement or Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA). It is also not available in circumstances where the occupation/s in shortage are not already available under the standard skilled visa programs, unless a strong and compelling business case has been provided. The terms and conditions of the agreement are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Aged care providers who can show they have a genuine vacancy for a full time carer position, and cannot fill that vacancy with an Australian citizen or permanent resident, are able to sponsor qualified and experienced carers for a temporary TSS visa, provisional SESR visa or permanent ENS visa.
This can be a great option for carers, aged care providers and their clients!
Some of the key requirements that an aged care provider must meet in order to qualify for a for a Labour Agreement include the following:
- demonstrate that you have an exceptional need that cannot be met by Australian workers. Here you will need to provide evidence of the niche skills that you are seeking to source from overseas workers; evidence of your recruitment efforts, as well as provide a detailed position description including tasks to be performed;
- show that the workers from overseas will account for no more than one-third of your total workforce, and that you have a plan in place to train and employ Australians so that you won’t need a future labour agreement;
- be an Australian registered business with good standing and no adverse history with Immigration;
- demonstrate that you have consulted with all relevant industry stakeholders, such as an industry body, relevant union and any community group the agreement impacts (e.g. schools or health services).
The prospective visa applicant must also meet specific requirements in relation to English language, salary and work experience criteria. Concession to standard visa eligibility requirements for the TSS and SESR visa may be requested in a company-specific labour agreement business case.
The business must provide strong reasons for why any requested concessions to standard visa criteria should be applied.
The position/s which you are seeking to fill under the labour agreement must be classified as occupation skill level 1 to 4, in accordance with the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).* Aged care businesses that are located in a specific regional area of Australia, Immigration may consider positions that are equaivalent to a skill level 5 in exceptional circumstances.
*Australia’s migration program uses the ANZSCO classification system to identify occupations which may be nominated for a skilled visa. ANZSCO is organised by setting out a general description, skill level, registration and/or licensing requirements and tasks and duties that apply to each occupation.
Skilled overseas workers must generally meet the ANZSCO skill requirements for the occupation which you are seeking to nominate under the labour agreement, including carer visa Australia qualification requirements, as well as satisfy any industry registration or licensing requirements that apply to that occupation.
Also note that the temporary carer visa option via a TSS visa may provide a pathway to permanent residency via the ENS visa. The SESR visa also has a permanent residency pathway (however be mindful that this visa is only available to overseas workers employed in regionally located businesses).
For futther information about labour agreements, we recommend that you refer to our article on the Labour Agreement Visa.
Carer Visa Processing Times
If you are considering applying for a carer visa, you may be wondering how long it might take for an application to be processed by Immigration, that is, what the carer visa Australia processing time is.
It is important to be aware that ‘Other Family’ category visas, which include the subclass 116 and 836 carer visas, are subject to cap and queuing.
What Is Meant By Cap And Queuing?
Capping means a limited number of a specific visa will be granted each Migration Program year. Once the Department reaches this number, no more visas will be granted that year.
The Department continues to assess applications in strict lodgement date order.
Applications that meet the initial visa criteria are put in a queue until a place is available. When more places are available in the new Migration Program year, the Department will finalise applications in the queue.
The queue order is fixed. No application will be given priority ahead of another application.
As at January 2022, the Department has released for final processing carer visa applications with a queue date up to 11 October 2017.
Estimated processing times change periodically, based on a range of factors including the volume of applications received as well as Immigration policies and priorities. According to the Department’s update as at 4 April 2022, a carer visa application that meets the criteria to be queued is likely to take approximately 4.5 years to be released for final processing.
Get More Information
To learn more about applying for an employer sponsored skilled visa, please see the following articles:
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Contact us to book a no-obligation consultation to find out more about applying for a carer visa, including how you can be eligible for a carer visa, or to sponsor carers in your business under a labour agreement.
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Australia’s migration laws are complex, and each case is different. We recommend that you seek professional advice if you are interested in applying for a visa in Australia, including a carer visa, as being fully informed will give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome on your case. A migration professional can help you to do this. There are several terms that are defined in the migration law. Detailed advice about these is beyond the scope of this article and we would therefore recommend that you seek further information in this regard.
For up to date advice on your eligibility for a carer visa Australia, including a temporary carer visa under an aged care labour agreement, carer visa requirements, carer visa australia qualification requirements as they apply to your individual circumstances as based on your nominated occupation, and carer visa Australia processing times, contact PAX Migration Australia, a leading immigration service providing advice on a range of visas, including a carer visa Australia. Contact us for a no obligation discussion on how we may be able to assist you to achieve your migration goals in Australia.
Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and citizenship – Visas – Getting a visa – Family visa processing priorities – Visa processing times – Other Family visas – queue release dates and processing times