Melbourne: In a good news for Indians settled in Australia, the Julia Gillard government Tuesday relaxed tourist visa rules for parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents to enable them to visit their families in this country for longer duration.
Announcing the changes, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen said, "I know that many people are patiently waiting in the queue for a parent visa so we want to provide more generous tourist visas to enable regular extended family visits.
"The government will grant five-year tourist visas with a 12-month stay on each entry to suitable applicants who have applied for a parent visa outside Australia," he said.
It will also consider tourist visas of up to three years with a 12-month stay on each entry for people not currently in the parent visa queue, Bowen said.
"These changes recognise the valuable role parents play in assisting their children and grandchildren in Australia and the social benefits such visits provide," he said.
The changes are expected to be in place by the end of this year.
"Tourist visa grants will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will enable parents to spend more time in Australia with their families while they wait for a parent visa," Bowen said.
"To be granted a tourist visa, applicants must meet Australia`s health and character requirements, have access to adequate funds, have health insurance to cover any healthcare costs during their stay, and intend a genuine visit to Australia," he said.
Tourist visa holders will be subject to a visa condition limiting applications for further visas while they are in Australia.
As with all tourist visa holders, they will be expected to spend some time outside Australia between visits to their families, according to an official statement.