AFTER 22 years living here, Joan Nicholson considers Australia home but at 86, she can never become a permanent resident or citizen.
The Yanchep resident moved to Perth in 1992 with her husband on a retirement visa subclass 410, following her son Dave and his family who are now Australian citizens.
‘Like all 410 visa holders at the time, she provided a positive and much needed injection of money, vitality and stability into the ailing 1990s economy,’ Mr Nicholson said.
‘She continues to contribute to the economy and social harmony of Australia. But her request for some stability and dignity in return is being ignored.
‘She isn’t considered Australian enough to live as a permanent resident. Instead she must continually prove her eligibility to live in Australia with her Australian family by providing police clearances and proof of self-sufficiency on each costly visa renewal.’
Although she still has two daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren living in the UK, Mrs Nicholson said she loved being by the beach in Yanchep.
‘The climate is better here than in the UK,’ she said.
Mr Nicholson said they wanted the Federal Government to review the visa as it caused distress for elderly people living in Australia, including his mother.
‘At 86 years old, my mother is forced to spend over $5000 a year on private health insurance or her visa will be revoked,’ he said.
‘She has no access to the welfare system, to pensioner concessions and no government support of any nature. Further to this, her British government pension was frozen at its 1992 level as the UK government affirm she is an Australian resident.
‘She is one of the few elderly individuals in the western world with no access to a current aged pension. 410 visa holders are not seeking handouts, they just want to be able to stay in their homes and live peaceful, respectable lives free from the fear of expulsion.’
The Yanchep man said although his mother was still reasonable healthy, they were concerned about not having a safety net.
‘If there was a major illness, it could get quite costly,’ he said.
The Nicholsons said the great-grandmother could not get travel insurance as she was not a permanent resident.
Retirement visa holders must have “minimal impact”
A spokesman for the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Michaelia Cash, said the retirement visa was for retirees who were 55 or older, had no dependants and wanted to live in Australia.
‘There are no mandatory conditions attached to a retirement visa,’ he said.
‘On July 1, 2009, the validity period of this visa was increased to 10 years and the restriction on the work a visa holder can undertake in Australia was removed.
‘The retirement visa closed to new applicants on July 1, 2005 and was replaced by the investor retirement (subclass 405) visa.
‘Holders of the retirement visa continue to be able to remain in Australia indefinitely, subject to meeting the requirements for subsequent visa grants.’
The spokesman said the visa ensured retirees had minimal impact on the national budget in terms of welfare, health and similar costs.
‘Investor retirement visa holders must be able to make a significant long term financial investment in Australia and meet asset and income requirements,’ he said.
‘The retirement visa does not provide permanent resident status but does allow visa holders to remain in Australia indefinitely.’
The spokesman said there were almost 3600 retirement visa holders in Australia as of March 31.
He said retirement visa holders could apply for a permanent visa if eligible. See www.immi.gov.au