Senior Migration Agent Thong Nguyen of Parish Patience Immigration Lawyers was recently contacted by a person who wanted to sponsor his mother and her de facto partner for subclass 870 visas.
The 870 is a visa introduced last year which allows parents of Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens to come to Australia for up to five years at a time, in certain circumstances. The sponsor must be approved before the visa application can be lodged.
The visa applicant must be the biological parent, adoptive parent or step-parent of the sponsor. Although there is no definition of "step-parent" in the legislation, the term "step-child" is defined as a person who is the child of a person's current spouse or de facto partner. It follows, as Thong reasoned, that the spouse or de facto partner must be the step-child's step-parent.
This is in fact what the legislation provides, but when the prospective sponsor called the Department of Home Affairs for clarification he was told that only "biological parents" could be sponsored for an 870 visa.
The moral of the story is, if you want proper advice ask somebody who is qualified to give proper advice, not somebody who just happens to be on the other end of a phone line.