A relative of a permanent resident or citizen of Australia does not have an automatic entitlement to residence in Australia. Nor does a spouse, a fianc�e, a defacto spouse, or a dependent same-sex partner. Rather, the individual wishing to remain in Australia must apply for the relevant visa and must be sponsored by a person who is a permanent resident or citizen of Australia.
Certain categories of Family Visa also require an Assurance of Support from an Australian permanent resident or citizen - meaning that the assurer must:
- Lodge a bond with The Commonwealth Bank of Australia
- Pay a Migration Health Services Charge
- Undertake to provide sufficient direct or indirect financial assistance
So what are the Family Visa categories?
They can be grouped under 4 headings:
Other Family Visas
To receive regular updates on information relating to visas register with us and tick the Visas box.
This is actually a 2-stage visa, being a temporary visa initially that is subsequently changed to a permanent visa. The applicant files one form and pays one fee. Initially the applicant will be assessed for the temporary visa, which is valid for 2 years. A permanent visa will then be issued if the relationship is assessed as still being genuine and ongoing at the end of this 2 years.
Note that the spouse visa is also available where the applicant is in a de facto relationship.
Conditions that apply to the applicant:
- Must be married to the Australian sponsor in a marriage that is valid under the law in Australia, or
- Must be in a de facto relationship with the Australian sponsor, or
- Must have physically known the Australian sponsor, and will be married to the sponsor in a marriage that is valid under Australian law by the time the visa is granted
Prospective Marriage (also known as the Fiancee Visa)
This visa is available to a person who is overseas who wants to come to Australia to marry a person who also agrees to be their sponsor. When granted the visa is valid for 9 months, during which time the applicant must marry the sponsor and apply for the spouse visa if he or she wishes to remain in Australia.
The applicant must:
- Have physically met the Australian sponsor, and
- Be engaged to be married to the Australian sponsor in Australia (details will usually be required to confirm arrangements, etc), and
- Marry the Australian sponsor within 9 months of entering Australia, and
- Intend to live with the sponsor after marriage in a genuine spousal relationship, and
- Apply for the spouse visa within the period of the visa.
Note that this visa can only be applied for outside Australia, and that there are no provisions allowing an individual who is already in Australia on another category of visa to extend their stay in anticipation of marriage. Such a person would be required to marry their fiance(e) before their visa expired, and to apply for the spouse visa.
This category of visa is designed to cater for same-sex couples. The application criteria and procedures are as for the spouse visa whereby a temporary visa will be issued initially, followed by a permanent visa if the relationship is assessed as genuine and on-going after 2 years from the date of the application.
This category allows a natural child, adopted child, or stepchild of a sponsor to apply for a permanent residency visa.
A Dependent Child is defined as:
- A child who is less than 18 years old, or
- A person aged more than 18 and less than 25, and who is dependent on the parent, or who is incapacitated for work because of a physical or mental disability.
An adoption visa can only be applied for in respect of a child under the age of 18 from overseas, where the adoptive parent or prospective adoptive parent is an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen.
The child must:
- Have been adopted under the laws of a country other than Australia, and the adoptive parent must have been living outside Australia for more than 12 months at the time of the application, or
- Have been adopted under the Adoption Convention - meaning that an Australian State or Territory adoption authority supports the adoption (verified in writing), or
- Be intending to come to Australia for the adoption to be completed. In this circumstance the parent must have been approved by the relevant State or Territory welfare authority as a suitable person to adopt the child, or
- Have been allocated to a parent for adoption under the provisions of the Adoption Convention, or a bilateral adoption agreement between Australia and a prescribed country.
A child who has been adopted by Australian sponsors and who is already in Australia should apply for a permanent residency visa via the Dependent Child Visa.
An orphan relative is defined in the Migration Regulations 1994 as a person who:
- Is aged less than 18, and
- Does not have a spouse, and
- Is a relative of an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen.
In addition, the visa applicant must be in a position where he or she cannot be looked after by either parent because both are dead, or permanently incapacitated, or of unknown whereabouts, and it will be in the best interests of the applicant if he or she settles with the relative in Australia.
This category of visa is available to applicants who came to Australia as children with their parents or guardians, and who became unlawful as a result of the actions of their parents or guardians.
Conditions the applicant must satisfy:
- Did not enter Australia on a Transit Visa, and
- Now aged more than 18, and
- Arrived in Australia before aged 18, and
- Became unlawful when aged less than 18, and
- Spent the greater part of his or her formative years before turning 18 in Australia, and
- At the time of the visa decision the applicant had ceased to be a member of, nor was residing with, the family unit with which the applicant had first entered Australia
Parents of children who are living in Australia as permanent residents, Australian citizens, or as eligible New Zealand citizens may be able to apply for a Parent visa. Importantly, intending applicants must also pass what is called the "balance of family test" in which a parent must have at least half of their children living in Australia, or more children living in Australia than any other single country.
Note also that under the Family Migration Program a higher priority is given to Partner and Child visa applications, and so Parent Visa applications are processed more slowly. Also, the number of visas issued under the Parent visa categories are capped, which means that applicants can find themselves in a lengthy queue, with waiting times of several years.
4 new categories of Parent Visas have been introduced called Contributory Parent visas in an effort to alleviate the long queues, and in an effort to balance the relatively high costs to the Australian taxpayer of those who are parents there are fairly significant financial costs, as detailed below.
There are 2 categories of "old" Parent visas, the Parent visa and the Aged Parent visa:
The Parent Visa is available to a person who is not old enough to be granted an old age pension - contact us for details of when you qualify for an Australian Age Pension.
The conditions that apply are as follows:
- The applicant must be the working age parent of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand resident
- The applicant's child must have been settled in Australia for at least 2 years
- The applicant must be outside Australia when the visa is applied for
- The applicant must pass the "balance of family test" (as described above)
- The applicant must be sponsored by a his or her child and there must be an Assurance of Support in place
Aged Parent Visa
This visa is similar to the Parent Visa, although this visa category is available to a person who is old enough to be granted an Australian Age Pension - contact us for details of when you qualify.
In addition, this visa may be applied for inside or outside Australia.
There are 4 categories of Contributory Parent visas, as follows:
- Contributory Parent (Migrant) visa
- Contributory Parent (Temporary) visa
- Contributory Aged Parent (Migrant) visa
- Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) visa
The requirements for the Contributory Parent and Contributory Aged Parent visas are the same as for the Parent and Aged Parent visas above - the main difference is in terms of the visa application fees, as already noted above.
More information and commentary about Parent and Contributory Parent visas is here, and please note that visa application fees may alter at any time, typically on the 1st of July each year.
Please contact us for more information about Parent and Contributory Parent visas.
Aged Dependent Relative
Available for a single, divorced or formally separated aged person who is dependent on a close relative living in Australia. The relative must be at least 18 years old, and an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen.
The applicant must be aged (meaning old enough to be granted an age pension - contact us for details), and have been dependent on the relative for at least 3 years before the application is submitted.
This visa allows an applicant with all other relatives settled in Australia to migrate to live with his or her family. The applicant must be the brother, sister, or child (or step-relative) of an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen, who must also be more than 18 years old. Where the applicant has a spouse, all the spouse's remaining relatives must also be settled in Australia.
This is the category of visa that is available to a person who is willing and able to provide substantial and continuing assistance to a relative who is an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen, where the relative has a severe medical condition impairing his or her ability to attend to the practical aspects of daily life, and where the need for assistance is likely to continue for at least 2 years.
Go Matilda - Your Gateway to Australia