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Family Visas Australia

February 11, 2024
Myer Lipschitz

Family visas in Australia encompass a range of categories that enable Australian citizens, permanent residents, and eligible New Zealand citizens to reunite with their loved ones. These visas cater to different familial relationships, providing pathways for partners, children, parents, and other family members to join their relatives in Australia either temporarily or permanently.

Types of Family Visas:

  • Partner Visas: For spouses, de facto partners, including same-sex relationships.
  • Parent Visas: Permitting parents of Australian nationals or permanent residents to emigrate.
  • Child Visas: For dependent children, orphan relatives, or adopted children of Australian citizens.
  • Other Family Visas: This category includes visas for aged dependent relatives, remaining relatives, and carers of Australian citizens or permanent residents.

Navigating the intricacies of Australian family visas requires an understanding of the eligibility criteria, application processes, and associated costs. Each category has unique requirements and processing times, making it crucial for potential applicants to be well-informed about the options that best suit their situation. If you’re unsure, please contact us and our immigration advisers will be able to assist.

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Do I Need a Sponsor for a Family and Relative Visa?

Sponsorship is typically a requirement for most family and relative visa applications in Australia. The type of sponsorship and the sponsor’s qualifications will vary depending on the specific visa category.

However, all sponsors must:

  • Be 18 years old or older.
  • Reside in Australia.
  • They should hold the status of an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen.

Eligibility Criteria

In applying for family visas in Australia, eligibility requirements must be met, specific to each visa subclass. The following outlines these criteria for partner, parent, child, and other family visas.

Partner Visas

Australian family visas for partners require the applicant to be married to or in a de facto relationship with an Australian citizen, a permanent resident of Australia, or an eligible New Zealand citizen. For a de facto partnership, the couple must have been in a relationship for at least 12 months prior to applying.

  • Marriage: Must be legally recognised in Australia.
  • De facto relationship: Must have lived together for at least 12 months.

Parent Visas

To qualify for a parent visa, applicants must have a child who is an Australian citizen, a permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen. The Sponsorship for a parent visa may include meeting the balance-of-family test, which requires at least half of their children to reside in Australia or more children living in Australia than in any other country.

  • Balance-of-Family Test: At least half of the children must reside in Australia.
  • Residency of Child: The sponsor must be settled in Australia.

Child Visas

Child visas mandate that the child must be a dependent of an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen. The child can be natural, adopted, or a stepchild. The application must demonstrate that the child is not married or engaged in a de facto relationship and is typically under 25 years of age.

  • Dependency: The child must be financially dependent on the sponsoring parent.
  • Age Limit: Generally under 25 and unmarried.

Other Family Visas

Other family visas encompass remaining relatives, aged dependent relatives, and carers. Applicants must demonstrate their relationship to an eligible family member in Australia and might have to prove that they have no immediate family other than those in Australia.

  • Remaining Relatives: Must be the sibling or child of an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
  • Aged Dependents: Must be reliant on an Australian relative for financial support.

By adhering to these specific eligibility criteria, applicants enhance their chances of successfully obtaining a family visa to join relatives in Australia.

family visa australia

Application Process

The application process for family visas in Australia is a systematic procedure that involves gathering specific documentation, following detailed application steps, and being aware of the processing times and fees associated with the submission.

Documentation Requirements

Applicants must prepare essential documents, which typically include proof of identity, relationship certificates, and legal documents. Identity documents might consist of passports and birth certificates. Relationship certificates are crucial to confirm the familial connections, such as marriage or birth certificates. Additionally, applicants may need to provide character and health certificates, ensuring they meet Australia’s immigration’s health and character standards.

Visa Application Steps

The steps to apply for a family visa in Australia are precise. Applicants must:

  1. Create an ImmiAccount: The online platform for lodging visa applications.
  2. Gather all necessary documents: Ensuring all are in English or accompanied by certified translations.
  3. Complete the relevant visa application form: Whether online for Partner and Child visas or using the paper form for Parent and Other Family visas.
  4. Submit the application: Alongside the required supporting documents.
  5. Pay the visa application fee: This must be paid at the time of application submission.
  6. Monitor the application: Regularly checking the ImmiAccount for updates or requests for additional information.

Processing Times and Fees

Processing times can vary greatly depending on the visa type, application volume, and individual circumstances.

Processing times for Partner Visas

Visa Subclass Description Processing Times
Subclass 820 Partner visa (temporary) 75% of applications processed in 23 months
Subclass 801 Partner visa (permanent) 75% of applications processed in 16 months
Subclass 309 Partner (Provisional) visa 75% of applications processed in 17 months
Subclass 100 Partner (Migrant) visa 75% of applications processed in 20 months

Processing times for Parent Visas

Visa Subclass Description Processing Times
Subclass 103 Parent (Permanent) Up to 30 years
Subclass 143 Contributory Parent (Permanent) Approximately 5-6 years
Subclass 173 Contributory Parent (Temporary) Approximately 5-6 years
Subclass 804 Aged Parent (Permanent) Up to 30 years
Subclass 864 Contributory Aged Parent (Permanent) Approximately 5-6 years
Subclass 884 Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) Approximately 5-6 years

Processing times for Child Visas

Visa Subclass Description Processing Times
Subclass 101 Child (Permanent) 90% of applications processed in 15 months
Subclass 102 Adoption (Permanent) 90% of applications processed in 16 months
Subclass 802 Child (Permanent) (Onshore) 90% of applications processed in 13 months

The fees for processing a family visa also vary. They are influenced by the visa subclass being applied for and whether the application is lodged onshore or offshore. Fees are subject to change, and applicants should check the latest fee on the official immigration website before applying.

Rights and Obligations

Holding a family visa for Australia comes with specific rights and responsibilities for the visa holder. While these vary by visa type, all family visa holders should be aware of their conditions of stay, residency implications, and the services they may access.

Visa Conditions

Family visa holders must comply with the visa conditions set upon their grant. The Partner and Parent visas, for instance, typically require the visa holder to remain in a genuine relationship with the sponsor. Critically, holders of provisional visas like the 491 visa must live, work, or study in a specified regional area to maintain eligibility for a subsequential permanent pathway.

Residency Status

The residency status grants certain rights based on the permanent or temporary nature of the family visa. For permanent visa holders, they gain the right to live in Australia indefinitely, work and study in the country, and enrol in Medicare, Australia’s public healthcare scheme. Temporary visa holders, while they can usually work and study, have a limited stay and may not be eligible for permanent residency without further qualifications.

Offshore Vs Onshore Family and Relative Visas

When seeking to join family members in Australia, applicants have two primary pathways: offshore and onshore family and relative visas. The choice between these options is dictated by the applicant’s location and their circumstances.

Offshore Family and Relative Visas

Applicants who are outside Australia must apply for an offshore visa. For example, subclass 309 is the offshore pathway for partner visas.

  • Location Requirement: Must be outside Australia to apply and also when the visa is granted.
  • No Bridging Visa: Applicants will not receive a bridging visa and must wait for approval while overseas.

Onshore Family and Relative Visas

Onshore visas are for applicants already in Australia on another valid visa. This includes the Partner Visas (Onshore) and Skilled Migration (Onshore). Often, applicants can be granted a bridging visa, allowing them to stay legally in the country while their application is processed.

  • Location Requirement: Must be in Australia to apply.
  • Bridging Visa: Provides legal status to remain in the country during processing.

Can My Step-siblings Sponsor Me for a Family Visa?

In Australia’s family visa programme, eligibility for sponsorship by a step-sibling is a specific circumstance under consideration. The guidelines state that a step-sibling can sponsor an individual, provided they meet certain criteria set out by the Department of Home Affairs.



Myer Lipschitz

Myer Lipschitz was born in Johannesburg and is a graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1985 he was conferred the degree Bachelor of Laws. Myer completed his Articles of Clerkship with Ivor Trackman, Attorneys and was admitted as an Attorney to the Supreme Court of South Africa in 1988. Myer immigrated to New Zealand in 1989 and was admitted to practice law in New Zealand as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand...

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