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Here’s how to bring your family to Australia

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If you have had any dealings with immigration law, you have likely came across the new family sponsorship visas. Under this program, if you are an Australian citizen or a settled permanent resident and made Australia your home, you might be able to bring some of your family members to Australia. In this article, we will discuss the various types of family visas and their requirements.

Partner Visas

If you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident (or if you are a NZ citizen that have been settled in Australia since 2001), and you are in a relationship with an overseas partner, you may be able to bring them to Australia either on a Prospective marriage visa or a Partner visa. If you are engaged or planning to get married in Australia, you can bring your fiancée to Australia on a Prospective marriage visa before you actually get married. If you are already married or in a De Facto relationship, your non-Australian partner might be eligible to apply for a Partner visa for Australia. For more details on Partner visas check our article: “Australian Partner Visa Summary”.

Parent Visas

You can sponsor your parents on either a temporary or a permanent basis to be granted a visa for Australia through various Parent visas pathways. For your parents to come to Australia they first have to meet the “balance of family test (BoF)” which requires 50% or more of their children to be settled in Australia on a permanent visa. For example, if your parents have 4 children, in order to qualify for a parent visa, at least two children have to be settled in Australia as permanent visa holders.

The two main streams of Parent visas are the Aged Parent visa and Contributory Parent visa. The Aged Parent visa (Subclass 804) is relatively cheaper, however, the current average processing time is up to 30 years! The Contributory Parent visa is the other option with processing time of only 18-24 months, compared to the unrealistic 30 years wait, however, this option is very expensive with filing fees as high as nearly $60,000 for one parent and over $100,000 for both parents (including $10,000 assurance of support that may be refundable only after 10 years)!! All parent visas require the parents to meet the health and character requirement. Hence if your parent has a health issue before the visa is granted that will be a burden on the Australian economy, they might not get the visa.

Parent visas can be lodged onshore (i.e in Australia) or offshore (i.e. outside Australia). To lodge a Parent visa application in Australia, your parent has to be older than 65 years.

Child Visas

If you gained your permanent residency in Australia and want to bring your child (under 18 years of age) to Australia, you can do so under the Child visa program. Your child can either be in Australia when you apply for the visa (Subclass 802) or outside of Australia on a Subclass 101. Please seek legal advice before lodging your application, as not all visas allow for further onshore applications. Child visas take on average 3 to 14 months to be processed.

Another scenario when you need to apply for a Child visa is when you have a newborn child who was born after the grant of your permanent visa. In that case, you will have to make a Child visa application for your child to also be granted an Australian permanent visa.

If you wish to adopt an overseas child who is under 18 years, you can, in principle sponsor your adopted child on an Adoption visa (Subclass 102). The adopted child has to be single (not married, engaged nor in a de facto relationship). In practice, these visas are very difficult to get.

There are other types of Child visas even if you do not have the permanent visa yet.

Other Family Category Visas

These visas were more popular in the past, especially given that, the Department has made the visas very difficult and unbearable, specifically given the long processing time. That is mainly because these visas are ‘capped’ and placed in a queue and are only processed once there is enough visas allocated by the government. For instance, there are only 500 places available for the Other Family category in the 2015-16 financial year.

Carer Visas (Subclass 836 & Subclass 116)

If you are an Australian citizen with a long term illness or a medical condition in need of care and you have no one to care for you in Australia nor you can access care through welfare, hospital or nursing community service, you may bring your relative to Australia. You first need to get your medical condition assessed by BUPA and achieve the minimum score of total of 30 on the disability scale and that you need a carer for at least the next two years. The current average processing time/queue waiting period for this visa is over 5 years.

Orphan Relative Visas (Subclass 837 & Subclass 117)

If you have a relative who is under the age of 18 and their parent(s) have either passed away, are permanently incapacitated or their whereabouts are unknown, you might be able to sponsor your relative to Australia on a permanent visa.

Remaining Relative Visas (Subclass 835 & Subclass 115)

This visa allows Australians to sponsor either your or your partner’s sibling, step-sibling, child over 18 years or child under 18 not under your care if they are the only remaining relative who is not living in Australia. This was a popular visa in the past but not anymore given the very long processing time being currently 50 years. Additionally, an assurance of support has to be given by you as the sponsor.

Aged Dependent Relative Visas (Subclass 838 & Subclass 114)

You can bring an old relative who is not married nor in a de facto relationship who has been financially dependent on you for a minimum of 3 years before lodging the application. The age of the applicant has to be the pension age currently being over 65 years (increasing to 65 years and 6 months from 1 July 2017). Your relative has to meet the health and character requirement and you will have to provide assurance of support as a commitment of not relying on social security once your relative come to Australia. The current processing time/queue waiting period is also 50 years before the application is released to final processing.

Useful tips if you are interested in Family Visas:

  • Your partner can also sponsor your non-Australian relatives.
  • Your family’s pending application might be affected if their circumstances changes.
  • A review might be possible if the application were to be refused.
  • Ensure you lodge a valid application by posting your application to the correct DIBP office.


About the authors

This article was written by Marial Lewis.

If you would like ImmiAdvisor to blog about a specific topic please email sapna@immiadvisor.com

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Marial Lewis

Marial is an accredited specialist lawyer in Immigration Law and a multi-award…


  1. Avatar

    Its a really great blog with great information. Just got aware about the visa available in Australia. Keep spreading such information.

  2. Avatar

    One of my friend asked to to help about gathering the details about how she can avail visa for family members, and this blog helped her a lot in gaining the information as she study in Perth and was having doubts in the procedure.


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