If you have a family member living in Australia who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident, they may be able to sponsor you for a family visa. Australia welcomes eligible family members to live together with their loved ones in the land of ‘Down Under.’
In this article you’ll learn everything you need to know about:
- What Australia family visas are
- What impact COVID-19 is having on family visas
- The different types of family visas
- What criteria needs to be met to apply
- The application process, costs and timelines
What Are Family Visas?
Family visas are designed to provide a pathway to Australian residency for family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents.
There are several different family visas available under Australia’s migration program (see below for more information about these visas).
What Impact is COVID-19 Having on Family Visas?
The COVID-19 pandemic has not had an impact on the number of visas available under family visa program at this stage.
Immigration has advised that there will be 47,732 visas available for this financial year (1 July 2020 – 30 June 2021).
It is also still possible to apply for and receive a family visa despite the pandemic.
However, only those who are Australian citizens or permanent residents can enter Australia (limited exceptions apply). This means that if you were to have a permanent family visa approved, you would be able to enter Australia upon receiving your visa.
However, because the impact of COVID-19 on immigration is fluid, it is possible that changes to the family visa program could occur within the next 12 months.
How Many Family Visas Are There?
There are currently 25 family visas available to chose from.
17 of these visas are permanent visas which means that if you receive one of these visas you will be a permanent Australian resident.
The remaining 8 visas that are temporary visas can often be used as a pathway to permanent residency.
What Types of Family Visas Are There?
Family visas are available for:
- Children living outside Australia that have been adopted by an Australian parent (subclass 102)
- Single older persons who rely on a relative living in Australia for financial support (subclass 114 and 838)
- Parents of an Australian citizen or permanent resident, including aged and contributory parents (subclass 804, 884, 864, 173, 143, 103 and 870)
- People who care for someone with a long-term medical condition who has no reasonable access to care options in Australia (subclass 836 and 116)
- Children who have parents living in Australia (subclass 101, 802, 445)
- Children who are single and have parents that are dead, unable to care for them, or can’t be found (subclass 117, 837)
- Spouses or de facto partners of Australian citizens or permanent residents (subclass 820, 801, 309 and 100)
- People who are about to be wed to an Australian citizen or permanent resident (subclass 300)
There is also a special visa for those who are not a New Zealand citizen but are a member of a family unit of a New Zealand citizen (subclass 461).
What Are The Criteria For Family Visas?
Each family visa has their own set of criteria. However, a common requirement across all family visas is that the visa applicant has a relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident living in Australia.
In some cases, the family member living in Australia will need to sponsor the family member for their visa application.
A sponsorship is an undertaking given by the family member that they support their family members visa application.
If a sponsor withdraws their sponsorship, then it is possible that the person they have sponsored will no longer be able to hold their family visa.
A common example of where this occurs is when a relationship breaks down between a sponsor and a partner visa holder.
Meeting the balance of family test is another common requirement for family visas. However, please note that this test does not apply to all family visas.
The following example demonstrates how the balance of family test works.
Rachel has three children.
Two of her children live in Australia and are Australian permanent residents.
Rachel’s other child lives in Hong Kong and is not an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
In this case, Rachel would meet the balance of family test.
If you are serious about applying for a family visa, you should get professional advice from a registered migration agent or lawyer about the visa criteria that applies to your family visa application.
Can You Include Other Family Members in a Family Visa Application?
Most family visas allow you to include your spouse, de facto partner, or dependent children in your family visa application.
Children over the age of 23 are generally not considered to be dependents, unless there are valid reasons why they are still dependent on their parent/s (i.e they have special needs).
How Long Do Family Visa Applications Take?
Family visa application processing times have been affected by COVID-19.
As a result, immigration has removed most of the publicly available processing time.
Under normal circumstances, family visa applications can be processed anywhere between 11 and 25 months depending the volume of applications.
How Much Do Family Visa Applications Cost?
The visa application fees charged by immigration for family visas range from $365AUD-$47,755AUD.
Please note that these figures do not include things such as professional fees for migration agents or lawyers, English language tests or translation costs.
Interested in applying for a family visa using the help of registered migration agents and legal experts?