australia familiy migration visa
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Australian Family Visa Scheme

australia family visaWe’ve already written an article providing an overview of the Australian Skilled Migration Visa Categories. This time we’ll provide you with an overview of the Australian Visa types relating to Family Migration.

Applicants applying under one of the family related visa classes are selected on the basis of the family relationship to a sponsor in Australia. These will usually be partners, fiancés, dependent children and parents.

Family Migration stream

The Australian family migration stream allows for the migration of immediate family members of Australian citizens, permanent residents or eligible New Zealand citizens, such as partners or fiancés and dependent children. Places are also available for other family members, including parents, orphan relatives, aged dependent relatives, carers and remaining relatives.

The planning level for the family stream in 2012-13 is set at 60 185 visas, which represents 31.7 per cent of the total migration program. The overall planning level for 2012-13 is set at 190 000.

Family stream categories

Family stream migrants are selected on the basis of their family relationship with their sponsor in Australia. There is no test for skills or language ability as required for skilled stream migrants.

Family stream migration has four main categories; partner, children, parent and other family visa categories.

Australian Partner Visa

There are two visa types for partners wanting to migrate to Australia:

Partner visa is for a spouse or de facto partner, including a same-sex partner of the Australian sponsor.

Prospective Marriage visa for a fiancé who is overseas and who plans to marry their Australian sponsor after travelling to Australia.

Australian Child Visa

There are three visa types for children wanting to migrate to Australia:

Child visa is for a dependent child of the Australian sponsor

Adoption visa is for a child adopted outside Australia by the Australian sponsor

Orphan relative visa is for a child who is under 18 years of age at the time of application and who cannot be cared for by either parent. The child will be cared for by the Australian sponsor.

There is also a temporary visa for dependent children of temporary partner visa holding parents. This visa enables such children to be added to their parent’s permanent partner visa application.

Australian Parent Visa

There are two visa types for parents wanting to migrate to Australia:

Parent visa is for parents of the Australian sponsor

Contributory parent visa is for parents of the Australian sponsor who pay a higher visa application charge as a contribution to health and welfare costs.

There are a limited number of visa places available each year for Parent visa applicants. Applicants for Parent visas can expect to wait a number of years for their application to be finalised.

There are more places available for Contributory Parent visa applicants and application processing times are significantly shorter. However, applicants must pay a much higher second visa application charge and a larger Assurance of Support (AoS) bond, with a longer AoS period than Parent visa applicants.

Other Australian family Visas

The Other Family category consists of the following three visa types:

Australian Carer visa

Carer visa is for applicants willing and able to give substantial, continuing assistance to an Australian relative or member of their family who has a medical condition that impairs their ability to attend to the practical aspects of daily life. The need for assistance must be likely to continue for at least two years.

Australian Aged Dependent Relative visa

Aged Dependent Relative is for single, widowed, divorced or formally separated applicants who are dependent on an Australian relative.

Australian Remaining Relative visa

Remaining Relative visa is for applicants who have no near relatives outside Australia and is the brother, sister, child or step equivalent of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.


All family stream migrants, whether they apply in or outside Australia, must be sponsored by a close family relative, partner or fiancé (as applicable for the category).

The sponsor must be

  • An Australian citizen,
  • Australian permanent resident or
  • eligible New Zealand citizen 
  • 18 years of age or older.

Partner category applicants must be sponsored by their partner (or a parent or guardian of their partner if their partner is under 18 years of age)

Child category applicants must be sponsored by a parent (except certain step-parents) or relative, or that person’s cohabiting partner

Parent category applicants are usually sponsored by their child or stepchild, but they may also be sponsored by their child’s partner. If the child is under 18 years of age, certain other people are able to sponsor the applicant.

Other family category applicants must be sponsored by a relative.

Limitations on sponsorship

There are limits on the number of visa applicants that may be sponsored if the applicant is the partner or fiancé of the sponsor. There is also a limit on the timeframe in which they may be made.

In addition, a person who entered Australia as a remaining relative or a person who previously sponsored a remaining relative cannot sponsor another person as a remaining relative.

Permanent Contributory Parent visa holders who were granted their visa on or after 1 July 2009 may also be barred from sponsoring a partner or fiancé for a period of five years from the date of visa grant.

Assurance of Support

An Assurance of Support (AoS) is a legal commitment by a person, not necessarily the sponsor, to repay the Australian Government certain welfare payments paid to migrants during the AoS period.

Some family stream applicants are subject to a mandatory AoS. Other applicants may be subject to a discretionary AoS if they are assessed as being at risk of becoming a charge on Australia’s welfare system.

Health and character requirements

Like all migrants, family stream applicants are assessed on an individual basis and they must be assessed against Australia’s health and character requirements.

Capping visa classes

A number of visa classes in the family stream can be subject to capping. This means that when the number of visas set by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship for a class for that program year has been reached, no further visas can be granted in that class in that program year.

Limits on further applications

Unsuccessful applicants are limited from applying again for some visas while still in Australia. This ensures that people do not continue to make applications solely to delay their departure from Australia.

People who are unlawfully in Australia, or no longer hold a valid substantive visa, and who have previously been refused a visa or had a visa cancelled, have the opportunity to make an application for a limited range of visas.

In the family stream categories, a person may be eligible to apply to remain in Australia as a permanent resident on grounds of being an orphan relative or a dependent child, provided that circumstances have changed since the refusal of their last application.

Under changes that commenced on 14 September 2009, a person may be eligible to apply to remain in Australia as a permanent resident on grounds of being a spouse or de facto partner of an Australian, provided they meet certain specific criteria. They must not have had a visa cancelled or refused on character grounds or have had a Partner visa refused since their last entry to Australia, and they must provide the following with their application:

So there we have it. As always, when it comes to the Australian Migration program, it’s always worth noting that things do sometimes change so always ensure you check out the Australian Immigration website for the most upto date details. 

Obviosuly if things do change, we’ll write about these changes here.

Please feel free to comment below if you have any specific question in relation to this Australian Family Visas.

To a successful move down under!

australian family migration visa

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Written by Mark

As the founder of Getting Down Under, Mark is passionate about demystifying the process associated with a move to Australia. Having launched Getting Down Under in early January 2006 and made the move to Australia from the UK in the same year, Mark continues to share resources and support for those looking for assistance. If you have a question for Mark, please post in our Community Forums. Please note All information provided on Getting Down Under should be considered in conjunction with our disclaimer. Please seek professional advice if you have any doubts! 

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