Australian Family Visas – an overview of the program
The family visa stream comprises 4 main categories:
- Partner, including spouse, de facto partner (including same-sex partner), and fiancé — the Australian Government set 47,525 places for partner visas in 2013–14, or around 78 % of the total Family Stream.
- Child, including the dependent child or step-child of the sponsor, a child adopted from overseas, and orphan relatives (a child under the age of 18, not married or in a de facto relationship, who cannot be cared for by his or her parents) — 3,850 places or 6 % of the total Family Stream in 2013–14.
- Parent — 8,925 places or around 15 % of the total Family Stream in 2013–14.
- Other Family, including aged dependent relative, remaining relative and carer categories — only 585 places were allocated, or 1 % of the Family Stream in 2013–14. Because this program has been given so little priority by the Australian Government, it is currently estimated (for instance) that already lodged Remaining Relative and Aged Dependent Relative visa applications, that have not yet been assessed, are likely to take up to 16 years to be released for final processing (this was calculated as at 1 July 2013).
Between 2 June 2014 until 25 September 2014 the following visa subclasses in the Family Stream of the Migration Programme were closed to all new applications:. However, applications are now accepted for these visas. If you lodged an application during the period when the visas were repealed then you will need to lodge a new application. All have very significant processing periods.
- Parent visa (subclass 103)
- Aged Parent visa (subclass 804)
- Aged Dependent Relative visa (subclasses 114 and 838)
- Remaining Relative visa (subclasses 115 and 835)
- Carer visa (subclasses 116 and 836).
Family Stream migrants must be sponsored by an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen. There is no skills test or language requirement for family migration as there is for skilled migrants. However applicants must meet the necessary health and character requirements.
Partner or fiancé sponsors are limited both by the number of applications they can make and the time intervals between applications.
Some Family Stream applications—those assessed as being at risk of becoming a burden upon Australia’s welfare system—are subject to mandatory or discretionary Assurances of Support and may be subject to delayed access to Government services such as social security.
In the case of the Parent category, applications are subject to a ‘balance of family test’, whereby more children must live permanently in Australia than elsewhere for the parents to qualify. This may of course be an advantage for Chinese families who have an advantage over some other countries in this regard, as a consequence of China’s one-child policies.