This article was written by Tanguy Mwilambwe - National Practice Director - Brisbane

Tanguy is the National Practice Director in the areas of Administrative Law and Immigration Law. He is able to assist clients in court matters throughout most Australian jurisdictions, in relation to Administrative and Immigration decisions. Tanguy has appeared in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Federal Circuit Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia, state courts (including Supreme, District and Magistrates Courts)...

Sponsoring Family Members to Australia


As an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident, there may come a time when you wish to sponsor a partner or relative to bring them to live with you in Australia. There are different types of visas that are available to accommodate these situations. The type of visa you should apply for will depend upon the relationship you have with the person, whether you want them to come to live in Australia temporarily or permanently and what your residency status in Australia is. In some case, different visas may be available depending on whether you are applying offshore or onshore. This article outlines the rules around sponsoring family members to Australia.

Visas for spouses or significant others

There are initially two different types of visas that are available for sponsoring spouses or significant others as family members to Australia.  These are the partner visa and the prospective marriage visa.  These visas are available for both homosexual and heterosexual relationships.

Sponsoring Family Members to Australia – Partner visa

There are two different partner visas – one is for applicants living outside of Australia, and the other is for applicants currently residing in Australia. You will need to be able to show that you are in a genuine relationship with your partner.  You can either be legally married or in a de facto relationship. Generally, if you are in a de facto relationship, you will need to show that you have been in that relationship for at least twelve months. These visas are initially for a temporary period of two years. After two years of having resided in Australia on a provisional partner visa, you will be able to apply for a permanent migrant partner visa and will be able to reside in Australia permanently.

Prospective marriage visa

If you and your partner are not married or in a de facto relationship and you would like them to come to Australia so that you can get married, you can apply for a prospective marriage visa. Once granted, this will give your fiancé the right to live and work in Australia for a period of nine months. After this nine-month period, they will need to apply for a partner visa so that they can remain in Australia. The cost of applying for a partner visa after having held a prospective marriage visa is significantly less than applying for the partner visa straight away.

Additional requirements for visas for spouses or significant others

In addition to proving your relationship status, in order for your partner to obtain a partner visa successfully, they must satisfy a character test and a health check.  Your partner must also be over eighteen, have no debt owing to the Australian government and not previously have had a visa cancelled, or an application refused.

Sponsoring Family Members to Australia – Aged-parent or carer visa

You may wish to bring an aged parent or remaining relative to live with you in Australia or you may be someone who requires a relative from overseas to live with you so that they can care for you. There are several different visas that allow for these circumstances.  Some of these visas, especially for aged dependent relatives, can take a long time to process, in some cases up to thirty years. This is because Australian visas have caps on how many can be granted in an annual period. If you want to bring a parent to Australia and have the financial resources to do so, you may be able to get them a visa more quickly by sponsoring them on a contributory visa.

Some of the visas for bringing parents to Australia require that a balance of family test be met. This requires that at least half of the parent’s children, including any step-children, live in Australia or that there are more children living in Australia than in any other single country.

As with the partner visas, visas of this sort require the applicant to pass a character test and a health check. Many of the visas for aged-parents, remaining relatives or carers also require the applicant to sign a statement confirming that they are committed to Australian values.

Sponsoring Family Members to Australia – Children

You may have a child that you wish to come to live with you in Australia. They may be either adopted or biological children. They may also be an orphaned relative. As with other visas for relatives, the child obtaining the visa will have to undergo health checks and, if they are older than sixteen, meet a character test. If they are over eighteen, they may also be required to sign an Australian values statement.  Visas of this sort will not be granted if the Department of Home Affairs deems that it is not in the best interests of the child.  This type of visa will also not be granted where:

  • the child is under eighteen and written consent of everyone who can legally decide where the child lives has not been obtained,
  • the laws of the child’s home country do not allow them to leave; or
  • it is inconsistent with any Australian court order made about the child.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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