How Do I Sponsor Family Members to Australia?
Australia continues to be a highly popular destination for migrants from around the world. It is estimated that around 30% of the Australian population was born in another country; this equates to over 7.5 million people. There are numerous reasons that the “lucky country” continues to see high demand, not least the warm sunny climate, stunning environment, high standard of living, world-class healthcare system, and high wages. If you have moved to Australia, or you are making plans to migrate down under, then you may be wondering what your options are for sponsoring your family members to join you. In this article, we will explain how permanent residents who have migrated to Australia can subsequently sponsor family members to join them.
Can I Sponsor a Family Member to Come to Australia?
The Australian Department of Home Affairs offers a range of visa types which enable migrants who have acquired permanent residence or citizenship to sponsor family members to join them. These are classed as family and partner visas, and mainly apply to partners, children, and parents of settled migrants in Australia. In some circumstances it is also possible for other relatives to join family members.
Given the wide range of visa options available, before making a decision on which to apply for, it is recommended that you seek the guidance of an international immigration lawyer. Based on the circumstances of your family members, they will be able to suggest the route which will meet their needs in the long term.
Which Visa Types will allow me to Sponsor a Family Member to Come to Australia?
Sponsoring your partner to join you in Australia
Under the Australian partner visa scheme, Australian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their partner to join them. The process of applying is split into two parts: your partner will first apply for a provisional partner visa from outside of Australia, and then a full partner visa to allow them to remain permanently after two years in Australia. One of the prerequisites of this visa is that the applicant and the sponsoring partner must be married or in a de-facto relationship. A de-facto relationship is one in which:
- you have a mutual commitment to the exclusion of all others
- you have been together in your relationship for 12 months or more
- your relationship is genuine and continuing
- you either live together or don't live permanently apart
- you are not related by family
If you are not yet married, and you plan to ‘tie the knot’ in Australia, then your partner may apply for a prospective marriage visa (subclass 300). This will allow your partner to join you and live in Australia for nine months for the purpose of getting married. Once married, they can apply for a partner visa.
It should be added that the processing times for visas in this category are long. The prospective marriage visa typically takes up to 26 months, and the provisional partner visa can take up to 18 months.
Sponsoring your parents to join you in Australia
There are two primary routes available to parents being sponsored to come to Australia:
- Contributory Parent visa - allows a parent to join you in Australia. They must be over the pension age in Australia and at least half of their children must reside permanently in Australia. They will be required to pay an application fee of AUD47,755 – this leads to a faster decision (typically around 12 months) than a non-contributory application.
- Parent visa – the difference between the contributory parent visa and the parent visa is that the application fee is much lower (AUD6,415), but the processing time can be much longer (the Australian Department of Internal Affairs website quotes a waiting time of up to 30 years!).
Sponsoring an aged dependant or only remaining relative to join you in Australia
The aged dependant relative visa allows migrants who are reliant on a relative living in Australia for financial support to join them. The eligibility criteria state that applicants must be sponsored by the relative or their partner in Australia. Unfortunately, this visa has a very long processing time of up to 50 years.
The remaining relative visa, which also has a waiting time of 50 years, is designed to enable individuals to move to Australia to be with their only close family member/s.
The highly protracted processing times of these visa make them an unfeasible option for many. For this reason, it is important to seek the advice of an immigration solicitor who can advise on the other options available to your family members.
Sponsoring children to join you in Australia
If you have moved to Australia but have children living in another country, you may be planning to have them live with you. There are a range of visas available to the children of natural or adoptive parents, including the:
- Adoption visa – the child must be under 18 when the application for an adoption visa is submitted. They must also be adopted or in the process of being adopted by the sponsoring parent living in Australia.
- Child visa – this includes natural and step-children. To be eligible under this route, the child must be under 18 years, a full-time student aged over 18 and under 25 and financially dependent on the parent, or over 18 and unable to work due to a disability
While there are a range of options available to allow a settled person living in Australia to sponsor a family member to join them, some are clearly more practical and feasible than others. Even having to wait a year or two is a considerable amount of time to be separated from your loved ones. For this reason, it is vital to seek the advice of an expert in immigration law who will endeavour to ensure the time your family needs to wait is kept to a minimum, and their application is successful on the first submission.