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How Do I Sponsor A Family Member to Move to Australia?

If you have emigrated from your home country to live in Australia, you may be considering whether you can sponsor a family member to join you, either on a temporary or permanent basis. Whether you can sponsor a family member and how you do this depends on whether you are currently a visa holder living in Australia, and if so, which visa you have.

How Can I Bring A Family Member to Australia?

There are three main ways in which you can sponsor a family member to join you in Australia. You can a) add them in your original application, b) add them as a ‘subsequent entrant’ if you have declared the family member in your original application or c) they can make their own visa application (e.g. apply for a child visa). Some visas do not allow subsequent entrants to be added, in which case the only option is for your family member/s to make a separate application.

The first step is to check whether you can include family members on your current visa. For example, if you hold a skilled independent work visa, you can include family members when you apply, or later (but before a decision is made).

Can I Sponsor My Family Member to Come to Australia?

If your family member needs to make a separate independent application, you will need to sponsor them.

Sponsoring a child to come to Australia

To sponsor your child, the Australian Department of Home Affairs has to approve the sponsorship first. You must be the child’s parent on whom they are dependant, and either be an Australian citizen, eligible New Zealand citizen or holder of an Australian permanent visa. According to their guidance, they “might not approve sponsorship if the parent or their partner has been charged or convicted of offences involving children”.

Sponsoring a spouse/partner to come to Australia

A sponsor for a spouse/partner visa must also be approved by the Australian government. The sponsor must be a spouse or de facto partner who is an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen. Crucially, once approved, the sponsor must be the same person for two years after the temporary Partner visa is granted.

How Can I Prove My Eligibility to Sponsor My Family Member?

During the application process, the Department of Home Affairs will review the documents and information provided to ensure that you are a suitable sponsor.

Proving eligibility to sponsor a child

If applying for a child visa, then evidence of the child’s relationship to their sponsoring parent will be required. This may include:

  • a birth certificate
  • a marriage certificate
  • an adoption certificate
  • a family status certificate or family book, if officially issued and maintained

If the child is over 18 when the application is made, then it will be necessary to provide evidence that they are dependant on their sponsoring parent for “basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing, and how long this support has been provided”. Proof of this might include bank statements, money transfers, and rent receipts.

In addition, to act as a sponsor for a child, you will need to prove that you have gained legal consent from anyone who has the right to determine where the child can live (e.g. the child’s other parent). To do this, the person giving consent must complete a consent form or a statutory declaration. The immigration authorities may also accept a valid Australian court order that allows the child to migrate to Australia, or evidence that the laws of the child's home country allow them to leave.

Proving eligibility to sponsor a partner/spouse

If applying for a partner/spouse visa, the Department of Home Affairs will check that the applicant is in a genuine relationship with the sponsor. To do this, you will need to provide your marriage certificate or other evidence that your marriage is valid in Australia. If you are a de facto partner, you will need to provide proof of your de facto relationship. Specifically, your proof needs to evidence that:

  • you have a mutual commitment with your spouse or de facto partner to the exclusion of all others
  • your relationship is genuine and continuing
  • you either live together or don't live permanently apart
  • you are not related by family

You also need to explain in writing:

  • how, when and where you first met
  • how the relationship developed
  • when you moved in together, got engaged or married
  • what you do together
  • time you spent apart
  • significant events in the relationship
  • your plans for the future

You will also need to provide details regarding your joint financial matters, how you share domestic matters, what others know about your relationship, and other evidence of your commitment to each other. Commitment may be proven by sending:

  • proof you have knowledge of each other’s background, family situation or other personal details.
  • proof you have combined your personal matters
  • the terms of your wills
  • proof you stay in touch when apart

As you can see, the Australian immigration authorities are very keen to ensure that they do not allow migrants into the country who are using the cover of a ‘sham marriage’ or non-genuine relationship.

If you are in de-facto (i.e. you are not married) relationship, you will also need to provide proof that you have been in the partnership for at least one year.

Final Words

It is possible to sponsor a family member to join you in Australia, but the immigration authorities a very alert to cases of sponsorship which are not genuine. As such, it is always recommended that you engage the services of experienced immigration lawyers who will ensure that your application provides the necessary evidence that you meet the eligibility criteria to act as a sponsor, and that the application is genuine. Doing so will ensure you have the best chance of receiving a positive outcome when you first apply.

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