Sponsored Family Visitor Visa (Subclass 600)
If you are planning to visit Australia for a holiday and to visit your family, you will likely be excited and looking forward to your trip. There are a number of visa options available to you, depending on your circumstances and how long you intend to spend in Australia. If you are going for a short trip of up to three months, you can simply apply for a free eVisitor visa. These are typically processed immediately or on the day. If you know you want to spend longer in Australia, and you have family members who live there, you can apply for the sponsored family visitor visa (subclass 600). If you do choose this option, it is important to be aware of the timescales and the application process. In this article, we will explain the purpose of the Australian sponsored family visitor visa (subclass 600), the conditions, how to apply, how much it costs, and the processing times for applicants.
What Is The Sponsored Family Visitor Visa (Subclass 600)?
The sponsored family visitor visa (subclass 600) allows visitors who are sponsored by a family member living in Australia to spend up to one year in the country. There are other benefits of the sponsored family visitor visa. In addition to allowing holders to visit friends or family, and go on a cruise or have a holiday, it is also possible to study or train for up to three months. For those who are planning to study for longer during their stay, a study visa will be more appropriate. It is not possible, however, to use the visa for business or medical treatment.
It is also important to note that being granted leave for 12 months cannot be taken for granted. The immigration case officer in Australia will make this decision based on how long you want to spend in the country and the purpose of your visit. The visa is also generally only granted on the basis that if you leave the country before it expires, you will need to apply for a new one before re-entering – in other words, you are not permitted just to leave and re-enter during your stay.
Once you hold this visa, there is no option to extend it (it will likely be subject to condition 8503 - no further stay); the only way to stay longer is to apply for a new visa of a different type. That said, if there are extenuating circumstances, you may be able to apply to have the 8503 condition waived, for example, on compassionate grounds).
Family members cannot be included on the same sponsored family visitor visa application; instead, they will need to apply separately.
How Do I Apply For An Australian Sponsored Family Visa?
There are several steps which you will need to follow to apply for a sponsored family visa. Before applying, it is advisable to gather the documents you will need to support your application, including:
- Passport or other proof of your identity
- Proof that you are a genuine visitor – this may include a copy of your personal bank statement showing you have money to support yourself while in Australia, a letter from your family member in Australia confirming why you are visiting (and if necessary that they can support you financially during your stay). You may also wish to provide one or more of the following:
- a letter from your employer stating you plan to return to your job
- proof that you study at a school, college or university in your home country
- proof that you have immediate family members in your home country
- proof that you can return home
- proof that you own a house or other major assets in your home country
Any documents not written in English will need to be translated.
The next step is to have your family member in Australia complete Form 1149 - Application for sponsorship for Sponsored Family Visitors. This will confirm that they will sponsor you while in Australia. Once you have your documents ready, you can complete your application online.
To apply online, you will first need to create an account on the Australian immigration system (ImmiAccount). You will need to complete the online application form, upload your documents, submit applications for any family members, and pay the application fee (currently AUD$145).
What Happens After An Application For A Sponsored Family Visitor Visa Is Submitted?
Having applied, you may be asked to have a health exam, to have your biometrics scanned (fingerprints and photo taken) at a local immigration office, or to provide more information before a decision can be finalised.
Once your application is processed, you will then receive a decision in writing. If approved, you will be advised of your visa grant number, the date your visa starts, and your visa conditions. If your application is refused, you will also be told the reason for the refusal and whether you have a right to a review of the decision. An immigration lawyer will be able to assist you if your application is refused for any reason.
The current processing time for the sponsored family visitor visa is around 90 days (in 75% of cases).
With your visa in hand, you will be able to make final arrangements for your journey, including booking flights, and then travel to Australia to see your family members.
The process for applying for a sponsored family visitor visa is considerably more involved than simply applying for a visitor visa, however, you will be allowed to stay for up to one year. It is always advisable to apply for your sponsored family visitor visa as early as possible, and to start collating the documents and evidence you need even earlier. This is especially important if you have a particular date on which you need to arrive (e.g. for a wedding). We wish you all the best with your trip to Australia to be with your loved ones.