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Family Visas to Australia Of the 110,000 visas on offer in 2002-03, just over 43,000 visas have been allocated to the Family Migration Program.
Family stream migrants are selected on the basis of their family relationship with their Australian relative. All family migrants must be either sponsored or nominated by a close family member, partner, or fiance(e) living in Australia.
The Family Migration Program is divided into several visa subclasses which include:
- For applications made in Australia, the main applicant and any dependents included in the application must be nominated.
- For applications made outside Australia, the main applicant and any dependents included in the application must be sponsored.
- Spouse Visa (de facto and married couples)
- Prospective (Fiance) Marriage Visa
- Interdependent Visa
- Parent Visa
- Remaining Relative Visa
Sponsoring a spouse/defacto
This includes a husband, wife, genuine defacto partner of the sponsor/nominator. They must have been in a relationship for at least one year before making the application. If the partners are not living together they must be able to show:
- knowledge of each other's personal circumstances;
- financial aspects of the relationship, such as any joint ownership of real estate, joint bank accounts or other major assets;
- the nature of the household including living arrangements such as joint residential receipts or joint household accounts;
- the social aspects of the relationship, provided in statements (i.e. statutory declarations) by parents, family members, relatives, friends and other interested parties;
- joint membership of organisations or joint participation in sporting, social or other activities;
- joint travel.
One-year relationship requirement
Since 1 May 1997, some categories of applicants to permanently migrate to Australia are required to be in a relationship for at least one year. Obviously this applies to applicants on the basis of their relationship with an Australian sponsor or nominator, and defacto spouses of people applying for other migration categories.
Will we be interviewed?
Possibly. If your partner is overseas, they may be interviewed in the country they are living in to help decide whether the relationship is genuine. Obviously the answers of each partner will be compared. It's not possible to say what questions will be asked, but they might cover:
- how you met;
- the circumstances of your relationship;
- the other people in your partner's family, and what you know about them;
- details of your sleeping arrangements;
- details of household duties etc.
Remember, your answers will be compared to those of your partner! Inconsistent information may be a reason for unsuccessful applications.
Sponsoring an interdependent partner
This usually refers to gay, lesbian and other "interdependent" relationships. The sponsorship requirements are the same as for a spouse or de facto i.e. the relationship must be genuine and continuing and is subject to the one-year relationship requirement.
Sponsoring a fiancee
Most of the same rules apply. One extra criteria is that you must intend to marry the applicant within nine months of their arrival, after which time the temporary visa that is offered for this category will expire. In other words, the proposed marriage can't be a sham or to just allow your partner to live in Australia.
Can a fiancee get a permanent visa?
Only a temporary visa will be issued, and it will expire nine months from arrival - during that time you must marry and your husband/wife should then apply for permanent residency. There is then a further waiting period of two years before a permanent resident's visa is granted if the relationship is still continuing. Your fiancee will have to provide a sworn statement about the relationship and various other written evidence which illustrates the genuineness of the relationship - this is similar to that required by an applicant spouse/de facto and their sponsor. Remember, even if you marry within the nine months you must still make the application for a permanent visa!
Sponsoring a child
To be eligible the child must be:
- Dependent child: the natural, adopted or stepchild of the Australian sponsor or nominator. In normal circumstances, a dependent child applicant must be under 18, but may be under 25 if a full-time student who remains dependent on the parents. This rule may be relaxed if the child has a disability which stops them from working.
- Adopted child: a child adopted overseas.
- Orphan relative: an unmarried child under 18 at the time of application who cannot be cared for by either parent.
- Meet the health and public interest criteria.
The need to be reunited
Usually children come to Australia with their parents, so the Department may want to know some of the following details to establish the genuineness of the relationship:
- why the child did not come to Australia with the sponsor;
- how the child was supported while apart from the sponsor;
- whether friends and relatives believe the child, if adopted, is part of the family;
- whether professionals, such as doctors and teachers believe the child, if adopted, is really part of the family; and
- how the child has kept in contact with the sponsor.
Sponsoring a parent
To be eligible the parent must be:
- Working Age Parent: a person outside Australia who is not old enough to be granted an Australian age pension and who meets the "balance of family test".
- Aged Parent: a person, either in or outside Australia, who is of an age to be granted an Australian age pension and who meets the balance of family test.
- Designated Parent: this is a restricted group a person who lodged an application for parent subclass 113 (offshore) and parent subclass 819 (onshore) that remained undecided on 31 March 1999.
The parent must also:
- be the sponsor's natural parent, step-parent or parent by adoption (if the adoption took place before the child turned 18);
- meet the "balance of family" test. That is, at least half their children (including step-children) live in Australia or more children are in Australia than any other single country. Not all children are counted - check with your lawyer or migration agent;
- have arranged for their sponsor or other person to sign an assurance of support; and
- meet the health and public interest criteria.
Your parent will have to prove their relationship to you e.g. your birth certificate, together with evidence of the whereabouts of other children or the death/disappearance of children and how they have kept in contact with the sponsor.
Other family reunion categories
Other family reunion categories include:
This applies to certain relatives who want to provide assistance to you when you have a permanent or long-term need because of a medical condition that cannot reasonably be met by existing community or family supports in Australia. The law about this is complex. Get advice from a lawyer or migration agent. The need for assistance must be likely to continue for at least two years
Aged dependent relatives. This applies to single (including widowed and divorced) older relatives (over 60 for women and 65 for men) of sponsors who are dependent on their Australian family and substantially without support in their home country. The law about proving that the relative is dependent is complex. Get advice from a lawyer or migration agent.
Remaining relatives. This applies to a person who has no close family ties outside Australia and is the brother, sister, child or step equivalent of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen. Proving where your relatives lives or the contact with other relatives can be complex. Get advice from a lawyer or migration agent.
Orphan relative.This applies if the person is not married and is under 18. It does not matter if a parent is alive, what is important is that they cannot care for the child, i.e. they cannot be found or they are incapacitated. The sponsor or nominator must be either the child's brother or sister, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or niece or nephew (or step equivalents).
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