Australia – “Member of the Family Unit” to be Redefined

What has changed

Effective November 19, 2016, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection is changing the definition of “Member of the Family Unit” for the majority of visa classes. This will affect which family members of the assignee may qualify for dependent visas.

Previously, children over the age of twenty-three (23) could be included in applications as a dependent if it was shown they were still financially dependent (e.g. in full-time study). Now, they will need to qualify independently for a different visa type if they are to accompany a parent.

Who is affected?

  • Prospective visa applicants and their families

What to expect

This amendment is made to simplify and limit the definition of member of the family unit. The definition will be limited to the spouse or de facto partner of a primary applicant, and children of the primary applicant or their partner, who are dependent. This will disallow provisions for parents of primary visa applicants to be included in an application. This will impact the most commonly-used Australian visa, the subclass 457, as well as most other temporary visas.

Prior to this amendment, the definition provided a more generous migration pathway for family members of new entrants to Australia than was available to family members of Australian citizens and existing permanent residents, because it permitted extended family members to be included in a visa application.

The amendments will not be applied to refugee, humanitarian, and protection visas. The previous definition of member of the same family unit will continue to apply to these visas.

Other amendments include:

  1. ‘Step child’ will be included in the definition of ‘dependent child’
  2. An age limit of twenty-three (23) years will be set for children or step-children who are dependent, unless they are incapacitated for work. This is to bring consistency to the provisions on who can accompany a visa holder as a family member in line with those on who can be sponsored by an existing permanent resident or citizen as a family member. This amendment applies to visa applications made on or after November 19, 2016 or a visa granted as a result of such an application.
  3. Simplified provisions that allow a family member who holds a specified temporary visa to be eligible for a further visa even where they are no longer a member of the family unit, for example, if they are now over twenty-three (23) years of age. This ensures the family unit is kept together for subsequent visas. This amendment applies to visas granted on or after November 19, 2016.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • Clients should speak with their Emigra Worldwide representative to identify alternative options forĀ future scenarios where a dependent visa will not be available.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your clients.

The information above was provided by Emigra Worldwide, our global network partners, and relevant government authorities. The information herein is for general purposes only and not intended as advice for a particular matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work.