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Family migration – Questions and Answers

Further to the announcement in the Budget papers, we will close the following visa subclasses in the Family Stream of the Migration Programme to new applications:

  • Parent visa (subclass 103)
  • Aged Parent visa (subclass 804)
  • Aged Dependent Relative visa (subclasses 114 and 838)
  • Remaining Relative visa (subclasses 115 and 835)
  • Carer visa (subclasses 116 and 836).

The visas will be closed to new applications before the start of the 2014-15 Migration Programme year. The date of cessation will be announced shortly.

For more information see Closing of Non-Contributory Parent and Other Family visas.

Family stream processing

How long will it take to process my application?

Processing time for individual applications will vary and is dependant on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the planning levels and priority for the visa category and the number of applications lodged.

Once an application is lodged the case officer dealing with the application will be able to give an estimated processing time taking into account the application's complexity and the processing times for comparable applications.

Every year the Australian Government sets the overall migration program as part of the Budget process. The department has a responsibility to ensure that the number of visas granted overall and within each visa category are in accordance with the planning levels.

The department currently receives more applications than there are places available in the family stream of the migration program. This means that there will be some increase in processing times for these visas.

The planning levels for each part of the family stream in 2014-15 are:

  2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Partner 42 000 45 400 46 325 47 525 47 825
Child 3 300 3 450 3 850 3 850 3 885
Contributory Parent 7 500 6 500 6 575 6 675 7 175
Parent 1 000 2 000 2 150 2 250 1 500
Other Family 750 1 250 1 285 585 500

The current allocation of places in the Partner, Child and Other Family visa categories is not sufficient to fully meet demand. As a result, it is likely that the number of on-hand cases will increase and there will continue to be upward pressure on waiting times.

On 2 June 2014, all Other Family visa categories and the Parent (Non-Contributory) visas (subclasses 103 and 804) were repealed and no further applications will be accepted from this date forward for these visas. Applications lodged on or before 1 June 2014 will continue to be processed according to queue date order and in accordance with any relevant Ministerial Directions.

There are a limited number of places available each year for the repealed visas, but applicants should expect to wait a number of years for their application to be finalised.
Fact sheet 20 – Migration Program planning levels
Processing time service standards

In what order are applications processed?

The nature of family migration is such that all cases have an emotional or compassionate element. Consequently, in the interest of fairness, applications are processed within each visa subclass in the order of the date of lodgement and in accordance with any relevant Ministerial Directions.

Note: The date of lodgement is the date an application is received at the immigration office, provided it is a valid application at that date. The migration booklets for each category of visa provide information on how to make a valid application.

Are there any provisions for prioritising applications?

Processing can be brought forward on the basis of compelling and compassionate circumstances after assessment by a case officer. However, this is only done when the circumstances are significantly more compelling than those which are generally encountered within the usual client group applying for the visa.
See: Fact sheet 37 – Processing priorities for the family migration stream

Why are the average processing times different for different countries and how is this fair?

The service standards for processing times are indicative only. Individual cases might be decided in longer or shorter periods than the service standard, depending on a range of factors, including individual circumstances and the complexity of each case. Processing times also vary by location, reflecting the differing circumstances of national and regional caseloads.
See: Visas for migrating to Australia – as family

Why haven't I received any request for further information or for an interview?

All applications are processed in the order they are lodged and in accordance with any relevant Ministerial Directions. You will be contacted by a case officer if more information is required to assess your case. Not all applicants are interviewed but if you are required to attend an interview you will be contacted by a case officer to make arrangements for an appointment.

I lodged my family stream visa application outside Australia. Can I have a visitor visa while I am waiting for my permanent visa so that I can be with my family in Australia during the processing?

Visitor visas should not be used for long-term stays, for residence in Australia or for the purpose of remaining in Australia for extended periods to await a migration outcome.

When applying for a visitor visa you must meet all requirements, including the genuine visitor criterion, for that visa to be granted. The periods of time an applicant has spent in and out of Australia are taken into account in deciding a visitor visa application.
Fact sheet 54 – Sponsored family visitor visas
Fact sheet 53 – Australia's entry system for visitors

Applicants who travel to Australia on a temporary visa while waiting for their family stream visa application to be processed by an immigration office outside Australia should inform the processing office about their planned visit to Australia.

If an application for a family stream visa was made outside Australia the visa generally cannot be granted while the applicant is in Australia. The exception is where a combined application was made for a subclass 309 (provisional) partner visa and a subclass 100 (migrant) partner visa. In such cases the permanent partner visa may be granted in Australia provided the applicant holds the subclass 309 visa.

As the department has taken longer than expected to process my application, my police certificate has expired. As there is a cost associated with this, do I need to obtain a new police certificate?

Yes. Police certificates must be current at the time of decision on your visa application. The processing office will advise you if you are required to provide any additional police certificates.

What can I do to minimise the time taken to process my visa application?

The size of the Migration Program is a significant factor in the time taken to process visa applications and this cannot be changed but there are still some things you can do to make sure the application is processed as quickly as possible. You can assist by:

  • providing with your application all the documents specified in the checklist for the particular visa category
  • providing any additional material as soon as possible after your case officer asks for it
  • contacting your case officer if you require clarification of any request that has been made
  • advising your case officer of any change in circumstances, especially if your address or contact details change.

Partner Visa Processing

Can I lodge an application for a partner visa if I am in Australia on a visitor visa?

The purpose of a visitor visa is to holiday and visit family. It is not intended to enable the lodging of an application for a permanent visa whilst in Australia. Consequently, visitor and other temporary visas may be granted with a 'no further stay' condition. A 'no further stay' condition is applied to all Sponsored Family Visitor Visas.

If your current visa was granted with a 'no further stay' condition you will not be able to apply for or be granted any further visitor visa while you remain in Australia unless you meet very limited and specific criteria which allow the 'no further stay' condition to be waived.
Fact sheet 53 – Australia's entry system for visitors
Fact sheet 54 – Sponsored family visitor visas

What is the processing time for partner applications?

The service standards published on the website are a general guide to processing times. Actual processing times will vary due to a variety of factors, such as the nature and complexity of the case and the size and composition of the migration program.

Every year the Australian Government sets the overall migration program as part of the Budget process. For the 2014–15 program year, 47 825 program places have been allocated to the partner visa program, an increase of 300 places over the 2013-14 program year. The department processes partner visas in the order they are received and with consideration to the program places announced by the government.
Fact sheet 29 – Overview of family stream migration
Family visa processing times

Will the time taken to process my visa application affect the date on which I become eligible for permanent residence?

No. The date on which a client becomes eligible for permanent residence is based on when their application was lodged, not when their visa was granted. Your eligibility to be assessed for the permanent partner visa is not affected by the time that it takes to process the temporary stage of your application.
Example: If you lodged your application in November 2009 you would become eligible for a Partner (permanent) visa (if requirements are met) in November 2011, two years from the date that you initially lodged your application with the department, regardless of when in that two year period you were granted the temporary partner visa.

If your temporary partner visa is granted more than two years after your initial application, you will be eligible to have your permanent partner visa assessed immediately after the temporary visa is granted.

Why isn't the impending birth of my child considered sufficiently compassionate and compelling to get the case finalised now?

We acknowledge that your personal circumstances may be difficult; however the nature of family migration is such that all cases have emotional or compassionate elements and a decision to bring forward the grant of your visa would disadvantage other applicants in circumstances which may be as equally compelling and compassionate as your own. Consequently, in the interest of fairness, applications are processed in date order.

On very rare occasions a case will be prioritised on compassionate or compelling grounds after assessment by a case officer. This is only done when there are circumstances which are significantly more compelling than those which would generally be encountered within the usual client group applying for the visa.

The department understands that you would like to have your partner in Australia for the birth of your child. The department receives a large number of requests for applications to be prioritised on this basis. It is not possible or fair to other applicants for all these cases to receive accelerated processing. As a result, we are not able to prioritise applications solely on the basis that the applicant or sponsor is pregnant.

There are two concessions in relation to children:

  • waiver of the two-year period between time of application and time of grant for the permanent partner visa if at the time of application there is a child of the spouse or de facto relationship and that relationship has existed for at least two years
  • waiver of the 12 month pre-existing de facto relationship requirement for temporary partner visas under compelling and compassionate circumstances, which can include the existence of a child of the relationship.

Consistent with broader Australian law, no concessions are made in relation to unborn children.

Last reviewed Wednesday 27 August 2014