Proposing an Immediate Family Member ('Split Family')
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A proposer who meets the following criteria may propose their immediate family members for entry to Australia through the offshore Humanitarian Program:
- holds a permanent humanitarian visa (includes Permanent Protection visas), and
- did not arrive in Australia as an Irregular Maritime Arrival on or after 13 August 2012.
These are commonly referred to as 'split family' applications.
Note: People who arrived as an Irregular Maritime Arrival on or after 13 August 2012 are no longer eligible to propose their family under the Humanitarian Program. People in these circumstances can apply under the Family Stream of the Migration Program.
See: Family Members
In June 2012, the Government invited an Expert Panel (the Panel) to provide a report on the best way for Australia to prevent asylum seekers risking their lives on dangerous boat journeys to Australia. On 13 August 2012, the Panel released its report and recommendations.
See: Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers
These changes came into effect on 28 September 2012, and will have varying levels of impact for Humanitarian Program applicants, depending on how their proposer arrived in Australia.
Irregular Maritime Arrivals on or after 13 August 2012
Anyone who arrived by boat as an Irregular Maritime Arrival (IMA) on or after 13 August 2012 will not be able to propose family members for resettlement to Australia under the Humanitarian Program. There are no exceptions to this change and it affects both adult and child proposers. People who arrive as IMAs will need to sponsor family members under the Family Stream of the Migration Program and pay the relevant visa application charge.
Permanent Protection or Resolution of Status visa holders, including IMAs prior to 13 August 2012
Permanent Protection and Resolution of Status visa holders (including those who arrived as an IMA prior to 13 August 2012) are still eligible to propose applications under the SHP. For most 'split family' applications, decision makers will now need to consider whether there are compelling reasons for giving special consideration to granting a visa by taking into account the following four factors:
- the degree of persecution or discrimination to which the applicant is subject in their home country
- the extent of the applicant's connection with Australia
- whether or not there is any suitable country available, other than Australia, that can provide for the applicant's settlement and protection from discrimination
- the capacity of the Australian community to provide for the permanent settlement of the applicant in Australia.
For SHP applications that have already been lodged, where the proposer is a Permanent Protection or Resolution of Status visa holder (including those who arrived as an IMA prior to 13 August 2012), the authorised recipient will be contacted and asked if the applicant wishes to give additional information against these four factors.
When contacted, it is important to supply as much information as possible so that the decision-maker can make an informed decision about the applicant's circumstances. Proposers and applicants do not need to do anything until contacted by the Department and asked to supply additional information.
Permanent Protection or Resolution of Status visa holders who are under 18
Concessions will be given to 'split family' applications proposed by Permanent Protection or Resolution of Status visa holders (including those who arrived as an IMA prior to 13 August 2012) where the proposer is under 18 years of age at time of application. These applicants will continue to be assessed against the compelling reasons criteria, however, decision makers will only have to consider the extent of their connection with Australia.
Offshore Humanitarian visa holders (subclass 200, 201, 202, 203 or 204)
Concessions will be given to 'split family' applications proposed by an offshore humanitarian visa holder (subclass 200, 201, 202, 203 or 204). These applicants will continue to be assessed against the compelling reasons criteria, however, decision makers will only have to consider the extent of their connection with Australia.
In addition to the changes above, new processing priorities (for new and existing applications) mean that processing will proceed in specific order. For example, in the Special Humanitarian Program (SHP) priorities will be:
- 'split family' of SHP visa holders (ie where the proposer holds a subclass 200, 201, 202, 203 or 204 visa)
- 'split family' of Protection or Resolution of Status visa holders who were under 18 at the time of proposing their family's application
- non 'split family' SHP applications
- 'split family' of Protection or Resolution of Status visa holders.
See: Changes to Refugee & Humanitarian (Class XB) visas (101KB PDF file)
An immediate family member is either the proposer's partner, dependant child or, if the proposer is not 18 or more years of age, the proposer's parent.
|Partner||The spouse or de facto partner of the proposer, where the relationship is recognised as valid for the purposes of the Migration Act 1958.|
|Dependent child||The child or stepchild, of the proposer (other than a child who has a partner or is engaged to be married), being a child who either has not turned 18 or has turned 18 and is dependent on the proposer.|
|Parent||Includes parents or step-parents if the proposer is not 18 or more years of age.|
People applying to be resettled in Australia as the immediate family member of a permanent Humanitarian (including Permanent Protection) or Resolution of Status visa holder must be proposed for entry to Australia by that family member. The applicant's relationship to the proposer must have been declared to the department before the grant of the proposer's visa.
Generally, visas for immediate family members are granted in the same category as the proposer's visa.
Example: the immediate family of a proposer who entered Australia on a Refugee visa (subclass 200) will also be granted a Refugee visa and the Australian Government will fund their travel to Australia.
However, if the proposer holds a Protection visa (subclass 866), their immediate family member will be granted a Global Special Humanitarian visa (subclass 202) and the Australian Government will not fund their travel to Australia.
To be considered as the immediate family member of a humanitarian visa holder, applicants must satisfy the following:
- on the date of the grant of the proposer's Permanent Protection, Resolution of Status or Humanitarian visa, the applicants overseas must have been a member of the proposer's immediate family
- the applicant's relationship to the proposer must have been declared to the department before the grant of the proposer's visa
- the offshore application must be made within five years of the grant of the proposer's visa
- the applicant must continue to be a member of the proposer's immediate family
- the applicant and proposer must not have arrived in Australia as an Irregular Maritime Arrival on or after the 13 August 2012.
Immediate family members of permanent visa holders may also apply for a visa in the Family stream of the Migration Program.
See: Family Members
For those with skills needed by Australia, a visa in the Skill stream is another possibility.
An application for a visa as the immediate family member of a humanitarian visa holder must be made on an Application for an Offshore Humanitarian Visa (form 842), accompanied by a Refugee and Special Humanitarian Proposal (form 681) completed by their immediate family member in Australia.
These applications must be submitted at the appropriate departmental office:
|If the applicant lives in:||The application must be lodged at:|
The Middle East, Pakistan or Afghanistan
|The department's Offshore Humanitarian Processing Centre in Melbourne.
See: Lodging Certain Humanitarian Applications in Australia
|Any other country not listed above||The department's Offshore Humanitarian Processing Centre in Sydney.
See: Lodging Certain Humanitarian Applications in Australia
The forms to apply for a Refugee and Humanitarian (Class XB) visa are listed below.
Form 681 – Refugee and Special Humanitarian Proposal (242KB PDF file)
Form 842 – Application for an Offshore Humanitarian Visa (589KB PDF file)
After an application is lodged
For information on what happens after you lodge your application.
See: After an Application is Lodged
If immediate family applicants are granted a Special Humanitarian Program visa (subclass 202), the proposer or the applicant must pay for their travel to Australia. Assistance may be available under the IOM No-Interest Loan Scheme.
See: International Organization for Migration (IOM) > No-Interest Loan Scheme
If the applicants are granted a Refugee visa (subclass 200, 201, 203 or 204) the Australian Government will pay for their:
- travel costs
- medical examinations
- x-ray examinations.
On arrival in Australia, the proposer is expected to assist in the settlement of the applicant⁄entrant (the applicant becomes an entrant on arrival in Australia). The proposer should:
- meet the entrant at the airport
- provide for the entrant's immediate accommodation needs
- assist the entrant to find permanent accommodation
- familiarise the entrant with services and service providers such as:
- public transport
- translating and interpreting services
- health care
- permanent housing
- employment services
The Australian Government helps humanitarian visa holders to prepare for travel to and life in Australia and settle into the Australian community.
The Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) Program
The Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) Program is offered to humanitarian visa holders who are preparing to settle in Australia. It is delivered overseas, before the entrants begin their journey to Australia.
AUSCO is designed to provide an initial introduction to aspects of Australian life, aiming to enhance participants' settlement prospects, create realistic expectations for their life in Australia, and help them acquire information concerning Australian culture prior to arrival. It is the beginning of the settlement process.
AUSCO is available to all humanitarian visa holders over the age of five, and is delivered over five days to ensure AUSCO adequately covers all topics in sufficient detail.
See: Fact Sheet 67 – The Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) Program
The IOM No-Interest Loan Scheme
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) No-Interest Loan Scheme provides loans to people entering Australia on a Special Humanitarian Program (SHP) visa, or their Australian proposers, to assist with the expense of travelling to Australia.
The scheme provides loans of up to 75per cent of the travel costs, to be repaid in full by the SHP visa holder or their proposer in an agreed time frame. As well as arranging the travel bookings, IOM provides advice and support before, during and after the person's journey to Australia.
Settling in Australia
Australia provides settlement assistance for refugees and humanitarian entrants on arrival in Australia.
See: Fact Sheet 66 – Humanitarian Settlement Services
The Beginning a Life in Australia booklets are designed to assist newly arrived migrants to settle in Australia. There is a booklet produced for each state and territory and they are available in English and 37 community languages.
See: Beginning a Life in Australia
The Life in Australia book is a resource to help migrants understand Australian history, culture, society and the values we share before they sign the Australian values statement.
See: Life in Australia book