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Proposing an immediate family member ('split family')

A proposer who meets the following criteria may propose family members for entry to Australia through the offshore Humanitarian Programme:

  • holds a permanent humanitarian visa (includes Permanent Protection visas), and
  • did not arrive in Australia as an Illegal Maritime Arrival on or after 13 August 2012.

Eligible applicants proposed by a person or organisation in Australia under the Special Humanitarian Programme (SHP) receive a Global Special Humanitarian (subclass 202) visa. SHP applications that include immediate family are commonly referred to as 'split family' applications. Further information is available on the Special Humanitarian Programme information sheet.

Further Frequently asked Questions on changes to the SHP is now available.

 Information for proposers

The way you arrived in Australia will determine whether you are eligible to propose under the Humanitarian Programme, what processing priority the application will receive and also whether additional factors will need to be considered by the visa decision maker when assessing the SHP visa application.

People who hold a temporary visa are not eligible to propose under the SHP.

If you hold a Protection Visa (subclass 866) or a Resolution of Status Visa (subclass 851), regardless of whether you arrived in Australia with a valid visa or not, the application you propose will receive lowest processing priority and will need to be assessed against four compelling reasons factors (as outlined below).  From 22 March 2014, this includes proposers who were under 18 years old when they proposed an SHP visa application.

Illegal Maritime Arrivals on or after 13 August 2012

Anyone who arrived in Australia without a visa as an  Illegal Maritime Arrival (IMA) on or after 13 August 2012  is not able to propose family members for resettlement to Australia under the Humanitarian Programme. There are no exceptions to this provision and it affects both adult and child proposers.

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 eligible to propose applications under the SHP but the applications will receive lowest priority.

For these applications (including 'split family' applications) decision makers will 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.

It is important to supply as much information as possible against the above four factors in your application so that the decision maker can make an informed assessment of the applicants individual circumstances. Only applications found to be compelling will be further considered for grant of the visa.

Permanent Protection or Resolution of Status visa holders who are under 18

From 22 March 2014 no concessions will be given to proposers who are under 18 years old.  This means that applications proposed by either an adult or a minor will be assessed and prioritised in the same way.

Offshore Humanitarian visa holders (subclass 200, 202, 203 or 204)

Concessions are given to 'split family' applications proposed by an offshore humanitarian visa holder (subclass 200, 202, 203 or 204). These applicants will be assessed against the compelling reasons factors, however, decision makers need only consider the extent of their connection with Australia.

Processing priorities

Processing priorities (for new and existing applications) mean that processing will proceed in a specific order. Under the SHP priorities will be:

  1. immediate or 'split' family proposed by an offshore Humanitarian (subclass 200, 201, 202, 203 and 204) visa holder
  2. applicants proposed by a close family member who does not hold a Protection (subclass 866) or Resolution of Status (subclass 851) visa. This would include where the applicants are siblings, parents, partners or children of the proposer.
  3. applicants proposed by an extended family member who does not hold a Protection (subclass 866) or Resolution of Status (subclass 851) visa. This would include where the applicant is a grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or cousin of the proposer.
  4. applicants proposed by a friend or distant relative who does not hold a Protection (subclass 866) or Resolution of Status (subclass 851) visa or by an organisation operating in Australia
  5. any application proposed by or on behalf of a person who holds a Protection (subclass 866) or Resolution of Status (subclass 851) visa.

Proposers who are Australian citizens will fall under priority group 2, 3 or 4 (above) depending on their relationship to the applicant.

All SHP applicants should expect lengthy processing times for applications to be decided due to the limited numbers of places.

Immediate family members

An immediate family member is either the proposer's partner, dependent child or, if the proposer is not 18 or more years of age, the proposer's parent.

Definition of immediate family member
Family member Description
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.

'Split family' provisions

Applications which include immediate family are commonly referred to as 'split' family applications.

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) would  also be granted a Refugee visa.

However, if the proposer holds a Protection visa (subclass 866), their immediate family member would  be granted a Global Special Humanitarian visa (subclass 202).

Who is eligible?

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 Illegal Maritime Arrival on or after the 13 August 2012.

What else can family overseas do?

If you have family members overseas who have fled from their home country and are vulnerable or under threat in their current country of residence, they should register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Lodging an application

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.

Location of the applicant Office locations
The Middle East, Pakistan or Afghanistan

The Middle East includes: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The application must be lodged at the department's Offshore Humanitarian Processing Centre in Melbourne.
See: Lodging Certain Humanitarian Applications in Australia
Any other country not listed above The application must be lodged at the department's Offshore Humanitarian Processing Centre in Sydney.
See: Lodging Certain Humanitarian Applications in Australia

Application forms

The forms to apply for a Refugee and Humanitarian (Class XB) visa are listed below.
See:
Form 681 - Refugee and Special Humanitarian Proposal (242 kB pdf)
Form 842 - Application for an Offshore Humanitarian Visa (770 kB pdf)

After an application is lodged

For information on what happens after you lodge your application.
See: After an Application is Lodged

Proposer responsibilities

If immediate family applicants are granted a Special Humanitarian Programme 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:
    • Centrelink
    • banks
    • public transport
    • translating and interpreting services
    • health care
    • permanent housing
    • education
    • employment services
    • childcare.

Support for humanitarian visa holders

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) Programme

The Australian Cultural Orientation (AUSCO) Programme 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.

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 Programme (SHP) visa, or their Australian proposers, to assist with the expense of travelling to Australia.

The scheme provides loans of up to 75 per 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.

Details of the fund and application forms are available from IOM at:
Email: travel.loan.canberra@iom.int
Telephone: 02 6267 6634
Website: International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Settling 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

Last reviewed Wednesday 27 August 2014