Month: February 2017

Australian visa dependents

Redefining Dependents for Australian Visa Applications

Redefining dependents for Australian visa applications- The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has recently narrowed the definition of “members of the family unit” of a visa applicant who can be included in the visa application to travel to Australia. These changes took effect at the end of 2016.

Essentially, dependent relatives other than children are no longer able to be included and children of visa applicants are now required to be “dependent” on the primary visa applicant, either because they are under 18, are under 23 and do not support themselves or over 23 and incapacitated to work. The new definition does not apply to certain visas such as humanitarian and student visas which each have their own requirements.

Previous definition of dependency

Prior to 19 November 2016, it was possible to include dependent relatives on various Australian visa applications who were ‘members of the family unit’ of the primary visa application.  This was quite a broad definition as in addition to partners and children, parents and other relatives could be included provided the visa applicant could show financial and practical dependency.

New definition of dependency

The DIBP has narrowed the definition of dependency and now the only “members of the family unit” that can be included in relevant Australian visa applications are as follows:

  • Partners (including spouses and de facto partners);
  • Children (including biological, step and adopted children) under 18 and certain other eligible children of the primary visa applicant (as explained below); and
  • Any dependent child of eligible children of the primary visa applicant.

It is important to note that children of the primary visa applicant over the age of 23 can generally no longer be included as they were in the past.  Children between the ages of 18 and 23 can only be included if they are financially dependent on the primary applicant.  There is a limited exception where a dependent child over the age of 23 is incapacitated to work.

Grandfathering Arrangements

Grandfathering arrangements have been implemented by the DIBP for people already holding temporary visas who may apply for permanent residency at a future date.  Therefore, secondary applicants who have been granted visas by the DIBP as “members of the family unit” will be deemed to continue to meet this definition when applying for permanent Australian visas.

Holders of the following visas are deemed to be “members of the family unit” even if they no longer meet the new definition when applying for Australian permanent residency:

  1. Members of the family unit of Temporary Work (Skilled)(subclass 457) visas applying for Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)(subclass 186) and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)(subclass 187) visas;
  2. Members of the family unit holding Skilled Regional Provisional (subclass 489) visa applying for Skilled Regional Permanent (subclass 187) visas; and
  3. Members of the family unit of Temporary Contributory Parent visas applying for permanent Contributory Parent (subclass 243 and 864) visas; and
  4. Members of the family unit of Provisional Business Skills (subclass 188) visas applying for Permanent Business Skills (subclass 888) visas.

The grandfathering arrangements also apply to holders of a subclass 457 visa who apply for a further subclass 457 visa.

For more information on applying for an Australian visa, please feel free to contact the author by email at or by telephone on +61 3 9021 0986 or +61 (0)423 701 747.


The information on this website is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on relevant matters. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. You are advised to seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content contained in this website.