Only persons who are known as a “Member of the Family Unit” (MoFU) can be included in Australian visa applications. We have an article about what this means here, which also includes children (or step-children) of the main applicant (or their spouse / de facto partner).
Notably, children who are over 18 years of age, may still be included if they are:
- under 23 years of age and “dependent” on the family head (or their spouse / de facto partner); or
- have turned 23 years of age and are wholly or substantially reliant on the family head (or their spouse / de facto partner) because they are incapacitated for work due to the total or partial loss of their bodily or mental functions.
This article addresses the above, and how relevant dependency be evidenced.
A child is dependent on another person (i.e. parent or their spouse / de facto partner) if, at the time of establishing dependency:
- the child is, and has been for a substantial period immediately before that time, wholly or substantially reliant on the parent for financial support to meet their basic needs for food, clothing and shelter; and
- the child’s reliance on that parent is greater than any reliance by the child on any other person, or source of support, for financial support to meet their basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.
Under Departmental policy there are various factors that must be considered. Notable considerations include that:
- a person cannot be excluded from being considered “dependent” because they are dependent “by choice”. The only question is whether or not the person is dependent, rather than why they are dependent;
- a “substantial period” is considered to be 12 months under Departmental policy. However, the individual circumstances are relevant and they’d consider the duration of any independence and whether the dependent state is likely to continue;
- only “financial” dependency is relevant in this assessment, and specifically that relating to the child’s basic needs for food, clothing and shelter;
- where a person earns their own income (or receives a benefit) that income is attributed to their basic needs first – irrespective of how it’s actually spent. So if this amount covers most of their basic needs, they cannot be considered “wholly or substantially reliant” even if the claim is that the family head is actually providing food, clothing and shelter, and their own income is actually used for “extras”;
- the reliance on the family head needs to be more than any other source – so if for example a person receives 30% of income from a part-time job, 30% from government benefits, and 40% from the family head – this would satisfy the requirements;
- “basic needs” refers to the lower order needs that a person must sustain (being food, clothing and shelter), it does not encompass luxuries and discretionary consumption goods.
A person may also be considered dependent on the family head (i.e. the parent) if they are financially reliant on them because of a disability that incapacitates them from work. This wording is derived from the “Disability Discrimination Act 1992”.
Having a disability is not in itself sufficient, and similarly, individuals who are working in supported employment or undertaking some other form of work are not automatically excluded solely on this basis. Rather the “total or partial loss of bodily or mental functions” must be the reason why the person is incapacitated for work (and consequently forced to rely on the other person for financial support).
Unlike pure financial dependency (see above), such a person is not required to demonstrate that this type of dependency was for a “substantial period”.
Typically, this requires an assessment by a qualified medical practitioner, so it would be worth getting a full and proper medical report addressing the medical issue and confirming that this is the cause for why the person is incapacitated for work.
When applying for an Australian visa, the panel doctor (if applied for outside Australia) or BUPA may be asked to assess the nature/degree of dependence.
It’s possible that depending on the nature of the applicant’s medical condition, it could cause the visa application to fail on the basis of the health criteria. You can read a separate article about the health criteria for Australian visas here.
Typically, the Department will require that a Form 47A be provided for each child that is over 18 years of age, and documentary evidence of financial dependency.
In most cases, such children are students (such as young tertiary students) who are generally considered dependent on their parents. This can be shown by covering the payment of university studies and accommodation (if relevant), or otherwise giving documents to show that the child is residing at the same address as the parent.
Other documents that can be provided include bank statements (if allowances are transferred to the child via bank transfer), and/or supplementary credit card statements.
Hannan Tew has assisted many families with their relocation to Australia, and can advise about family members that you can or cannot include. Feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or phone (03) 9016 0484 for information on how we can assist to make this aspect of your move as seamless as possible.