The Balance of Family (BoF) test is an integral requirement to parent visas. As the name suggests, this requirement looks at a family’s structure and determines a parent’s eligibility. It requires for the parent to be sponsored to have at least half of their eligible children residing in Australia.

The BoF test affects:

  • Parent visa (subclass 103)
  • Aged Parent visa (subclass 804)
  • Contributory Parent (Temporary) visa (subclass 173)
  • Contributory Parent visa (subclass 143)
  • Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) visa (subclass 884)
  • Contributory Aged Parent visa (subclass 864)

The BoF test usually only needs to be met at the time of application. Those who are applying for temporary parent visas will not need to meet the BoF test at the point of their second stage permanent 143 or 864 visas.


Eligible children

  • Australian citizens (does not need to be usually resident in Australia)
  • Australia permanent residents usually resident in Australia
  • Eligible New Zealand citizens usually resident in Australia

Half or more of the parent’s children will need to be eligible children. Some simple examples of parents who would pass the BoF test are:

  • Parents with four children, two of which are eligible children
  • Parents with three children, two of which are eligible children


Residential requirement (non citizens)

Australian permanent residents must demonstrate lawful and permanent residence (permanent resident visa status). Eligible New Zealand citizens must demonstrate that they are usually resident in Australia.

If the applicant is offshore, the residential requirement must be met at both the time of application as well as time of decision whilst it would only need to be met at the time of application if the applicant is onshore.


Usually resident

An Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen who is usually resident, lives in Australia and intends to reside in Australia indefinitely. Because the Department of Home Affairs is looking at intention and not presence, eligible children need not be residing in Australia without absences; periods where they leave Australia for travel, business or employment would not count against their being considered usually resident in Australia.

Short periods of residence in Australia would require some support. Evidence of the child having made Australia their home and usual place of residence would be helpful. These could include evidence such as permanent employment, a driver’s licence, documents relating to a purchase of a house or car.

Casual or intermittent stays in Australia would not be in favor in the assessment of the usually resident criteria.

Children who are in Australia but whose whereabouts are unknown would be considered to be eligible.


Assessing the BoF test – all children

When assessing if at least half the applicant’s children are eligible children, and all the children and step children of the parent and, if applicable, the parent’s spouse or de facto partner, is counted. This does not take into account whether the children are dependent or not.

Step children who are from the applicant’s current spouse or de facto partner are counted in the BoF test. Step children from previous relationships may be included in the BoF test if they are under 18 years of age and the applicant has a parenting, guardianship or custody order.

Children who are born outside a partner relationship from other casual, polygamous or other concurrent partner relationships are not counted.

Deceased children are not counted in the BoF test.


Exceptions to the ‘all children’ rule

An applicant may not include a children in the assessment of the BoF test in the following circumstances


The child was removed from the custody of the parent by court order, adoption or operation of law

This is where the applicant had exclusive custody of the child which was later removed.

Exclusive custody: Sole legal right to the daily care and control of the child, as well as the sole legal responsibility to make decisions regarding the daily care and control of the child. The situation in which sole custody is granted to the other partner in the event of a divorce does not qualify here.


The child resides in a country where they suffer persecution or abuse of human rights and it is not possible to reunite the child with the parent in another country

Evidence of course will need to be provided to sustain such a claim. The DOHA will also make use of other information available, such as information on the country’s situation on the CISNET database.


The child is a refugee in a refugee camp

Verification of the child’s location and refugee status needs to be determined. The child must be registered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).


Related articles

Read: Parent Visa Applications

Read: Contributory Parent Visas

Read: Contributory Aged Parent Visas

Read: New Temporary Sponsored Parent Visa

Read: Including Children in Parent Visa Applications

Need help with the BoF test or other requirements for your parent visa application? Perhaps you want to understand more about the differences between the contributory and non-contributory visas or want to find out if it is worth waiting for your parents to be eligible for aged parent visas? Call +61 2 8054 2537 to make an appointment to speak with our very experienced specialists.