Are you pursuing study in Australia and have a partner or child? No need to fret about leaving them behind; they may apply as dependents on your student visa application to accompany you to Australia. Of course there are requirements that must be satisfied.
Read: Student 500 Visa
Member of the family unit (MoFU)
A member of the family unit for a student visa is:
- A spouse or de facto partner of the applicant
- At least 18 years old
- Unmarried dependent child under 18 years
Initial student 500 visa application
All existing family unit member are required to be declared on the initial student 500 visa application, whether or not there is any intention for they to join the main applicant in Australia or not at any stage. Failure to do so will result in the dependants not being eligible for a subsequent visa as a dependent of the student visa holder. Not fulfilling this critical step will also give rise to concerns of the genuineness of the application and negatively impact the assessment of the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) criterion. Attempting an excuse such as having ‘forgotten’ will not work with the DOHA. After all how can one had ‘forgotten’ a member of their family unit?
If the applicant has gotten married after they have lodged their student visa but the visa has not yet been finalised, the applicant must notify the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) as soon as possible. The partner will not be able to be granted a visa as a secondary applicant but will aid greatly in their application as a subsequent entrant dependent should the main applicant’s student visa be granted.
The only exception to this where a secondary applicant may be added into the application after the student visa has been lodged but before it is finalised, is when a child is born.
Proof of the relationship must be provided to the department. These may be birth certificates or marriage certificates.
Genuine applicant and stay as a family member
Family members must satisfy the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) criterion and prove they are genuinely applying to stay Australia as a member of the family unit of the main applicant.
- GTE requirement
- Intention to comply with visa conditions
- Has a good record of complying with visa conditions on visa(s) previously held
- Declared intention to comply with the conditions for which the visa is granted
- Any other relevant matters
The DOHA will consider the following factors when assessing the GTE criterion:
- Applicant’s circumstances in their home country
- Applicant’s potential circumstances in Australia
- Applicant’s immigration history
- Where the applicant is a minor, intentions of a parent, legal guardian, spouse or de facto partner
- Any other relevant matters
Any other relevant matters refers to any information that is available to the DOHA, such as in the application, in previous applications or from another source, that may affect the assessment of the applicant’s intentions for a temporary stay in Australia.
Financial requirement for family members
Similar to the main applicant, secondary applicants must also fulfil a financial requirement – they are to have sufficient funds to cover the cost of their living in Australia for the duration of their intended stay in Australia. Are you on a combined application? You will need to provide evidence of having the financial capacity to support:
- Living costs as defined by this legislative instrument for the first 12 months or pro rata amount
- Student tuition fees for the first 12 months (refer to your Confirmation of Enrolment (COE) letter)
- School costs for all school-age dependents for the first 12 months or pro rata amount. This is generally taken to be AUD$8,000 a year.
- Travel (flight) costs for the main applicant and all family members
Be careful. If you are not making a combined application for your family and if the applicant has a sibling who is a student visa application or holder, or has nominated a student guardian to accompany them to Australia, their demonstrated financial capacities should align. Evidence of financial capacity should cover both both applicants.
Subsequent entrant family member applicants not on a combined application should provide:
- Evidence that the primary applicant’s spouse or de facto partner, or parents have a specified annual income. Refer to this legislative instrument, OR
- Evidence of sufficient funds to cover travel costs and the first 12 months’ living costs, tuitions fees for themselves and each family applicant, including the visa holder’s costs (above)
Do any of the following situations apply to you? The DOHA will call into question the genuineness of the application.
- Applicant is applying for a student visa as a member of the family unit near the expiry of their own student visa – the applicant may simply be trying to stay in Australia
- Relationship does not follow cultural norms
- Limited information on relationship provided
- Main applicant or dependent previous married
- Main applicant has a poor study record in Australia
The DOHA will assess such applicants on their individual circumstances with more scrutiny on the GTE requirement. You will need to provide significant evidence to allay their worries, so do pay attention to provide as much documentation as possible.
Where the main applicant is a minor, that is, under 18 years of age, the DOHA will consider immigration intentions of the parent or legal guardian, spouse or de facto partner. The DOHA may decide to conduct an interview with the secondary applicant to ascertain the genuinity of the application.
If the main applicant has already been granted a student visa and a subsequent entrant visa application is made where the secondary applicant is found not to fulfil the GTE requirement, the student visa holder may be liable for visa cancellation. For example, the student visa holder may have entered into a marriage for the sake of the secondary applicant attaining a visa in Australia.
Family members of the main applicant or visa holder must provide evidence of having adequate health insurance for the grant of their visa for the period of their intended stay in Australia. Documentation includes evidence of payment of the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). Overseas health and travel insurance is not taken to be sufficient cover.
Education of school age dependents
Should the main applicant intend to study for more than 3 months in Australia and have school-age dependents, they are to provide evidence that there exists adequate arrangements for the education of the school-age dependents. This would be in the form of enrolment papers. School-age dependents are defined as children who have turned 5 years of age but not turned 18.
Throughout Australia, children are to be attending education at latest from the year they turn 6, until at least the age of 17. This may vary depending on the legislation for education in a different State or Territory, so be sure to do some research on compulsory school going years specific to your State or Territory.
If your child at a school-age dependent but not yet at the compulsory age that they must begin education in your State or Territory? Evidence must still be provided that adequate arrangements have been made for when they turn do turn school going age.
If the child is under 5 years of age, you will not be required to submit evidence of adequate arrangements for education, but visa conditions 8517 and 8518 “Maintain education of school age dependents” will be applied to your visa and must be adhered to once the child meets school going age for your State or Territory.
Should the child be 17, they still fall under the definition of a school age dependent. If however, it is not compulsory in the State or Territory in which they reside for them to be in school, evidence of enrolment is not required.
If your location, religious or cultural background impacts greatly on enrolling your child in school, you might look into enrolment in a registered school or home-school arrangements that are approved by the local State or Territory authority.