Establishing the dependency of a child

A child is automatically considered to dependent (on their parent(s)) if they are under 18 years of age. Including an adult child (over 18 years of age) in your visa application as a secondary applicant would require establishing that the child is still dependent; adults are considered to be independent and self-sufficient, and would need to be considered on their own merits for a visa. Regardless of age, a child cannot be considered to be dependent if the child is married, engaged to be married or have a de facto partner – this would topple the grounds for the applicant (parent) being wholly responsible for the child’s well being.

There are two situations in which an adult child may be considered as a dependent:

  • The adult child is dependent on the parent
  • The adult child is incapacitated and unable to work



When claiming financial dependence, the dependent needs to be incapable of providing basic needs for themselves financially. If the dependent child is earning an income or receiving a benefit that can cover basic needs independently and without supplementary assistance from the parent, then they cannot be considered as dependent. Full time employment typically excludes one from being defined as dependent. Basic needs cover food, clothing and shelter. Student fees are not considered to be basic.

There is a little breathing space on the latter rule that is offered to students who are studying full-time for their first major undergraduate qualification. They may be considered to be substantially financially dependent even if they work part time or hold a scholarship grant, as parents may still be contributing to housing and other costs that the student can be cover independently. The child must be in continuous full time study from the completion of high school.


Incapacitated for work purposes

A person who cannot work due to disability and therefore is unable to financially support themselves is also considered to be dependent. Disability is defined as:

  1. total or partial loss of the person’s bodily or mental functions or
  2. total or partial loss of a part of the body or
  3. the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness or
  4. the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness or
  5. the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person’s body or
  6. a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction or
  7. a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour.

Disability cannot stand on it’s own as a reason for dependence however. The disability must contribute directly to the child being unable to work. An assessment of the disability and how the disability incapacitates the dependent from working must be provided by a medical practitioner.

The dependent must still meet health requirements under the visa being applied for, however.