Member of the Family Unit

The new definition of Member of the Family Unit comes into effect on 19 November 2016.

This change applies to most visas except protection, refugee and humanitarian visas 

The new definition removes those ‘relatives’ as defined in the previous in Reg 1.12 (1)(e): a relative of the family head or of a spouse or de facto partner of the family head who:

(i)  does not have a spouse or de facto partner; and

(ii)  is usually resident in the family head’s household; and

(iii)  is dependent on the family head.

This amendment is made to simplify and limit the definition of member of the family unit, limiting the definition to the spouse or de facto partner of a primary applicant, and children of the primary applicant or their partner, who are dependent.

Prior to this amendment, the definition provided a more generous migration pathway for family members of new entrants to Australia, than was available to family members of Australian citizens and existing permanent residents, because it permitted extended family members to be included in a visa application.

The amendments will not be applied to refugee, humanitarian and protection visas.  The previous definition of member of the same family unit will continue to apply to these visas.

Other amendments included in Schedule 4 of this Instrument included:

  • ‘step child’in the definition of ‘dependent child’
  • set an upper age limit of 23 yearsfor children or step-children who are dependent, unless they are incapacitated for work.  This is to bring consistency to the provisions on who can accompany a visa holder as a family member in line with those on who can be sponsored by an existing permanent resident or citizen as a family member – this amendment applies to an application for a visa made on or after 19 November 2016 or a visa granted as a result of such an application.
  • simplified the provisions that allow a family member who holds a specified temporary visa to be eligible for a further visa even where they are no longer a member of the family unit, for example, because they are now over 23 years of age.  This ensures the family unit is kept together for subsequent visas – this amendment applies to a visa granted on or after 19 November 2016.