Split Family Cases

For each of the Class XB visas (i.e. sub-classes 200/201/202/203/204), the Migration Regulations (in the respective Schedule 2 Primary Criteria) provides for a visa to be granted to an applicant who is a member of the immediate family of a proposer in certain circumstances. "Split family" is the colloquial term for these applications.

The split family provisions reflect the policy intention that persons who have been granted a permanent visa under the humanitarian program and entered Australia in a regular manner may propose immediate family members for entry to Australia under the humanitarian program, rather than under the family stream of the migration program. To meet split family requirements, the applicant seeking to satisfy primary criteria must be a member of the immediate family of a person who holds or held a permanent Class XB visa, an XA-866 Protection visa or a CD-851 Resolution of Status visa.

The applicant must also be proposed in accordance with form 681 by that person (the proposer), and the application must be made within five years of the grant of the visa to the proposer. Split family applicants are not required to satisfy the time of application criteria relating to persecution or substantial discrimination, and may be living in their home country or elsewhere (other than Australia).

For split family cases, Schedule 2 secondary criteria allows for the grant of a visa to a member of the immediate family of the main applicant. Member of the immediate family may include a partner or dependent child and, in limited circumstances, a parent. A parent can be a member of the immediate family only if their child (that is the child who is the proposer or main applicant) has not turned 18.

Application Process

+ What is the Assessment subclass?

In most cases split family applications must be considered under the same visa subclass as the subclass of visa held by the proposer at time of entry to Australia - for example:

  • if the proposer holds or held an XB-200 visa, the split family application must be considered under XB-200
  • if the proposer holds or held an XA-866 (Protection) or CD-851 (Resolution of Status) visa, the split family application must be considered under XB-202.

+ What is the Proposal?

To meet split family requirements, applicants must be proposed by an Australian citizen or permanent resident who:

  • holds or held (as applicable):
  • a Class XB visa or
  • an XA-866 or CD-851 visa

and

  • (for other than XB-201) is not a person described in regulation 2.07AM(5).

A proposal form (form 681) must be submitted at the time the application is made and should be accompanied by evidence of the proposer's permanent visa. If the proposer is a minor, it is preferable (but not obligatory) that the proposal form be completed and signed on the minor's behalf by a responsible adult.

+ What is the time limit for application to be made?

A "split family" application must be made within five years of the grant of the proposer's visa - that is, as applicable, their Class XB, XA-866 or CD-851 visa.

+ What is Family relationship?

The applicant seeking to satisfy primary criteria must be a member of the immediate family of the proposer.

If the proposer holds or held a Class XB visa, the applicant seeking to satisfy primary criteria must have been a member of the immediate family of the proposer on the date the proposer's visa was granted. If the proposer holds or held an XA-866 or CD-851 visa, the person seeking to satisfy primary criteria must have been a member of the immediate family of the proposer on the date the proposer made their visa application.

+ Applicant must continue to be a member of immediate family of proposer

The applicant seeking to satisfy primary criteria must, at the time of application, continue to be a member of the immediate family of the proposer.

Primary applicants are not required to satisfy any of the requirements at the time of decision. Among other things, this means that applicants are not required to continue to be a member of the immediate family of the proposer at the time of decision. Refer to Continued eligibility.

+ Family relationship must have been declared

In all cases, the relationship between the applicant who is seeking to satisfy primary criteria and the proposer must have been declared to the department before the proposer's visa was granted. In assessing this requirement officers should check the proposer's file or other departmental records (for example, IRIS or ICSE). Officers should be flexible as to the type of evidence required to demonstrate that a relationship was declared, for example, a file note can be sufficient evidence. Also, as the Regulations do not specify that the relationship must have been declared by the proposer, this means that if the relationship was declared to the department by another person or an organisation (for example, UNHCR), this requirement would be met.

+ What is Secondary Criteria Eligibility?

An applicant seeking to meet the secondary criteria must be a member of the immediate family of the applicant who meets primary criteria (the main applicant). Applicants who are not "members of the immediate family" of the main applicant but are "members of the family unit" of the main applicant, cannot meet the secondary criteria under the split family provisions. This means that only a partner or dependent child of the main applicant, or a parent of a main applicant who has not turned 18, can meet secondary criteria in a split family case.

+ Criteria for Additional applicants who are not members of the immediate family

Occasionally combined applications are made that include split family members and other family members who do not meet the definition of member of the immediate family of the proposer or main applicant.

Under policy, applications which include "split family members" and adult applicants who do not meet the definition of member of the immediate family should be administratively separated and assessed as two separate applications, that is:

  • a split family application and
  • a standard (non-split family) application.

In such a case, the non-split family applicant must be assessed in their own right against the primary criteria in all subclasses. That is, they will need to be separately assessed on the basis of their claims to be subject to persecution or substantial discrimination.

Before administratively separating applicants not meeting the "member of the immediate family" definition, officers should ascertain whether they are financially, psychologically or physically dependent on the main applicant.

Applications lodged at an SHPC that include:

  • split family members and
  • applicants under 18 years old who are not members of the immediate family

In particular where the applicants live as a family group and there are no other adults responsible for the care of the children - should continue to be processed by the SHPC as one application and referred to post, where a full assessment of the relationship and dependency can be made.