Family Visas

Important Amendments to the Family Visa Program

22 Jan 2019 / Ken Hunt

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Important Amendments to the Family Visa Program

The ‘Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016’ received assent just before Christmas and this has implications for all visa applicants wanting to apply for family sponsored visas.

Like some employer sponsored visas, the amendments to the family visa program are designed to ensure that a sponsor is first vetted and approved to sponsor before any further step is taken.

The Act is designed to give protection to incoming visa applications by compelling the disclosure of any previous conduct and offending by the sponsor. It also gives the Minister to power to refuse a sponsorship application and to ban applicants from becoming sponsors if their past conduct warrants same. It also means that visa applicants are not put to the expense of filing visa applications which may fail due to the conduct of the sponsor.

Outside the purpose of the amendments mentioned above, the major practical affect is in the change of mechanics to applications and the delay it may cause in getting Bridging Visas if filing onshore.

E.g. Currently Partner visas are filed first and once filed a reference number is generated and this is used to then link the sponsorship application to it, which is filed second. Under the new program sponsorship applications must be filed first and determined before a visa application can be lodged. If a visa applicant has a critical date approaching with their current visa expiring, they cannot file a partner visa unless their partner is already an approved sponsor.

The Department of Home Affairs has not provided any information around the implementation of the new program, but it is anticipated that this will occur in the first half of 2019.

Whilst we anticipate the new program will initially apply to all partner visa applications, it will eventually extend to any family sponsored visa (i.e. child, parent, remaining relative, carer etc).

We encourage all clients with eligibility to file at the earliest possible opportunity under the current program if a critical date is fast approaching and a Bridging Visa is required. If you have already lodged your application then you can disregard this notice.

Should you have any questions please contact Hunt Migration on 1300 MYVISA or go to and complete an enquiry form and a team member will contact you at the earliest.