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How long does an Australian family visa take?

Sharing Li
Sharing Li
Australian Migration Agent
May 25, 2024
minute read

Navigating the process of obtaining a Family visa in Australia naturally gives rise to uncertainty and questions, particularly regarding the time it can take for the visa to be processed and for applicants to receive a decision.

In this blog post, we delve into the intricacies of Australian Family visas, providing some guidance and information to potential applicants about what to expect. For tailored advice relevant to an applicant’s specific set of circumstances, contact an Australian Migration Agent today.

Overview of Australian family visas

The umbrella term of ‘Family visa’ is not specific, rather it refers to a diverse array of visa types available to applicants both within and outside of Australia where one of their family members (who is an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen) are willing to sponsor their visa application. 

Subsequently, there are a range of visas that are available to applicants in different situations and locations. These visas include:

Furthermore, for individuals with partners or children permanently settled in Australia, a range of other visa types may be accessible (partner visa/parent visa).

Australian Family visas are beneficial for applicants beyond simply providing for the unification of family members living apart. As most Family visas are permanent, not temporary, applicants are usually allowed to remain in Australia indefinitely, work and study in Australia and enrol in Australia’s public healthcare scheme (Medicare) as applicants are considered permanent residents. Applicants, where eligible, also have the opportunity to apply for Australian citizenship.

While these benefits are attractive to many applicants and the numerous categories provide for a range of circumstances, it can be difficult to determine what visa type is appropriate and should be applied for. Where applicants or their family face this challenge, or if they need more information and guidance, they should consider contacting an Australian Migration Agent to assist them in lodging their application.

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Factors influencing Family visa processing time

After applicants have lodged their application, they should be aware that the processing times for applications can vary due to a number of different factors.

At the time of writing, there is a gap between the number of visa places available under the family stream and the increasing demand for these visa types. Additionally, as Family visas have differing requirements and costs, this will impact the number of applications submitted for each subclass. This has caused a backlog of applications for the Family visa types and drastically increased processing times.

Furthermore, delays routinely occur due to incomplete or inadequate applications. In addition to paying the visa application fee and submitting the correct Department form, applicants will usually have to provide a range of supporting documents to substantiate the claims made in their application. Making errors in the application, failing to provide certain required documents or submitting inaccurate material often results in the application requiring additional time for rectification and resubmission. This increases processing time drastically, and is exacerbated by the fact that some Family visa applications need to be sent to the Department in the mail, as they cannot be applied for in person or online.

Similarly, the Department may occasionally need additional time to verify applications or request that applicants meet additional requirements or respond to Departmental communications. This may involve security checks, health examinations or an interview. These procedures can further prolong the processing time for an application.

While an Australian Migration Agent cannot speed up the processing time of the Department, they can assist applicants making a ‘decision-ready’ application, that is correct, complete and accurate to minimise any avoidable delays.

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Current processing times

Given that each Family visa application undergoes individual evaluation, application processing time is impacted by a range of factors and the increased workload of the department, it can be difficult to predict exactly how long any application will take.

The Department does provide a rough estimate guide for some applications on their website. Applicants should be aware that this is not available for every visa type. At the time of writing, the Department’s estimations are:

  • Child visa (subclass 802/subclass 101): 50% processed in 14-16 months, 90% processed in 23-29 months
  • Adoption visa (subclass 102): 50% processed 6 months, 90% processed in 20 months

It is important that applicants acknowledge that information provided by the Department about processing times is an estimate and should only be used as a reference point.

For Carer (subclass 116/subclass 838), Aged Dependent Relative (subclass 114/subclass 838) and Remaining Relative (subclass 115) visas applicants should be aware that these subclasses are subject to capping and queuing. This means that visa processing times for these subclasses can be longer. At the time of writing, the Department estimates that a Carer (subclass 116/subclass 838) visa will take up to 7 years to be processed, with Aged Dependent Relative (subclass 114/subclass 838) and Remaining Relative (subclass 115) visas taking up to 24 years.

Applicants should be aware that after an application is lodged, the Department does not provide any updates to the status or progress of their application.

Processing times ultimately are subject to change and may vary due to the factors mentioned above as well as other factors that can arise when an application is made. An Australian Migration Agent can help mitigate some delays, however as the Department independently evaluates applications, the application process inherently takes time to complete.

Tips for faster processing times

As a result of assisting various applicants with their Family visa applications, Australian Migration Agents do have various tips for speeding up how long it takes an application to be processed.

  • Applicants should properly consider their options before making a visa application and ensure that they are eligible for the visa being applied for
  • Applicants should allow themselves plenty of time to find a sponsor (a family member), fill out the required forms and provide the relevant documents to avoid inadvertent mistakes and omissions
  • Applicants should stay aware of any changes in Australia’s immigration laws and policies and consider how their application may be affected by any changes.
  • Applicants should endeavour to respond to any additional requests or queries from the Department in a timely manner
  • Applicants after lodgement should reconsider their application to ensure that they have not made any mistakes or failed to provide any evidence. If this is discovered they should notify the Department as soon as possible
  • Where applicants are unsure in regards to any part of their application, they should engage the services of a migration lawyer or agent to assist them in making a valid application

How an Australian Migration Agent can help

Australian Migration Agents are committed to providing assistance to potential clients through personalised advice and guidance. An Australian Migration Agent will tailor our approach to the specific needs of an applicant, and our services extend to helping applicants identify the most suitable visa for them, assisting them to understand any additional requirements and preparing an application on their behalf. Additionally, an Australian Migration Agent will communicate with clients regularly to provide them with any updates in relation to their application as well as representing them in Departmental correspondence. At Australian Migration Agents, we understand that visa applications can be stressful for applicants and families alike, however we are committed to relieving some of these anxieties and giving applicants confidence in the applications that they lodge.

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