The Sponsored Family stream of the Visitor visa (subclass 600) is intended to be used by people seeking to come to Australia to visit family. The Sponsored Family stream requires formal sponsorship of a visa applicant by an Australian citizen or permanent resident. In some cases, a security bond may be requested.
Formal sponsorship by a sponsor is required to ensure the visa holder will abide by their visa conditions and leave Australia at the end of their visit.
The imposition of a security bond is decided on a case-by-case basis. It is an added assurance that the visa holder will depart Australia and is normally applied in those cases where some concerns remain about an applicant’s intention to comply with their visa conditions.
What does this visa allow you to do?
The Sponsored Family stream will usually allow a stay of three months, but may allow a stay of up to 12 months in certain circumstances. The Sponsored Family stream will generally only allow a single entry into Australia.
The aim of the Sponsored Family stream is to:
- accommodate the many requests from relatives in Australia who want to guarantee their nominated guest will leave Australia before the expiry of their visa
- reduce the high non-return rates for applicants from some countries.
The key features of the visa are:
- mandatory sponsorship
- a discretionary security bond
- penalties will apply to the sponsor if the visitor breaches visa conditions.
To be eligible to sponsor an applicant for the Sponsored Family stream, the sponsor must be:
- an Australian citizen or permanent resident
- aged 18 years or over
- settled in Australia for a reasonable period, usually two years.
The sponsor must also be one of the following:
- a relative (partner, parent, child, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or the ‘step’ or adopted equivalent of any of these)
- a relative of a person who is a member of the family unit of the applicant and who is also applying for a Sponsored Family Visitor visa
- a member of an Australian Parliament (Commonwealth, state or territory)
- an authorised person representing the Australian Government, state or territory department or instrumentality
- a local government mayor.
There are no provisions for fiancés, in-laws, cousins, or friends to provide a sponsorship. Special Category (subclass 444) visa holders, eligible New Zealand citizens, New Zealand citizens and New Zealand permanent residents are also not able to sponsor an applicant under this visa subclass.
Sponsors must complete a sponsorship form (Form 1149) listing all members of the family unit they are sponsoring. The sponsorship form must be lodged by the sponsor in Australia together with a visa application (Form 1418), or attached to an online application, for each visa applicant. The correct visa application charge must be paid for each applicant.
The Sponsored Family stream also enables departmental officers to request a security bond, which may be forfeited if the visitor breaches visa conditions.
The amount of the security bond is determined on a case by case basis and usually ranges from AUD5000 to AUD15 000 per person. However, any amount may be requested.
If a security bond is required, a letter outlining the process for lodging the bond will be sent to the sponsor. It must be paid in full in Australia before a final decision can be made on the application.
Refunds are arranged once the visitor has left Australia having complied with all visa conditions. Information on refunds is provided at the time the bond is requested.
The security bond may not be refunded if the visitor stays longer than the period authorised on their Sponsored Family stream even if the sponsored family visitor is granted another temporary or permanent visa.
Visa conditions and penalties
Conditions attached to the visas are:
- 8101 – no work
- 8201 – while in Australia, the holder must not engage in any studies or training for more than three months
- 8503 – no further stay
- 8531 – must not remain beyond the visa period.
- 8602 – must not have an outstanding public health debt.
Subclass 600 visa holders are no longer required to pass a chest x-ray examination, even if they intend to study in a classroom environment for up to three months.
If for any reason the sponsored family visitor does not depart Australia before their Sponsored Family stream expires, or if they breach any of their visa conditions, penalties will be imposed upon the sponsor. The sponsor will not be eligible to provide further sponsorships under this visa class for five years. If a security bond has been lodged, it may be forfeited.
If a request for waiver of the 8503 (no further stay) condition is made, which results in the sponsored family visitor remaining in Australia after their Sponsored Family stream expires, it will be taken that the 8531 condition has been breached (must not remain beyond the visa period). Penalties will then be imposed upon the sponsor, even if the 8503 condition is waived and a further visa is granted. If a security bond has been lodged, it may be forfeited.
Other visitor visas
As has always been the case, people wanting to support a visitor without lodging a formal and legal sponsorship can do so by providing letters of support with visa applications.