All who apply for a parent visa – whether contributory or non-contributory – must meet a balance of family test before the visa is granted.
The balance of family test requires the visa applicant to have:
- At least half of their children lawfully and permanently resident in Australia (including what are called “eligible New Zealand citizens” who are usually resident in Australia), OR
- More children permanently resident in Australia (including eligible New Zealand citizens who are usually resident in Australia) than in any other single county.
Department of Immigration policy indicates that it will count all natural, adopted and step-children of:
- The applicant
- The applicant’s current partner (including de facto partner)
If a parent visa application was lodged on or after the 1st of July, 2011 adult step children from a former relationship are not counted.
Children are not counted in the balance of family test if they:
- Are deceased
- Are removed from their parents’ legal custody by adoption or court order
- Are registered by the UNHCR as refugees and live in a camp operated by the UNHCR
- Live in a country where they suffer persecution or human rights abuse and cannot be reunited with their parents in another country.
Children who are outside Australia are considered to be residents of the country other than Australia where they usually live.
Children who are in Australia on a temporary basis are considered to be residents of the country where they previously lived before traveling to Australia. If the child has no legal right to return to that country, they are taken to reside in their country of citizenship.
Children whose whereabouts are unknown, or cannot be verified, are considered to be residents of their last known country of usual residence.
The Department of Immigration has a useful table on its website that sets out various permutations and considers whether the balance of family test has been satisfied.