Australia – Changes Announced for Dependent Family Member Definition and Accredited Sponsor Eligibility

Effective November 19, 2016, the Migration Regulations have been amended to redefine who can be included in a visa application as a dependent family member, reducing the upper age limit from 25 to 23 years for dependent children or step-children.

At the moment family members over the age of 23 can be included in visa applications as long as they can show they are financially dependent on the main visa applicant.  As of November 19, 2016, the dependents who can be included on 457 or permanent residence visa applications will change.

For a 457 visa, the age of dependent children (including step children) will be reduced from 25 to 23 years, unless the child is incapacitated and cannot work.  Further, no other family relatives (including parents) will be eligible to be included in the visa application.

For a permanent residence visa application (subclass 186 – the Employer Nomination Scheme), children can be included on the application as long as the child holds a 457 visa. Again, no other family members (including parents) will be eligible to be included in the visa application.

The Department of Immigration has also announced changes to the eligibility criteria for Accredited Sponsor status.  The Department of Immigration has announced that it will be taking a more flexible approach to assessing the eligibility of accredited sponsors.

One of the requirements that accredited sponsors must meet is to ‘have sponsored at least ten primary 457 visa holders in the 24 months prior to the application for accreditation’. This was originally interpreted as requiring sponsors to have had at least ten primary visas granted with nomination transfers not counted.

The current visa grant threshold will be replaced by a ‘Sponsorship Volume Threshold’ and the sponsor will be required to have had nominations for at least ten primary 457 visa holders approved in the 24 months prior to their sponsorship application being made.

This change in interpretation will allow more companies to qualify as accredited sponsors under the program and benefit from priority streamlined processing for their foreign employees’ visa applications.