Including Dependents On Your Visa Application
The Australian Government has introduced far reaching changes to the definition of Member of the Family Unit (MoFU) for the purpose of most visa applications. There are now significant limitations on the class of persons that can be considered part of MoFU and hence be included in a visa application.
Character Assessment of Australian Sponsors of Partner Visa Applications
From 18 November 2016, Australian citizen and permanent resident Sponsors of Partner Visa and Prospective Marriage Visa applications (“a partner visa”), are subject to character testing. In line with current Australian Government strategies to reduce family violence in the Australian community, the new provisions have been introduced to prevent Australians who have committed a relevant offence from being able to sponsor someone for a partner visa.

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Australian Migration Dictionary

Last updated 28 February 2013

 Adverse Information
This may include, but is not limited to, information about a sponsor (or a person/company associated with the sponsor) becoming insolvent, or contravening (or allegedly contravening) a Commonwealth, State/Territory law relating to:
  • Discrimination
  • Immigration (including sponsorship obligations)
  • Industrial relations
  • Occupational health and safety
  • People smuggling and related offences
  • Slavery, sexual servitude and deceptive recruiting
  • Taxation
  • Terrorism; or
  • Trafficking in persons and debt bondage

Age Pension (Australia)
The Age Pension is a social security payment issued by the Australian Government. Main Applicants are eligible if they:
  • Are aged 65 years and over if you are a man; OR
  • If you are a woman and:
    • Aged at least 64 years if lodging the application between 01/01/2010 and 30/06/2011; or
    • Aged at least 64.5 years if lodging the application between 01/01/2012 and 30/06/2013; or
    • Aged at least 65 if lodging the application from 01/01/2014 onwards;


  • Meet certain residence requirements and
  • Have income and assets below a certain amount.

Assurance of Support
An Assurance of Support may be required by a person sponsoring a visa applicant.

An Assurance of Support is a legal commitment by a person (not necessarily the sponsor) to repay to the Australian Government certain welfare payments paid to migrants during their respective Assurance of Support period. Respective Assurance of Support periods are:

  • 10 years for Contributory Parent visa holders or
  • 2 years for all other visa types where an Assurance of Support is needed.

Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO)

The Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is a classification system that provides for the standardised collection, analysis, and dissemination of occupation data, including job duties and skills entry thresholds. For all applications lodged on or after 1 July 2010, the Immigration Department will use ANZSCO codes and occupation information, where assessment of a visa applicant's skills to undertake a specific occupation in Australia is a processing requirement (for example, GSM, ENS, RSMS, 457, 419, 442).

ANZSCO occupations, including job duties and skills entry thresholds, can be viewed through the ABS website:

Balance of Family Test (parent migration)
The balance of family test measures the parent’s family links to Australia compared with their family links elsewhere. To pass the test:
  • At least half their children must be permanently resident in Australia, OR
  • They must have more children permanently resident in Australia than in any other single country.

Certified Medical Condition (Carer visas)
The medical condition must meet the following conditions:
  • The medical condition must be causing physical, intellectual or sensory impairment of their ability to attend to the practical aspects of daily life
  • The type of assistance required must be of a type which cannot reasonably be obtained from any other relative or from welfare, hospital, nursing or community services in Australia
  • The need for assistance must be likely to continue for at least 2 years
  • The medical condition must be assessed and verified by Medibank Health Solutions.

Character criteria
All visa applicants must satisfy the requirement that they are of ‘acceptable character’.

For most visa applicants, this involves obtaining Police Records Checks from each country in which they have lived for 12 months or more in the previous 10 years.

A person will fail the character test where:

  • They have a substantial criminal record 
  • They have, or have had, an association with an individual, group or organisation suspected of having been, or being, involved in criminal conduct
  • Having regard to the person's past and present criminal conduct, the person is found not to be of good character
  • Having regard to the person's past and present general conduct, the person is found to be not of good character
  • There is a significant risk that the person will engage in criminal conduct in Australia, harass, molest, intimidate or stalk another person in Australia, vilify a segment of the Australian community, or incite discord in the Australian community or in a segment of that community, or represent a danger to the Australian community or a segment of that community.

Competent English
Competent English is a score of at least 6 on each of the 4 components of a General or Academic IELTS test. The IELTS test must be less than 2 years old at the time of application. Applicants holding passports from UK, USA, Ireland, Canada and NZ are exempted.

Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL)   The CSOL lists all occupations applicants can nominate for General Skilled Migration visas (subclasses 189, 190, 485 and 489) and employer sponsored visas (subclasses 457, 186 and 187).

The list is made up of Schedule 1 and 2. Applicants for subclasses 189 and 485 (General Skilled Migration visas) can only nominate an occupation from Schedule 1.

The list can change at any time and without notice.

Please follow this link to view the list.

Designated Investment
A Designated Investment is one offered by the applicable State/Territory Treasury Corporation, such as:
  • Primary-issue government securities with a maturity of no less than 4 years from the date of purchase
  • Non-transferable and non-redeemable (that is, the security cannot be sold to another investor or sold back to the issuing authority before maturity)
  • Repayment of principal on maturity is guaranteed by the State/Territory government issuing the security.
Repayment of principal on maturity is guaranteed by the State/Territory government issuing the security.

Eligible New Zealand citizen

(Partner visas)

A New Zealand citizen who was either in Australia on 26 February 2001 and held a Special Category visa (subclass 444); or was in Australia for at least one year of the two years before 26 February 2001; or has a certificate issued under the Social Security Act 1991 that states that they were residing in Australia on a particular date. Eligible New Zealand citizens must have been able to have met certain health and character requirements on their last entry into Australia.

Eligible Sponsor (Family) and Eligible Australian Relative (for example under Skilled Regional Migration)

Eligible sponsors for family migration are:
  • Australian citizens or permanent residents
  • At least 18 years of age

Who are a parent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew of one of the applicants, and in Skilled Regional Migration may also be the grandparent or first cousin of one of the applicants.

It is also a requirement that the relative be usually resident in Australia.

Note that in some visa categories a particular relationship may be required (eg. Parent migration).

Eligible sponsor (partner visas)
An eligible sponsor for a partner visa must be all of the following:
  • An Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen who wishes to sponsor the visa applicant as a partner to Australia
  • Generally, the sponsor is the partner of the applicant in a married, de-facto spouse or interdependent relationship. (Unless the Note below applies).
  • Aged 18 years or over.
Note: for spouse visas or prospective marriage visas (but not interdependency visas), if the Australian partner has not turned 18, the applicant needs to be sponsored by the Australian parent or guardian of the Australian spouse.

The eligible sponsor may be asked to provide an Assurance of Support.

Also note that there may be limitations on particular people’s ability to act as a partner visa sponsor, for example if they have sponsored 2 previous partners for migration to Australia or if they were sponsored as a partner within the last 5 years.

Eligible Student visa
(for visa subclass 485)

An eligible student visa is a student visa other than:
  • Subclass 560 granted for an English language course or ELICOS
  • Subclass 560, 562, 563, 572, 573 or 574 granted to a:
    • Person to study with sponsorship from any government or multilateral agency, a condition of which is to leave Australia at the completion of the course; or
    • Person to study or train under a scholarship or training program approved by the AUSAID Minister or Minister for Defence, a condition of which is to leave Australia at the completion of the course
    • Person for a non-award course.
  • Subclass 570, 571, 575 and 576 visas

Expression of Interest
An Expression of Interest is an online form which must be completed if a person wishes to apply for a General Skilled Migration Visa (subclasses 189, 190 and 489). The information provided in this form notifies the Department of Immigration of a person's ability to satisfy the criteria for a GSM visa and indicates that they would like to receive an invitation to apply.

Information provided on the Expression of Interest is considered by the Department of Immigration in each invitation round for two years, or until an invitation is issued (whichever occurs first).

Functional English
Functional English is a score of at least 4.5 on each of the 4 components of a General or Academic IELTS test. Applicants holding passports from UK, USA, Ireland, Canada and NZ are exempted.

Health criteria
There are different health requirements for permanent and temporary visa applicants. In general, the objectives of the health criteria are to:
  • Minimise public health and safety risks to the Australian community
  • Contain public expenditure on health and community services
  • Maintain access of Australian residents to health and community services
Visa applicants may be required to undergo a medical examination with Medibank Health Solutions or an overseas Immigration Panel Doctor.

Invitation to Apply (for visa subclasses 189, 190 and 489)   An Invitation to Apply is essential for applicants wishing to apply for General Skilled Migration visa subclasses 189, 190 and 489. To obtain an invitation, intending applicants must first submit an Expression of Interest through SkillSelect to demonstrate their ability to meet the requirements for the visa.

If the Department of Immigration wants the applicant to apply for one of these visas, then they will issue an Invitation to Apply.

The date the Invitation to Apply is issued is a critical date by which applicants must meet certain criteria for the visa including:
  • Age
  • English language skill level
  • Positive skills assessment in nominated occupation
  • Completion of studies

Main Applicant
Also referred to as Primary Applicant, is the person applying for the visa who will attempt to satisfy all criteria for award of the visa. To be read with definition for Secondary Applicant below.

Market Salary Rate
The rate of pay required to be paid by employers to subclass 457 Temporary Work visa holders and employers wishing to nominate employees for permanent visas under the Employer Nomination Scheme. Market Salary Rate is determined in one of three ways:
  1. If the employer employs Australian citizens or permanent residents in equivalent positions to that being nominated, then the salary paid to the Australian employees is treated as the market salary rate
  2. If there are no Australian employees working for the employer in an equivalent position, then there may be an award of industrial agreement which determines the market rate
  3. If neither (1) or (2) apply, then salary surveys and other job market data may be used to demonstrate the applicable market salary rate.

Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) This is the regulatory body for Migration Agents in Australia.

OMARA maintains a register of professional migration agents in Australia. Registered agents adhere to a strict Code of Conduct.

As a client, you should also be aware of your rights as outlined in the MARA booklet, ‘Information on the Regulation of the Migration Advice Profession

Please click this link to be redirected to OMARA's website

Ownership interest (business visas)
An ownership interest is established if the applicant is either a shareholder, partner or sole proprietor of the business as applicable to the business type.

Prohibited degree of relationship (partner visas)
A prohibited degree of relationship is a relationship between a person and his or her ancestor/descendent (ie, between a parent and a child or grandparent and a grandchild) or between a brother and a sister (full or half blood). This applies to natural and adoptive relationships.

Qualifying Business
A business operated to make profit through the provision of goods and/ or services (not rental property) and not primarily or substantially for speculative or passive investment.

Regional Area

Areas outside of Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Melbourne metropolitan area, greater Brisbane and Gold Coast area.

For a list of all Regional Area postcodes, please see here.

Regional Certifying Body

A certifying body is an organisation which has been approved for this purpose by the Minister for Immigration. There are a number of Regional Certifying Bodies throughout Australia. All Regional Certifying Bodies are endorsed by the relevant state or territory government and many are branches of the State or Territory regional development portfolio.

A list of Regional Certifying Bodies is available here.

Secondary Applicant
Family member, partner (married, de facto or same sex) or child of the Main Applicant.

Settled in Australia
A person is settled in Australia if they are living in Australia as an:
  • Australian citizen
  • Australian permanent resident
  • Eligible New Zealand citizen

The Department of Immigration system for General Skilled Migration visas implemented on 1 July 2012.

The system requires applicants who wish to apply for a GSM visa (subclasses 189, 190 and 489) to submit an Expression of Interest demonstrating their eligibility. Applicants who satisfy all criteria and perform well against other people who have submitted an Expression of Interest will be invited to apply for a GSM visa.

SkillSelect is designed so that the Department of Immigration can select who can lodge an application for a GSM visa.

Specified Regional Area
(subclass 887 visa)

For a list of the relevant areas by post code, please click here.

Sponsorship undertakings under the Occupational Trainee visa subclass 442

The obligations for the sponsoring organisation are:
  • Cooperate with inspectors
  • Keep records
  • Provide records and information
  • Provide information to the department when certain events occur
  • Not recover certain costs from a sponsored applicant
  • Pay costs incurred by the Commonwealth to locate and remove an unlawful non-citizen
  • Ensure sponsored applicant works or participates in nominated occupation, program or activity
  • Secure an offer of a reasonable standard of accommodation

Sponsorship undertakings under the Temporary Business visa subclass 457

The obligations for the sponsoring organisation are:  

  • To cooperate with inspectors
  • To ensure equivalent terms and conditions of employment
  • To pay travel costs to enable sponsored persons to leave Australia
  • To pay costs incurred by the Commonwealth to locate and remove unlawful non-citizen
  • To keep records
  • To provide records and information to the Minister
  • To provide information to Immigration where certain events occur
  • To ensure primary sponsored person does not work in an occupation other than an approved occupation
  • Obligation not to recover certain costs from a primary sponsored person or secondary sponsored person

Unless otherwise stated on this website, this term includes persons living in a married or de facto or same sex relationship with one partner. It also includes persons who have registered their relationships under one of the State of Territory Relationship Registers. Spouses have a commitment to a shared life as spouses - whether or not they are legally married – to the exclusion of all others.

Student visa
Subclasses 560, 562, 563, 570, 571, 572, 573, 574, 575 and 576.

Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)   The TSMIT is the minimum salary amount a subclass 457 visa holder can be paid. It is set against current living costs in Australia to ensure that all Subclass 457 visa holders have sufficient income to independently provide for themselves in Australia.

The current TSMIT can be found at:   
Vocational English
Vocational English is a score of at least 5 on each of the 4 components of a General or Academic IELTS test. Applicants holding passports from UK, USA, Ireland, Canada and NZ are exempted.

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