The Refugee Program and SHP have “split family” provisions which allow humanitarian visa holders to sponsor immediate their family members (i.e. their partner and dependent children or, if the proposer is an unaccompanied minor, their parents) for resettlement in Australia.
Generally, visas for immediate family members are granted in the same category as the proposer’s visa. For example, immediate family members of a proposer who was resettled in Australia on a Refugee Visa (subclass 200) will also be granted a Refugee visa. The main exception is Protection Visa holders, whose immediate family members will be granted an SHP visa.
Until recently, applications for SHP visas lodged by refugees and humanitarian entrants sponsoring immediate family members under the “split family” provisions did not have to satisfy all of the “compelling reasons” criteria. The only criterion considered was the extent of the applicant’s connection to Australia. Under changes introduced in September 2012, all Protection and Resolution of Status visa holders who arrived before 13 August 2012 (excluding unaccompanied minors) and who are seeking to sponsor immediate family members under the “split family” provisions of the SHP will now have to meet all of the “compelling reasons” criteria.
Applying for offshore visas
Information on applying for offshore humanitarian visas, including forms and eligibility requirements, can be found on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website.
After an application is lodged, an acknowledgment of receipt will be sent to the applicant (and, in the case of 202 visas, the proposer). Applications that are assessed as eligible for further processing are referred for interview and further assessment. All refugee and humanitarian applicants referred for further processing are required to be interviewed by an Australian immigration officer.
Applicants and their dependent family members must meet health and character requirements in order to be granted a visa for Australia.