If you want to apply for a visa to join your child to live in Australia, you will have to pass the Balance of Family Test.

This test is one of the most important requirements, which is never waived. It proves how many links you have to Australia, based on the number of children you have living there. While it can sound a little confusing, and maybe over-the-top, it is Australia’s way of restricting entry only to those who have very tight links to the country.

What Visas Need the Balance of Family Test?

You must pass the Balance of Family Test when you apply for all of the following visa types:

  • Parent Visa (Subclass 103). With this type of visa, you can move to your children in Australia permanently, where you can study, work, and even enroll under Australian healthcare. This type of visa leads to Australian citizenship, provided that you meet all other requirements.
  • Contributory Parent Temporary Visa (Subclass 173). The 173 Visa allows you to live with your child in Australia for up to two years, during which time you can work and study there, but will receive no government benefits other than enrolling in Australia’s public healthcare scheme. If you want to become a permanent resident, the 173 visa can be turned into a permanent 143 Parent Visa.
  • Contributory Parent Visa Permanent (Subclass 143). Similar to the 103 Visa, this visa also allows you to join your child/children in Australia permanently and gives you access to Australian healthcare, workforce, and schooling, but you must initially hold a 170 (Temporary) Visa in order to apply. It is a path to citizenship, if you meet all requirements.
  • Aged Parent Visa (Subclass 804). To receive this visa, you must be of retirement age in Australia (at least 66 years and 6 months) and have Assurance of Support from your child. It allows you to live in Australia permanently, and even apply for citizenship.
  • Contributory Aged Parent Visas (Subclass 884 and 864):
    • Contributory Aged Parent Temporary Visa (Subclass 884). This is a temporary visa, which is valid for two years. It is the first step in receiving an 864 Visa, which is permanent. With this visa, you can live, work, and study in Australia but you must turn it into a permanent visa in order to receive Australian healthcare and eventually become a citizen.
    • Contributory Aged Parent Visa (Subclass 864). This is a permanent visa, which you can apply for only after you receive your 884 Temporary Visa. It allows you to live, work, study and receive public healthcare benefits in Australia and (provided you meet all requirements) apply for Australian citizenship.

You do not need to pass the Balance of Family Test when applying for the Australia Sponsored Parent Visa (Subclass 870) because this is only a temporary visitor visa, which cannot be directly turned into a permanent one.

What Is the Balance of Family Test?

The Balance of Family Test is used to determine whether a parent meets the requirements to join a child living in Australia. The criteria is mainly based on the number of “eligible children” who are settled in Australia. As such, as a parent, you meet the balance of family test if:

  • You have more children living in Australia than in any other country.
    • If you have more than two children, and they each live in a different country, you do not pass the test.
  • Your children are eligible to sponsor you.

Considering it can be confusing to try and make sense of how the Australian Immigration Authorities calculate eligibility based on residence of the children, they have issued a handy table of examples to make the concept easier to grasp:

Number of children in totalNumber of children living in AustraliaNumber of children living in country ANumber of children living in country BNumber of children living in country CNumber of children living in country DDo they pass the test?
One childOne----Yes
Two childrenOneOne---Yes
Three childrenOneTwo---No
OneOneOne--No
Four childrenTwoTwo---Yes
OneOneOneOne-No
OneTwoOne--No
Five childrenOneOneOneOneOneNo
TwoOneOneOne-Yes
ThreeTwo---Yes
Six childrenTwoTwoTwo--No

This table was originally published on the official website of the Immigration Authorities of the Australian Department of Home Affairs.

Which Children Can Sponsor Parents to Australia?

To pass the Balance of Family Test and sponsor you to Australia, your children must be in one of the following categories:

  • Biological children.
  • Adopted children.
  • Stepchildren with your current partner.
  • Stepchildren with a previous partner who is under 18 years of age, and over whom you have custody or guardianship.

Who Is an “Eligible” Child?

To be ”eligible” to sponsor you in Australia and pass the Balance of Family Test, your child must be one of the following:

  • An Australian citizen.
  • An Australian permanent resident.
  • An eligible New Zealand citizen, living in Australia. You are an eligible New Zealand citizen if:
    • You were in Australia on 26 February 2001 and had a special category visa (SCV).
    • During the two years immediately before 26 February 2001, you had been in Australia for at least 12 months and returned to Australia afterward.
    • You were a protected SCV holder before 26 February 2001.

Balance of Family Test Proof

To prove the number of children in a family and whether they pass the Balance of Family Test, Australian Immigration will ask you to provide birth certificates and family registration certificates. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may also be asked to provide additional documentation.

Do You Need a Balance of Family Test for Stepchildren?

Yes, if you have stepchildren living in Australia and you wish to join them there, you will have to pass the Balance of Family Test.

Can You Get a Balance of Family Test Waiver?

No, you cannot. The Balance of Family Test is not waived under any circumstances, no matter how exceptional they are.

There are a few instances, however, when you do not need to include all your children in the assessment.

Balance of Family Test Exceptions

To pass the Balance of Family Test, all your children have to be accounted for during the “calculation” procedure. However, there are some rare exceptions when the Immigration Authorities do not count a child when assessing your balance of family, as follows:

  • If you had exclusive custody of your child, which was later removed by order of a court.
  • If your child lives in a country where they are under persecution or suffer human rights abuse, and you and your child cannot be reunited in another country.
  • If your child is a refugee in a refugee camp.

Naturally, the Department of Home Affairs will confirm whether the claims are accurate by checking available databases such as CISNET and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).