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Bringing family with you on an Australian student visa

Can international students bring family or dependants with them to Australia? Use this guide to find out about the visa rules for international students 

    Manuela Seiberth's avatar

    Manuela Seiberth

    Founder and director of Auspire Immigration Australia
    October 23 2023
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    What are the requirements for a student visa in Australia?

    A student visa is a temporary visa that allows students to stay in Australia for the length of their course. There are a broad range of courses that students can choose to study in Australia and it’s important to choose a CRICOS-accredited course. CRICOS stands for Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students.

    Students are also able to include family members when they are applying for their student visa as long as they are your partner, a dependant (child under 18) or your partners dependant. 

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    Once you have the confirmation of enrolment from your chosen university or education provider for the relevant course, you can prepare the visa application.

    One of the most important factors of the application is the genuine temporary entrant (GTE) criterion. It includes a written statement in which you need to demonstrate that you and your family do not intend to stay in Australia beyond your student visa.

    You also have to meet English language prerequisites as well as financial requirements. You need to have enough money that is genuinely available to you to pay for your course fees and travel and living costs for you and your accompanying family members while you are in Australia.

    The 12-month living cost is:

    • Student: AUD$21,041

    • Partner/spouse: AUD$7,362

    • Child: AUD$3,152

    Alternatively, you can show proof of an annual income. The current benchmark is A$62,222 for single people or A$72,592 for families.

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    What are the rules for bringing family as an international student?

    When applying for a student visa, the main applicant can include family members (partners and children) in the application. Once the visa is approved, the whole family can migrate together to Australia.

    Alternatively, if your family members are joining you after you start university, you can apply for a subsequent entrant visa. Some families make the decision for the main applicant to migrate first and organise the basics, eg, finding a place to live, securing work, selecting schools for the children etc. The family can follow afterwards on subsequent entrant visas.

    What needs to be considered is the “one fails all fail” rule. For most visas, applicants need to prove that they are of good character and good health, including dependants. Should one family member fail the character or medical tests, all other family members will be refused as well.

    Do I have work rights as an international student?

    Most student visa holders are allowed to work 40 hours per fortnight while the course is in session. During holidays this is extended to full-time work rights for the main visa holder. The dependant partner is allowed to work part time.

    Only if you study a master’s by research or a doctoral degree do the main visa holder and partner get full-time work rights.

    Which family members count as dependants?

    Under Australian immigration law, partners both married and de facto, as well as children, are seen as dependants and are as such members of the family unit. Couples need to prove that they have been in an ongoing and committed relationship to the exclusion of all others for at least 12 months.

    Once you have gained permanent residency in Australia, you can sponsor other family members such as parents.

    What are the costs/timings involved?

    The visa application charges for a student visa is AUD$710 unless you are exempt.

    Additional fees apply if you engage a professional migration service to assist you.

    The processing time for student visas is about three to five months.

    Can I stay in Australia after I graduate?

    For many students the student visa is the starting point of their migration journey in Australia. It provides opportunities to benefit from a world-renowned education system, build networks and foster your career.

    There are various ways you can extend your stay after you have completed your course. Subject to your eligibility, you could apply for a postgraduate visa, skilled visa or work visa.

    How do I start the application process?

    The application process for most Australian visas is online, including student visas. Applicants can create an online ImmiAccount on the Australian government website. 

    Remember, migration laws in Australia are constantly evolving and so it is important to check all the key information before starting your application. 

    This article was first published in August 2021. It was updated in October 2023 by THE Student editor Seeta Bhardwa. 



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