The Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) have special rules about family violence and how it can affect applications for permanent residency.
If you have already put in an application for a visa, and you are a victim of family violence, you may still get permanent residency even if you separate from your partner.
What is relevant family violence?
If your partner has been violent, or has threatened violence towards:
a) you, or
b) a member of your family unit who is included in your application, or
c) a member of the family unit of your partner, or
d) your property, or the property of a member of your or your partner's family unit
that has caused you or a member your family unit to reasonably fear for, or to be reasonably apprehensive about, your or their personal safety or wellbeing it is family violence.
Do the family violence provisions apply to me?
See the Department of Home Affairs' Fact Sheet on the family violence provisions to see if you are eligible to apply.
How can I prove that I am a victim of family violence?
You need to have sought help about the family violence before the visa can be granted. You may have acceptable evidence that may be judicially (by a court) or non-judicially determined:
Acceptable judicially determined claims, being any one of the following:
- A Family Court injunction against your partner
- A final family violence restraining order (or if the final order was made in WA prior to the 1 July 2017, a family related violence restraining order) against your partner
- Your partner's criminal record showing violence against you or your dependants.
Acceptable non-judicially determined claims:
For people making their first family violence claim on or after 24 November 2012
- Both of the following:
- a statutory declaration using Form 1410- Statutory declaration for family violence or a generic statutory declaration completed by you setting out the allegation of family violence and naming the person alleged to have committed it, and
- at least two documents from the list in Schedule 1 of this legislative instrument. This type of evidence does not always have to be in the form of a statutory declaration.
- Evidence of a joint undertaking to a court by you and your spouse or partner that relates to an allegation before the court that the spouse or partner has committed an act of violence against you or your dependants.
"Competent persons" to make statutory declarations for you can be:
- Doctors who are registered in Australia
- Psychologists who are registered in Australia
- Nurses who are registered under section 3 of the Health Insurance Act 1973 (Cth)
- Social workers (have to be members of the Australian Association of Social Workers or recognised by that Association as eligible for membership)
- Family consultants employed by the Family Law Court of Australia or the Family Court of WA
- A manager or coordinator of a women's refuge or specialist family violence crisis and counselling service, or someone who has decision-making responsibility for a specialist family violence women's refuge and or men's crisis and counselling service, that has a collective decision-making structure, and responsibility for matters concerning family violence within the operations of that refuge or crisis service
- Child welfare and protection officers (if there is violence or abuse of a child).
In all of the above cases the competent person must be currently performing the duties of the profession or position in Australia.
For claims made at any time, where there are reasonable doubts regarding non-judicially determined claims of family violence, evidence supporting the claim may be referred for assessment by an independent expert. The independent expert will provide an opinion on the evidence provided (including an interview) as to whether or not family violence has or has not occurred. The information is provided to the independent expert on the understanding that it is to be treated in confidence.
Get legal advice.
Will I be interviewed by the Department?
Yes, you could be asked questions about your relationship such as:
- When and how did you meet each other?
- Do you have any children?
- What are your plans for the future?
- Who gets the meals in your household?
- Describe the house where you live.
You may also be asked to talk about the family violence. These questions are to try and check that your story is truthful.
Can I get compensation if I have been injured as a result of family violence?
If you have been injured or suffered loss as a result of a criminal offence, you may be able to claim a compensation payment from the government.
For more information see Compensation for victims of crime.
Where can I get more information?
- Contact the Multicultural Women's Advocacy Service on (08) 9227 8122 or (08) 9328 1200 for women and children from non-English speaking backgrounds. They can put you in touch with women's refuges, welfare and legal services.
- Contact the Department of Home Affairs on 131 881 (recorded information is available after hours) for a Fact Sheet on the family violence provisions. The electronic version of the fact sheet includes a link to the forms needed for statutory declarations. Family violence contact officers are located at Department offices. The immigration officers are experienced in handling applications from people seeking permanent residence on the grounds of family violence.
- Contact The Humanitarian Group on (08) 9227 7311 for assistance with spouse visas where family violence is involved.
- The Department of Human Services has produced a Family Safety Pack available in 46 languages. The pack aims to address violence against women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds by providing information about Australia's laws and a woman's right to be safe. The pack includes factsheets on domestic and family violence.
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Last reviewed: 11/01/2017