Immigration status and family violence

Family violence is not acceptable in Australia. If you or a family member have experienced family violence, you and your family do not have to stay in a violent relationship to stay in Australia. There are special rules about how the Department of Home Affairs (Immigration and Citizenship) deal with specific visas in situations of family violence, called the family violence rules. 

Quick Answers video: Family violence and immigration
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This information will help you to understand how family violence is taken into account by the Department of Home Affairs when they make decisions about visas. Find out:

  • what family violence is
  • when the family violence rules apply
  • what evidence of family violence you need to provide, and
  • whether you may be interviewed about your visa application.

When do the family violence rules apply?

You may still be granted a visa if you or a family member have experienced family violence, and your relationship has ended, and one of the following apply:

  • you have married your partner while on a Prospective Marriage visa and you have applied for a Partner visa, or
  • you are awaiting the outcome of your application for a temporary Partner visa, or 
  • you have been granted a temporary Partner visa, or
  • you have entered Australia on a temporary Partner visa.

You will need to provide the Department of Home Affairs with evidence that there has been family violence.

More information about when the family violence rules apply is available on the Department of Home Affairs website.

What is ‘family violence’ under the family violence rules?

Family violence is any behaviour that makes you reasonably fear for your safety and wellbeing. This includes both actual or threatened behaviour towards:

  • you or your property
  • a member of your family or their property, or
  • a member of your former partner’s family or their property.

Family violence is not just physical abuse or harm. It can also include psychological abuse or harm, forced sexual relations, forced isolation, controlling money and dowry-related abuse. 

What evidence of family violence do I need to provide?

You can provide the Department of Home Affairs with one of the following from a court: 

  • a Family Violence Restraining Order made against your former partner protecting you or a member of your family, or
  • a Family Court injunction against your former partner made in relation to family violence, or
  • a document which shows the court has convicted your former partner of assaulting you or your dependent, or
  • a document which shows the court has recorded a finding of guilt against your former partner for assaulting your or your dependent.

If you do not have any of the above documents from a court, you will need to provide a statutory declaration with details of the family violence, and naming the person who was responsible for the violence. You will also need to provide with the statutory declaration at least two documents from professional people. For example, a medical report or a witness statement made to the police. 

You can find a complete list of the different types of documents and the details which must be provided in each of the documents from the Department of Home Affairs website. 

Will I be interviewed for my application?

If you have not provided evidence from a court of the family violence, the Department of Home Affairs may ask for an independent expert to assess your case. The expert has special experience in situations of family violence and is not part of the Department of Home Affairs. The expert may need to meet with you. They will make a recommendation about whether your evidence of family violence should be accepted. The Department of Home Affairs must follow that recommendation.

Where can I get help?

Many community legal centres offer services for people experiencing or at risk of family violence. For immigration advice and assistance, including help lodging a visa application, you must use a migration agent who is registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority, who has an online database of registered migration agents. 

The Humanitarian Group (now part of Circle Green Community Legal) offers legal assistance with immigration matters, including citizenship, visa cancellations, amendment of government records and bridging visas.

More information

You can find more information about the family violence rules and visas on the Department of Home Affairs website, including:

 

Reviewed: 6 May 2020

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.