Sunday the 18th October 2015
Volume 385

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Examining the Balance of Family Test 
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Passing the BoF test will depend upon many factors regarding your children

By Amy Kim
Migration Agent
Australian Immigration Law Services

When applying for a Parent Visa it is essential that the Balance of Family (BoF) criteria is met. The BoF test primarily focuses upon the numeric distribution and geographical location of the children of the applicant and the applicant's partner.   

The Immigration department justifies the existence of the BoF criteria by stating, "the limited number of parent visas that can be granted in each Migration Program year necessitates prioritisation of eligibility for parent visas to be given only to parents who have close ties to Australia".

In other words they do not want any extra old people than we already have so they want to make a barrier to limit the potential intake.
The BoF test is designed purely as a numbers game. It does not care about cultural aspects of who is responsible for looking after the parents or indeed how close individual family members are to their parents.  
In essence the test can be met if at least half of the parent's children and step-children are what is called "eligible children" or there are more "eligible children" than children living in any other single country.
The DIBP define the eligibility of children as those who are;
Australian citizens, or Australian permanent residents usually resident in Australia; or eligible New Zealand citizens usually resident in Australia.
It does not matter where Australian citizens live as there is no residential requirement that they must be in Australia to be counted. However the "usual resident" requirement in Australia must be met by Australian Permanent residents and Eligible NZ citizens.
The issue of the children living in other countries is of critical importance. For example, a parent may have 7 children but only three live in Australia. The other 4 children however are spread out across the globe and each of them live in separate countries. This means the BoF test will be met. A simple reference table can be viewed to assist you in deciding if this test can be met for your family.
All children who are not Australian citizens must demonstrate:
lawful and permanent residence, termed "usual residence". This residential requirements of the children must be met at the time the application was lodged. In cases if the Parent was in Australia at the time of lodgment then when a case officer is allocated some time later, this residential requirement no longer needs to be satisfied. However if the Parent is offshore, then when a case officer is allocated the residential requirements still need to be met.
What is Lawful and permanent residence?
The DIBP needs to be sure that the eligible children who are permanent residents or eligible NZ Citizens intend to reside in Australia indefinitely. From their perspective the mere physical presence of a child in Australia does not mean they are considered as permanently residing here.
A child could spend periods outside Australia, (for example on holidays, business or employment) and still be assessed as usually resident in Australia. However if they have only spent a short time in Australia then it is likely the DIBP will request further evidence to demonstrate their "intention". This would normally involve providing evidence of bank accounts, drivers licence, significant purchases or perhaps even attending English classes.
Where a person stays in Australia only casually or intermittently they would not normally be assessed as "usually resident" in Australia.
Ineligible children
Children who do not meet the "eligible" criteria listed above will be considered as ineligible and taken to be residing overseas for the calculation of the BoF test. For example, a child on a Student visa or another type of a temporary visa and residing in Australia would be counted as an ineligible child for the BoF test.
If the child's whereabouts are unknown, the child is taken to be resident in the child's last known country of usual residence overseas. The child is believed to be in Australia but it is not known where they are, then they too are ineligible.
Ineligible children are taken to be resident overseas, normally in their last known country or usual residence or, alternatively, their country of citizenship.
Which children are counted in the BoF test?
According to the law, children counted for the purpose of the balance of family test include all children and step-children of the parent or the parent's spouse or de-facto partner.
It is not necessary to demonstrate the nature of the relationship for children are counted regardless of what type of relationship they have or may not have. This means it does not matter if they are dependent, self supporting or perhaps even institutionalised. There are a few exceptions but they will not be covered in this article.
To prove the relationship between Parents and the children, normally evidence is provided by the applicant(s) such as full birth certificates or family books that give details of parents and all children. The DIBP will cross check this information with any data they have on their records. At the very least they will compare information provided by the sponsoring child's earlier application for permanent residence to see if all the siblings are also declared in the Parent application.
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