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Can I move my relatives from the Philippines to Australia?


Australian family visas for Filipino relatives migrating from the Philippines to Australia


This is a solid dream of many Filipino families (your wife’s relatives from the Philippines) who are leading a tough life! If your wife could only migrate those relatives to Australia (or the US, UK or basically any other affluent country) then everything would be OK from now on. A work visa or a parent visa or some sort of family visa from the Philippines to Australia! A visa for her parents, or cousins or siblings. And Filipino society is very entangled with the sense of debt (known as “utang”….expect to see me using this word quite a few times), which good people are expected to repay to other good people in return for favors given over their lives. The question arises: What Family Visas are available from the Philippines to Australia for Filipino relatives?

Who does your average Filipino owe the biggest debt to? Their parents, for bringing them into the world and feeding and educating them! This is closely followed by any auntie or uncle or cousin or sibling who helped them out along the way. Older sister who paid for their college fees? She’s on the list! She marries Glen from Goondiwindi? She is expected to share her good fortune!

And don’t be under any delusion! Parent/aunt/sister etc will do anything from dropping a few hints to blatantly in-your-face telling her she owes them and that they want to come to Australia and expect her to make it happen! Stories, books, movies, TV shows and even classroom lessons often include stories of ungrateful and shameless young Filipinos who forget their duty to repay their utang (there’s that word again)! And this probably makes up up 50% of the neighborhood gossip! 

And Filipino society is NOT like Australian culture! What other people think and say matters! It matters to the recipient and it matters to the relatives of the recipient.

So…..somewhere along the way don’t be too surprised if your Filipina wife or de facto partner doesn’t start discussing how nice it would be to move mum to Australia, or to find a job and a visa for her older sister! 

Don’t get mad at her! Unless your relationship is dreadfully shallow this does not mean automatically that this is a migration scam with you as the sucker. It means she’s a product of her culture, and finds it hard to enjoy “the good life” knowing that her family isn’t!

How do I know this? Well, apart from having my first experiences with Filipino culture back in the 1990’s and living here 14 years, I’m also a Registered Migration Agent and I have clients every week asking me about helping mum and cousin Maribeth to come to Australia, either as a visit (which may in theory lead to something more) or permanently.


Australian Family Visas and Filipino Family Members


The US is what Filipinos know best about the rest of the world! It’s them, plus the US, plus a few other countries who hover around the US in envy! They were conquered and colonized by the Americans for many decades, and the US had bases here up until only a few years back. Look at photos of Manila in the 1950’s and 60’s! US uniforms everywhere!

And those who migrate to the US have the ability to “petition” relatives because they are relatives. No, I don’t know the ins and outs of American migration law. But yes given enough years and work a US-resident Filipina can bring her parents and quite a few siblings and other relatives to settle there. 

So there lies the precedent, and (assuming that the US sets the standard for the rest of the world in everything) your average Filipino assumes it’s the same thing. So they email me saying “Now she’s settled in Australia she wants to bring her sister over” and I have to say “She can’t!”

Because no… it does NOT work like that in Australia! There are no inherent “rights” to bring relatives to join you, no matter how much you may miss them or how much the pang on unrequited utang may hurt!


Family Visas and Australia


Firstly? There ARE no “family visas” on the books. 

Secondly? There ARE no “family visas” on the books!

You cannot bring just any relative from the Philippines to Australia BECAUSE they are your relative and you want them there. Whether you are an Australian Citizen by birth or a Permanent Resident by way of a Partner Visa or any other type of visa, you do not have the right to bring anyone you want into the country. The Government decides who will and who will not enter Australia, whether that’s permanently or even as a tourist on a Tourist Visa!

Yes, written in the Australian Constitution. The Commonwealth Government in Canberra decides who does or who does not enter Australia for any reason at all. No one enters Australia without a visa, except Australian Citizens (and a few diplomatic exceptions). Everyone else needs a visa, and they need to be qualified for that visa. (And no they are NOT picking on Filipino visa applicants. Same rule applies to even Americans!)


Is there such a thing as an Australian Family Visa?


Sort of, yes! But limited!

There are:


Parent Visas


You know when the Government is discouraging visa types! It’s when the queue becomes very long! The cheap parent visa? 29 years processing time! The expensive one? 12 years processing time!

There is a TEMPORARY PARENT VISA for stays of 3 years or 5 years. That one is alive and well, and if you want mum or dad (or both) to stay for an extended period, please CLICK and get an assessment!

Otherwise? Long term? Think about it! Spend $60,000.00 on a visa application for 65 year old mum, and she waits 12 years? AND you still need to pay health insurance because she NEVER gets Medicare or any sort of pension! Think carefully! A 5 year visit which you can repeat (once only!) is a good deal.


Child Visas


Yes if you have a dependent child……DEPENDENT and STILL A CHILD….most likely we can help you, We do a lot of these.



  • Adult children who are REALLY no longer dependent, ie
    • They gave up studying
    • They work and can support themselves
    • They are married or living de facto
  • Your neighbor’s child who lives with you
  • Your niece or nephew
  • A child that you falsely claimed was yours on a birth certificate*

*ie do NOT late-register a child as your own, or get your sister to give birth and pretend this is your own child. You will get caught and you may even end up in trouble with the police!


There are TWO options:


Dependent Child Visa


This is when the parent holds a Temporary Partner Visa (ie the first stage of an Offshore Partner Visa OR Onshore Partner Visa) and wants to include the dependent child in their Permanent Partner Visa (ie the LAST stage of the Partner Visa process). 


Child Visa


This is a permanent visa for the dependent child of a Permanent Resident (ANY permanent visa) OR the dependent child of an Australian Citizen.

Again, no options for the child of your poor neighbor or your sisters child whom you’ve raised as your own. Not for informal adoptions or for helping out a relative whom you have utang to! Don’t even think of it!

If you want to bring your kids? CLICK and we can discuss it.


Remaining Relative Visa or Carer Visa


I won’t discuss the ins and outs or pros and cons! These are still on the books, but effectively dead in the water! 7 years processing time average for the Carer Visa and 24 years average for the Remaining Relative Visa. They appear to be being phased out, so I’ll say no more about them.


Tourist Visas


This is a short-term option, definitely. And to give mum or “Utang Auntie” a treat by giving them a holiday in Australia, it will probably go a long way to appeasing the need to return the favor and make your wife AND the relative happy. 

Just be aware that while it’s usually achievable to bring an older relative like mum or grandma to Australia on a Tourist Visa, younger relatives of working age……especially those who are unemployed, or not very well paid, or those with no assets? Not easy! In fact a very high risk of refusal.


Because MOST overstayers were assisted by family members to overstay! Seriously! Many are prepared to pay back utang by helping them to overstay in Australia and to work unlawfully (ie illegally) so they can make what is for them a large amount of money to set themselves up back home when they are eventually caught!

You’re saying “Not me! I wouldn’t do that! I’ll make sure they’ll leave in time!” Sorry but those who break the rules don’t have signs around their necks. They don’t know who will do it, so they get tough on the most likely candidates. 52 year old mum with grandkids is highly unlikely to run off, but 24 year old brother could and maybe would!

So think carefully before you try to help out younger relatives in this way. Older relatives? Usually good prospects, and those Filipina ladies in Australia who’ve just given birth (or are about to give birth) will normally really appreciate having mum about. 

CLICK here if you want to discuss Tourist Visas for Filipino relatives!



Free online visa assessment form from Down Under Visa



Jeff Harvie is a Registered Migration Agent from Australia, but resident in Philippines since 2010 with his Filipina wife Mila and large extended family. Experienced with the Philippines culture, cross-cultural relationships and bureaucracy as well as Australian visas and Australian Migration Law, he writes with authority and fortunately with enough informality and humour that the average Aussie gets it! Down Under Visa specialises in visas for Australians in relationships with ladies and gents from Philippines, Thailand, China and Vietnam. Read MORE


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