Balance of family test

The balance-of-family test measures your family ties to Australia. To meet this test, either:

  • at least half of your children must live permanently in Australia
  • more of your children live permanently in Australia than in any one other country.

This requirement will not be waived, even in compelling or exceptional circumstances.

The following table gives examples of when a parent would and would not meet the balance-of-family test.

Total number of childrenNumber of children usually living in AustraliaNumber of children usually living in countries other than AustraliaMeets balance-of-family test
Country ACountry BCountry CCountry D

We do not assess the nature of your relationship with your children.

To be counted as living permanently in Australia, your children must be either:

  • Australian citizens
  • Australian permanent residents who usually live in Australia
  • eligible New Zealand citizens who usually live in Australia.

If your children are in Australia on a temporary visa, they are not counted as living permanently in Australia.

If you do not know where your children are, we consider they are in the country they were last known to live in.

Your and your partner's children, including stepchildren and adopted children, are counted in the balance-of-family test. They are not counted if they:

  • are deceased
  • have been removed from their parents' legal custody by adoption or court order
  • are registered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as refugees and live in a camp operated by the UNHCR
  • live in a country where they suffer persecution or human rights abuse and cannot be reunited with their parents in another country.

A stepchild is either:

  • your current partner’s child, or
  • under 18 years of age and the legal responsibility of you or your partner and is:
    • the child of your former partner, or
    • the child of a former partner of your current partner.

Stepchildren born from polygamous or concurrent relationships are not recognised in Australia and so they cannot be counted in the balance-of-family test.