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How can I bring my refugee family here?

You can ask to bring family to Australia through the refugee and humanitarian migration program if:

  • YOU are a permanent resident or Australian citizen
  • is outside their home country (unless you make a ‘split family’ application) and
  • have no other country where they can live permanently.

We tell you what a ‘split family’ application is on page 11 of this brochure.


Get identity documents and photos

You need:

  • One passport style photograph of each family member overseas.
  • Certified copies of any identity documents your family has.

For example:

  • Passports
  • Birth certificates
  • Identity cards
  • Citizenship documents
  • Marriage certificates
  • Death certificates

A certified copy means that a lawyer or another person who is authorised must look at the original document and then write on the photocopied document that it is a true copy. Documents can be certified overseas or in Australia.

Documents that are not in English need to be translated. Documents can be translated overseas or in Australia.

If a family member has no documents, they need to explain why they don’t have any documents. They might have lost them, or had them stolen, or maybe they were never issued any documents in their own country.

If your family is registered with an organisation like the UNHCR, Red Cross, Red Crescent, or International Organisation for Migration (IOM), you should get a copy of that registration as well.


Fill out the forms to apply for a visa

The forms you need are:

Form Who should sign it

Form 842 Your family overseas

Form 681 You - or if your family has a closer relative who is an Australian permanent resident or Australian citizen, that person. (The law calls you a ‘proposer’).

You can get these forms from:



Do not use old forms.

You must complete the forms in English. If your family writes their answers in their own language you must have the answers translated.

Send the application and documents to:

Special Humanitarian Processing Centre

GPO Box 9984 SYDNEY NSW 2001


Get each adult family member to write a statement

The written statement is the story of the problems your family had in their home country, what they are afraid of in their country, and why they are afraid.

It may seem obvious why they would not be safe. But it is important to give details because the Department of Home Affairs uses the statement to work out how quickly to decide the application.

They should write the statement in their own language and then get it translated into English.

The statements should say:

What problems they had in their country

  • When the problems started (the first time they had problems or suffered harm)
  • What happened to them
  • How they were harmed
  • Did they ask for help from the authorities or police in their country? If they didn’t ask for help, why not?

The statements must give detailed descriptions of names, places and times.

What they are afraid would happen if they went back to their own country

This part of the statement is very important, particularly if they have been outside their country for a few years. It is important that the Department of Home Affairs understands why they would be at risk of harm if they returned.

They must describe every different type of possible harm that could happen to them in the future.

If they fear more than one thing happening, they must describe each thing that might happen.

This is a very important part of their statement. If they don’t tell Immigration what will happen to them if they go back to their own country in lots of detail it makes it hard to get a visa.

Who will harm them

Your family must give details of all the people they think will harm them. For example, if they fear harm from:

  • a militant or religious group, they need to say the name of the group.
  • individuals, they need to say their names.
  • a few different groups or individuals, they should name all of them.

Why they will be harmed

The statements also need to say why these people will want to harm them. They should say if the reasons they will be harmed are because of their nationality, ethnicity, religion, political opinion or some other reason.


Get everything checked by a lawyer

Get an immigration lawyer to check your forms before you send them to the Department of Home Affairs. The lawyer can also give you free and private legal advice, and some help with visa applications for your family.

We tell you on page 15 where you can go to see a lawyer.


Make copies of all your documents

Keep a copy of the application and all the documents that go with it.


Apply for the visa

Send the application and documents to:

Special Humanitarian Processing Centre

GPO Box 9984 SYDNEY NSW 2001

You can also apply for this visa online.

Go to www.immi.homeaffairs.gov.au

Follow the instructions to complete the online application form and upload your completed forms, documents and photographs. Then click the ‘Submit’ button.

If you have any problems doing this email SHP.enquiries@homeaffairs.gov.au


  • Step 1 Get identity documents and photos
  • Step 2 Fill out the forms to apply for a visa
  • Step 3 Get each adult family member to write a statement
  • Step 4 Get everything checked by a lawyer
  • Step 5 Make copies of all your documents
  • Step 6 Apply for a visa by post or online

What is a ‘split family’ application?

You can ask to bring your husband, wife, partner or children (or if you are under 18, your parents) to Australia through the refugee and humanitarian migration program if:

  1. You were given a refugee, humanitarian or permanent protection visa in the last five years and
  2. Your husband, wife, partner, children, or parent (if you’re under 18) are still living in their home country, or living outside their home country.

This is called a ‘split family’ application.

To apply for this type of visa:

  • you must have told the Department of Home Affairs about your family before you got your visa
  • you use the same forms (681 and 842), but you need to say it is a ‘split family’ application on the Form 842.

Other things to know

How much will it cost?

There is no application fee for a visa. If your family get a visa, you will have to pay for the airplane tickets.

What will happen when the Department of Home Affairs gets the application?

They will send you a letter saying they have the application and will give you a file number too.

If you don’t get a letter within a month, send an email to shp.enquiries@homeaffairs.gov.au asking what is happening with the application.

How long will it take?

Applications can take many years.

Will my family get a visa?

Not everyone will get a visa. The Government only gives a limited number of visas each year. Your family might not get a visa. Ask a lawyer if there are other ways to bring your family to Australia.

If you are worried about how long it is taking

You can:

  • ask the Department of Home Affairs if the application is still in Australia or if they have sent it to the embassy nearest to your family for interviews and health checks.
  • contact your local Federal Member of Parliament (MP) if it has been more than 12 months since you sent the forms. You can look up your local MP by putting in the postcode where you live at www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Members

You will need to tell the Department of Home Affairs if anything changes

If any answers to the questions you gave on the forms change, you need to tell the Department of Home Affairs.

Some changes might be if:

  • you or your family change address
  • someone has a baby, or
  • your family receive new threats from people or groups who wish to harm them.

Important! You should talk with an immigration lawyer before you use this information if:

  • you came to Australia by boat
  • you hold an 866 visa
  • your family have rights to live in another country
  • your family have been refused a visa before, or
  • you want to make a ‘split family’ application and you were given a permanent protection visa in Australia.

You can find out where you can see a lawyer below.

Where can I see a lawyer?

You can see a Legal Aid lawyer for free by making an appointment at:

Refugee Service 8713 6725

Fairfield Legal Aid 9727 3777

Bankstown Legal Aid 9707 4555

Central Sydney Legal Aid 9219 5790

Auburn Diversity Services 8737 5500

Blacktown SydWest Multicultural Services 9621 6633

Western Sydney Migrant Resource Centre, Liverpool 8778 1200

If you need an interpreter, call 13 14 50, ask for the language you want and then give them the number. This is a free service.

You can also try:

The Immigration Advice and Rights Centre 8234 0700

What to bring to your appointment?

  • Drivers Licence
  • Centrelink Health Care Card or Pension Card
  • NSW Photo Identity Card, or
  • Passport, ImmiCard or Travel Document
  • Any letters from the Department of Home Affairs

Please also bring these documents to be checked:

  • Form 842
  • Form 681
  • Your family’s statements
  • All documents

If you need to cancel your appointment

If you can’t come to the appointment, contact the office to let us know as soon as you can.

Where can I get more information?

You can get more information about Australia’s refugee and humanitarian program at www.homeaffairs.gov.au.

This publication is a general guide to the law. You should not rely on it as legal advice. Also, other types of visa applications may be better in your particular situation, for example, family visas (this includes partner and child visas). We recommend that you talk to a lawyer about your situation.

The information is correct at the time of printing. However it may change.

For more information contact LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529.

Order brochures online at www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/publications or email publications@legalaid.nsw.gov.au

Do you need an interpreter?

If you need help to talk to us in your language, call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450 (9am–5pm). This is a free service.

Do you find it hard to hear or speak?

If you find it hard to hear or speak:

call us through the National Relay Service on 133 677 or www.relayservice.gov.au or call LawAccess NSW on 1300 889 529

C Copyright Legal Aid NSW AUGUST 2019