What does ‘dependent’ mean for visa purposes?

There is a wide range of visa types that permit the main applicant to include members of their family unit as part of their application.

However, who may be included is dependent upon the type of visa applied for. While some are limited to a spouse and dependent children, others may provide avenues to sponsor parents and members of the less-immediate family.

One word that appears often throughout the legislation is ‘dependent’ – especially in relation to a child.

Where members of the family unit can be included in a visa application, ‘dependent’ children are generally children of the main applicant (including step-children and adopted children) who:

  • Are under the age of 18, or
  • Aged between 18 and 22, but practically dependent upon the main applicant (including financially), or
  • Aged 23 or over, but are unable to earn a living to support themselves due to physical or cognitive limitations and are dependent upon the main applicant or their partner (who is also included in the application).

Furthermore, some visas require that the child included in the application has never been married or in a de facto relationship.