Family Violence and Immigration

Posted on July 24, 2015 by Emily

In recent months the number of family violence cases has risen. ABC News reported that within the past 12 months Victoria alone has had an 8 per cent increase in the number of family incident cases, causing the number to rise to 69,442 cases in the past year.[1] With this number increasing daily it is important for women to understand all of their options, including migrant women.

Like all women, migrant women are at risk of family violence. However, it can be more complicated for them to appropriately deal with the issue due to their immigration status, religion and language barriers.

Immigrant women in Australia on a subclass 309 or 820 visa and who are experiencing family violence in the home must be aware that there are other options available to them. The subclass 820 visa allows the applicant the opportunity to live in Australia with their spouse or de facto partner.[2] If the relationship comes to an end while in Australia, the applicant must inform the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) of any changes in address, contact details and inform the department that the relationship has ended.[3]Once this has been completed the applicant may require the help of an immigration lawyer in order to ensure that the paperwork is completed correctly. The applicant must at that time be able to prove that their relationship was genuine until it ceased and that family violence took place during the relationship.[4]

Applicants must be aware that some visas include a “family violence provision”. This provision allows victims of family/domestic violence a pathway to gain permanent residence within Australia without having to remain in abusive relationships.

The common law now provides remedy for family violence characterized by psychological abuse. The Federal Court has held in Sok v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship[5], that ‘violence’ is to not be restricted to ‘actual or threatened physical violence’; the term ‘family violence’ is a term of art, and in a modern context, is accepted to include psychological and emotional abuse.

Women who are experiencing family violence should seek professional assistance from a competent professional such as a psychologist or social worker. The “family violence provisions” require that women who are victims of family violence should seek treatment from a competent professional. These competent professionals will then assess whether these women are victims of family violence, and if they are, they will support their claim by writing a report outlining the incidents of family violence which have occurred and their professional opinion on this.

Anne O’Donoghue has over 22 years of experience and is well equipped at dealing with sensitive matters including those involving family violence. Anne O’Donoghue and her legal team at Immigration Solutions Lawyers understands that in these situations, every moment counts and will do their best to obtain the positive outcome that is needed.

To read about our firm click here.

Click here to read about family violence and relationship break-downs.

Click here to read about one of our domestic violence cases.

Click here to find out which visas are eligible for the family violence provision.


[1] ABC News, Domestic violence, Stalking incidents increasing in Victoria, crime statistics shows (19 June 2015)

[2] Australian Government, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Partner Visa (Subclass 820, 801)

[3] Immigration and Domestic Violence, Your rights and Responsibilities, (February 2014)

[4] Australian Government, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Fact sheet- Family violence provisions,

[5] Sok v Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (2005) 144 FCR 170