Partner visas: Part 1

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The focus of my last article was the Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300) that may be appropriate for you if you are at least 18 years of age, in a relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident and you intend to come to Australia to marry your partner.

However, there may be other partner visa options which are better suited to your circumstance. For example, if you are in a de facto relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident (or an “eligible New Zealand Citizen”) and do not have any intention of getting married, the partner visa may be more appropriate for you. Similarly, if you are married to an Australian citizen or permanent resident and wish to come to Australia to live the partner visa may be a more appropriate visa option to consider.

The partner visa is made up of two stages: the temporary visa (subclass 820 or 309) and the permanent visa (subclass 801 or 100). Generally, the temporary stage is for two years and then you become eligible for the permanent stage two years after the date you lodged your original application (not the date that the temporary visa was approved).

When you make a partner visa application you are making an application for both subclasses at the same time, which is why the application is often referred to as the 820/801 or 309/100. When you lodge the temporary application and pay the application fee, there is no further government application fee to be paid when you become eligible for the permanent visa stage. There are certain circumstances in which your application may be processed direct to the permanent stage.

Processing times can be lengthy for partner visas as they are one of the most popular permanent visas to Australia. Currently, although the Department of Immigration’s website states that processing times vary from 6-9 months for applications lodged in Australia and 5-12 months for applications lodged outside Australia, it is not uncommon in my experience for applications lodged inside Australia to take in excess of 13 months to process. This is really just something to be aware of when planning your timelines. There are ways to facilitate faster processing (decision ready applications)—we can help you with this.

When approved, a temporary partner visa does not have an expiry date as it is valid until a decision is made on your permanent visa. To be sure that the Department of Immigration can locate you and advise you that you are eligible for the permanent stage, it is imperative that you keep your contact details up to date with the Department of Immigration.

Partner visa requirements

Firstly, the partner visa requires that your partner (the Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or “eligible New Zealand citizen”) act as your sponsor. This means that your partner must sign a declaration agreeing to financially support you during your stay in Australia, if needed. In most cases, the sponsor can only sponsor a maximum of two people for a partner visa in their lifetime, and these sponsorships must be at least five years apart. There are other prohibitions in place for sponsors which can be complex, so it is a good idea to discuss your situation with a migration professional.

The key eligibility criteria for a partner visa include that you must not be related to your partner by family and be able to show that your relationship is “genuine and continuing to the exclusion of all others.” That is, to show that you are in a genuine long-term relationship with your partner and that you are committed to a shared life together excluding all others.

If you are applying from inside Australia, you must hold a current substantive visa to be able to apply for a partner visa. Even if you are inside Australia and have had a visa refused since your last entry and you are “section 48 barred,” you may still be able to apply for a partner visa. (See further information in an article written by my colleague Ivanna Cheng via this link.) But keep in mind: “Onshore” applications can be very complex if you do not understand the detail. If this applies to you, I strongly suggest obtaining professional advice.

Evidence that the Department of Immigration are looking for to evidence the genuine nature of your relationship generally fall into the following four categories:

  • the nature of the commitment between you and your partner
  • the social nature of your relationship
  • the financial aspects of your relationship
  • the nature of your shared household

There are requirements in terms of the length of time that you have been in a relationship with your partner and living together under the same roof depending on whether you are married or in a de facto relationship.

This length of time may be waived in certain circumstances; for example, if there is a prohibition on you and your partner living together for documented cultural or religious reasons.

As stated at the beginning of this article, there are a lot of things to understand about partner visas. This article provides you an introduction to some of the basics. In my next article, I will explore some further detail, including:

  • Married applicant’s information
  • “De facto” applicant’s information
  • What happens if the relationship breaks down?
  • Health and character requirements
  • Onshore applicants and bridging visas

Would you like to know if you qualify for a Partner Visa?

You can start the process by taking a free online assessment here.

I hope that the information here has been useful if you are considering whether a Partner visa is suitable for your situation. If you have found this article helpful, please share it. You can read the Part 2 of my entry here where we look at some of the details of partner visas.

I look forward to an opportunity to assist you with your visa application in the future.

Esther Taft
Migration Advisor
MARN 1276126

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John Bell

Migration Advisor at National Visas
John Bell has been involved in the immigration industry since 2000 and has practiced in Australia as an Australian Registered Migration Agent since 2003. John also worked in the UK as a UK immigration adviser between 2000 and 2002.

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