An Australian Partner Visa allows the partner or spouse of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen to live in Australia.
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of placements for Partner Visas under Australia’s Migration Program has increased from around 37,000 in 2019/20 to 72,300 people in 2020/21 which bodes well for partner visa applicants as well as their partner-sponsors.
While this article provides a general overview of the partner visa process, it is important to keep in mind that any visa application is an intricate process, highly dependent on your individual situation and the documentary evidence you provide that is assessed against legislative requirements.
This article provides an overview of four things to know before applying for an Australian Partner Visa:
1. Determine your Australian Partner Visa category and subclass – ‘Partner’ or ‘Prospective Marriage’?
Although, there are three major types of Australian partner visas, most applicants will fall under one of these categories, either one of the Partner Visa subclasses; or, if you are engaged to be married, under one of the Prospective Marriage Visa subclasses.
Australian Partner Visa subclasses
The Subclass of Australian Partner Visa you apply for depends on your location at the time of application as Partner Visas can be lodged from inside Australia as well as outside of Australia.
Applying for an Australian Partner Visa when you are onshore (in Australia)
If you are in Australia with your partner, you are eligible to apply for one of these Australian Partner Visa subclasses: Partner Temporary Visa (Subclass 820); and eventually the Permanent visa (Subclass 801). The Subclass 820 visa is a temporary partner visa that allows you to live in Australia and is the first stage towards a permanent Partner Visa (Subclass 801). You apply for both visas at the same time and pay only one application charge. Applications are processed in two stages, about two years apart.
To be eligible for either of these Australian Partner Visas your partner must be an Australian citizen, or an Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen.
If you apply for the Temporary Visa (Subclass 820) and your relationship is assessed as a genuine ongoing relationship and you continue to be sponsored by your partner after two years of the granting of the temporary visa, you can then be granted a Permanent visa.
If one or both of you are outside Australia the relevant Australian Partner Visa subclasses are: Partner Temporary Visa (Subclass 309) and Permanent Visa (Subclass 100).
Again, you may apply for these visas to enter and stay in Australia if your partner is already an Australian citizen, or an Australian permanent resident; or an eligible New Zealand citizen.
Similar to the onshore Australian Partner Visas discussed above offshore applicant-couples seeking a Permanent Visa (Subclass 100) must demonstrate that theirs is a continuing and genuine relationship that has been continuous for two years following the granting of their Temporary Visa (Subclass 309).
Please note that from 27 February 2021, the Australian Government introduced a temporary concession for the ‘Offshore Visa Grant Requirement’ that usually applies to Subclass 309 Partner Visa applicants who are outside of Australia.
The Offshore Visa Grant requirement usually requires an applicant to be outside of Australia to have their Temporary Partner Visa granted. As it is difficult to depart Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the temporary concession allows Subclass 309 Partner Visa applicants to remain in Australia without having to fly out of the country to have their Temporary Partner Visa (the Subclass 309 Visa) granted.
Applying for an Australian Prospective Marriage Visa
The prospective marriage visa (subclass 300) is a temporary visa for those who want to enter Australia to join their future spouse before marriage.
To apply for this visa, your fiancé must be an Australian citizen, or an Australian permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen.
Once married, holders of this visa can then apply for one of the Australian Partner Visas discussed above to remain permanently in Australia.
2. General conditions of eligibility for any Australian Partner Visa
To apply for any of the Australian Partner Visas, you must:
- be 18 years old;
- meet the relationship criteria;
- meet health and character requirements;
- be sponsored by your partner/fiancé/fiancée; and
- repay (or have arrangements in place) to repay any outstanding debts owed to the Australian Government.
In addition to meeting these basic eligibility requirements it is important to remember that you will be assessed against relevant subclass legislative requirements depending on which visa subclass you have applied for.
3. Evidence required for Australian Partner Visa applications
Unless there are specific concerns, Immigration offices no longer conduct face-to-face interviews as part of the Partner visa process. Instead the success of your Australian Partner Visa application will depend upon any documentary evidence you submit in support of your application.
Australian Partner Visa applications generally require evidence that confirms dates of important events within your relationship, such as when you:
- first met
- started dating
- moved in together
- became engaged
A CMN tip is to create a relationship timeline which will also assist your relationship history statements.
Your relationship history statement is an opportunity to tell the story of your relationship. Make sure you include all key events in your relationship, any other significant moments, how you felt about each other then and now, and your plans for the future.
To support your relationship timeline and relationship history statement collect documents (e.g. bills in joint names, bank statements, plane tickets, holiday bookings) and media (ensure that you have plenty of photos, social media or videos of you as a couple as well as with friends and family). Keep this evidence safe and organised as this will go towards showing the genuineness of your relationship.
The Immigration case officer reviewing your Australian Partner Application may request further documentation or evidence. Such requests can be viewed on your immi.gov account and you will also be notified via email by the case officer. You should respond to any requests for further information should be within 28 days to keep your application progressing.
4. Understanding processing timeframes for Australian Partner Visas
The offshore COVID-19 concession notwithstanding, it is important to note that applying for a Partner Visa from Offshore (a Subclass 309/100 Visa) may involve being separated from your loved one for a long period of time.
The current Government processing time for a Subclass 309 Partner Visa is 18 to 23 months.
Applying for a Partner Visa from Onshore (a Subclass 820 or 801 Visa) also has a long processing time – currently 23 to 28 months.
However, the applicant can stay in Australia with their partner from the time of applying for the Partner Visa to the time it is granted.
Do you need help with an Australian Partner Visa?
Applying for an Australian Partner Visa can be complex and confusing to navigate on your own, and engaging expert immigration lawyers can be key to taking the stress out of the process and ensuring you maximise your chances of a successful visa outcome.
CMN has a team of experienced immigration lawyers who can help you determine which Australian Partner Visa Subclass is right for your situation; guide your application to get it ‘right’ the first time; and then support you through the process.
For help with your Australian Partner Visa application, or any other immigration matter, please contact our team on 1300 123 529, or via email.