If you are in a de facto relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen, and you would like to settle in Australia permanently with your partner, you may consider applying for a Partner Visa. You can apply for a partner visa onshore (subclass 820/801 visa) or from outside Australia (subclass 309/100).
In this article, we begin our discussion by taking a look at the de facto visa Australia cost.
We then explore how the de facto partner visa application process works, the eligibility requirements to qualify for a de facto partner visa and how to demonstrate to the Department that your de facto relationship meets the relevant migration provisions.
And finally, we conclude with a look at how long the process can take to become a permanent resident in Australia under the de facto parther visa pathway, as well as the impending changes to the de facto partner visa process and how this will affect applications lodged once these changes are enacted.
What Is The Cost To Apply For A De Facto Partner Visa?
Lets start off by exploring the current de facto visa Australia cost, as set out in the table below. Be aware that these fees are subject to change and you should confirm the de facto visa cost that will apply to your application before you lodge. The fees can also vary, depending on your individual circumstances. Below is the most common scenario to give you an idea of the de facto visa Australia cost you can expect.
|Application lodgement fees – Main Applicant
|Application lodgement fees – Additional Applicant
|Subclass 820/801 visa (onshore)
|Over 18: $3,930
Under 18: $1,965
|Subclass 309/100 visa (offshore)
|Over 18: $3,930
Under 18: $1,965
The visa application charge for the de facto partner visa is payable in one instalment at time of application lodgement (note that for some visa subclasses, a second instalment is payable before the visa can be granted).
A payment surcharge may also be applied, with the percentage rate depending on the method you use to pay.
Note that an ‘additional applicant’ refers to cases where another person is included in the application, for example, a child.
Other Fees And Charges
You are also likely to incur other costs, in addition to the visa lodgement fee, as part of the application. The amount will depend on your individual circumstances.
Additional costs can include the following:
Health examinations, and where issues are identified, specialist fees and any associated additional costs may be payable.
Medical examinations/tests are carried out in Australia by Bupa Medical Visa Services.
Costs of examinations undertaken outside Australia can vary, depending on the country where the medicals are being conducted. There may also be additional costs if further tests or couriers are required.
The costs and requirements for meeting the character requirements will depend on which country you apply for.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) issues National Police Clearance (NPC) certificate for character checks in Australia.
Information on how to apply for a police clearance outside Australia can be accessed by searching for the relevant Immigration overseas office.
Document Translation Costs
Translating documents where originals are not in English will also incur a fee. The amount payable will depend on the service provider selected.
Note the above is not an exhaustive list and you may incur additional costs that are specific to your case.
If you engage a professional to provide you with immigration advice and assistance, such as a migration agent or immigration lawyer, you will incur professional fees for their service. These will be confirmed to you before you agree to proceed with their services.
How Does The De Facto Partner Visa Work?
Next, we take a look at what is involved in the de facto partner visa process.
The de facto partner visa application involves a two-stage process, whereby you are first required to lodge a combined application for a temporary and permanent visa. If your application is successful, you will be granted a temporary visa in the first instance, which will allow you to reside in Australia temporarily whilst you await processing of your permanent residence visa application.
Then, two years following lodgement of your partner visa application, the Department will commence processing your permanent residence visa application. You will be required to submit specified supporting evidence confirming that you remain in a de facto relationship with your Australian partner. If the outcome of your application is successful, you will be granted permanent residence in Australia.
For certain de facto relationships, a permanent residence visa is granted at the first stage. To meet this requirement, you must be in a long-term relationship (as defined in the migration provisions) with your Australian de facto partner at time of application lodgement.
What About For Married and Prospective Marriage Relationships?
The partner visa class discussed above is also available to married couples.
For applicants who are engaged to be married to their Australian partner, a Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage visa is available, which too provides a pathway to permanent residence in Australia. Although in this case, there are three stages in the application process (rather than two).
How Do You Qualify For A De Facto Partner Visa
To be eligible for a de facto partner visa in Australia, you will need to meet specified valid visa lodgement and grant criteria. One of the most important aspects of the partner visa application involves assessing whether your relationship meets the prescribed definition of a de facto relationship in accordance with the migration provisions. It is important to note that the meaning of a de facto relationship for this purpose will not necessary equate with the ordinary usage of this term or how it is defined in other laws or countries, for example. The bulk of your visa application will then essentially consist of providing specified information and documents in support of your claim that your relationship meets this definition. Qualifying for the permanent residence visa will also require you to continue to gather and compile evidence of your relationship throughout the application process (i.e. from temporary to permanent residence visa stage). Other criteria, such as health and character requirements, must also be met for a successful application.
Check your eligibility for a de facto partner visa by using our partner visa assessment calculator.
Visa Options For De Facto Relationships
Lets now explore in more detail the visa options that are available to de facto partner visa applicants.
The de facto partner visa class consists of the following two options:
Subclass 820/801 Partner Visa
You must be located in Australia at time of lodgement of the Subclass 820 partner visa /Subclass 801 partner visa application and the application must be lodged online. You are also required to be onshore at the time of grant of the temporary subclass 820 visa.
When you apply for the onshore partner visa, you will be granted a bridging visa, which will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia whilst you await processing of your subclass 820 temporary partner visa application.
You may be located either in Australia or offshore for grant of the permanent subclass 801 visa.
Subclass 309/100 Partner Visa
The Subclass 309 partner visa /Subclass 100 partner visa partner visa application is an offshore application to be lodged online. You must also be outside Australia for the temporary subclass 309 visa to be granted.
You may be located either in Australia or offshore for grant of the permanent subclass 100 visa.
Onshore Visa Grants Due To COVID-19 Travel Restrictions
An exemption has be introduced to allow for the onshore grant of the Subclass 309 Partner visa for applicants who are in Australia and are not able to travel offshore to be granted their visa due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
This temporary change to the visa grant requirements commenced on 27 February 2021.
This means that If you applied for a Partner visa outside Australia before the end of the COVID-19 concession period, but you are in Australia during this period, you can be granted the relevant visa onshore if you meet all other visa requirements.
Applicants who is outside Australia and who meets the normal visa grant requirements will be able to be granted the visa offshore, in accordance with the current process.
The COVID-19 concession period commenced on 1 February 2020 and is a temporary arrangement. An end date is yet to be announced.
Applicants who come to Australia after the end of the COVID-19 concession period will not be able to be granted their visa whilst they are onshore, in line with the usual requirements.
If you have been in a de facto relationship with your Australian partner for at least 3 years (or 2 years where there is a dependent child of the relationship), the process will be quicker as you will be granted a permanent residence visa at the first stage (i.e. you essentially ‘skip’ the temporary visa step and progress straight through to permanent residence).
What Are The Requirements To Qualify For Grant Of A De Facto Partner Visa?
The following key criteria must be satisfied to qualify for grant of a de facto partner visa:
- Both you and your partner must be at least 18 years of age;
- You must be in a de-facto relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen;
- You must be sponsored by your partner (be aware that certain individuals are prohibited from being approved as a sponsor);
- Your partner must meet a character requirement (this will require that they provide specified police checks as part of the application); and
- You must also meet health and character requirements.
If you are applying onshore (subclass 820/801) and you do not hold a substantive visa at the time of application lodgement, you must also satisfy Schedule 3 criteria.
What Is The Meaning Of A De Facto Relationship?
The migration provisions define a de facto relationship as one where all the following elements exist:
- You and your partner have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others;
- Your relationship is genuine and continuing;
- You and your partner live together, or you do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis; and
- You and your partner are not related by family.
The above definition is one of the most critical aspects of your de facto partner visa application as it forms the primary basis for determining whether you are eligible for grant of a de facto partner visa. Preparing your application for lodgement essentially involves gathering supporting evidence to address specific aspects of this definition, to confirm to Immigration that you are eligible for a partner visa.
As a de facto couple, you must also meet additional requirements for grant of a de facto partner visa (which do not apply to married couples).
How Do You Prove To The Department That You Meet The Definition Of A De Facto Relationship?
In assessing whether your de-facto relationship meets the prescribed definition above, the Department will examine the following aspects of your relationship:
- Financial – joint ownership of major assets, joint liabilities, pooling of your financial assets, etc.
- Social – is your relationship recognised by others as being genuine, do you jointly take part in social events and travel/other activities, etc.
- Household – your living arrangements, household duties (e.g. cooking, cleaning, etc.), and providing care and support for children, etc.
- Nature of your commitment – the length/history of your relationship, do you intend to be in a committed, long-term and exclusive de-facto relationship, how have you maintained contact for any periods spent living apart.
You must ensure that you provide supporting documentary evidence with your application addressing each of the above four aspects of your relationship. If you are unable to provide evidence to address any one of these elements, provide appropriate explanations and/or documents to explain why this is the case. The Department recognises that each relationship is different and that there will be cases where not all of these relationship aspects will be present (for example, you may not be living together due to religious or cultural reasons, or due to work commitments). Immigration will consider your individual circumstances when deciding your application, and it is therefore crucial that you provide all relevant documents at time of lodgement. If there are gaps in information and/or documents which you supply, the Department has no obligation to follow this up with you. It can automatically proceed to refuse your application.
To make your application as strong as possible, it can also help to be aware of what Immigration case officers look for in partner visa applications in terms of potential risk factors, as these may result in more scrutiny being applied in deciding individual partner visa applications, and consequently, result in potential processing delays and/or refusal of an application. The most common reasons for partner visa applications being refused is also a valuable piece of information to be aware of, as it allows you to better prepare your application, addressing any potential risk areas, and to anticipate issues arising.
We have also prepared a detailed guide on de facto visa applications which further discusses the eligibility criteria to meet the partner visa grant requirements.
How Long Does the De Facto Partner Visa Application Process Take?
Given the lengthy processing times currently being experienced in processing partner visa applications, you should be prepared for a relatively significant wait time until you reach the permanent residence grant stage (provided you satisfy all specified requirements). Based on current average processing times for de facto partner visa applications, you can expect to wait up to approximately 3-4 years (note that these processing times are subject to change).
Major Changes Ahead
It is also important to note that significant changes to how the partner visa application process operates are imminent, with the Government having recently passed a legislative bill which is currently awaiting royal assent and proclamation. This new law, once it comes into effect, will require sponsorship approval as a prerequisite for lodgement of a de facto partner visa application (whereas under the current system, sponsorship and visa approval occur concurrently).
This change means that visa applicants will no longer be able to determine the date when they can apply for a de facto partner visa (as it will depend on when the sponsorship is approved). How long this process will take is unknown and will therefore require careful planning of your de facto partner visa pathway. Given the added complexity involved in a de facto partner visa application as a result of these changes, having the right information is now even more crucial to maximise your chances of a successful outcome and to avoid a potential refusal. We therefore highly recommend that you seek professional immigration advice.
New English Language Test Announced For De Facto Partner Visas
The Government has also announced that it will be introducing a new requirement for partner visa applicants and their permanent resident sponsors to have functional English, or to demonstrate that they have made reasonable efforts to learn English.
One way this can be demonstrated is by completing 500 hours of free English language classes through the Adult Migration English Program (AMEP). The Government has since removed the previous limitations on migrants‘ access to free English language classes under this program, allowing access to as many hours as needed to achieve vocational English.
Exemptions will be available to those holding a USA, Canada, UK, NZ or Irish passport and to those who can demonstrate education in English.
The changes will also not apply to relationships defined as ‘long-term,’ which means at the time of lodgement of the first stage application, the applicant and their Australian partner have been in a married or de facto relationship for at least 3 years (or 2 years if there is a dependent child). In both cases, the permanent visa is granted immediately.
These changes will be implemented from late 2021 and will apply at the time of grant of the permanent visa (i.e. the second stage, usually after two years following lodgement of the visa application).
Indications at this stage are that it will be a very basic English test, and at a much lower standard than that required to qualify for a skilled visa. Additionally, as this requirement will only apply at the second stage of application processing, it will not delay stage one processing and thereby not affect the ability of couples being united.
You can read more about this announcement in the media release, dated 6 October 2020, by Former Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, The Hon Alan Tudge MP.
Get More Information About The De Facto Partner Visa
We have prepared a series of articles to provide further information about the de facto relationship visa program and how it works. We recommend you refer to the links below for more information.
We also recommend that you refer to our articles on articles on the Partner Visa Changes and Australia Partner Visa Changes for a more detailed discussion of the changes that have been proposed to partner visas, which could have very significant implications for potential de facto partner visa applicants. This demonstrates just how vital it is to be fully equipped with the latest information, combined with extensive experience in migration law, to give yourself the best chance of achieving a successful outcome on your application.
De Facto Partner Visa Applications Can Be Complex
It is important to point out that de facto partner visa applications are often not a simple and straight-forward process. They can involve quite complex issues and also require you to provide detailed and comprehensive personal information and documents to prove that you qualify for a partner visa (including from third parties such as friends and family). This can be confronting for many people, especially having to ‘prove’ to the Department that your relationship is genuine. Being prepared for this upfront can help to make the process easier as you will know what to expect. This article aims to help by providing an overview of the eligibility requirements that you will need to meet to qualify for grant of a de facto partner visa in Australia. Being armed with the right information is key to a successful application.
PAX Migration Australia Can Help
The team of experts at PAX Migration Australia have the knowledge, skills and qualifications to advise you on your options, and formulate a de facto partner visa pathway to help you to achieve your migration goals in Australia.
As part of the service, your registered migration agent will provide you with tailored advice that is prepared specifically for you, based on your individual situation, your goals and needs.
They will explain in a clear and easy-to-understand way how the process works, so that you are equipped with the latest and most up-to-date information to help maximise your chances of achieving a sucessful outcome on your application. Knowledge is key.
To learn more about why you should consider speaking with PAX Migration Australia, reviews and testimonials from our clients about what they think about us, and why obtaining professional assistance and advice from a migration agent can be beneficial in achieving a positive outcome on your migration matter, please refer to the following articles:
* * * * * * * * * * * *
In conclusion, we note that the above discussion provides an overview of the de facto partner visa, including the de facto visa cost, eligibility requirements that you will need to meet to qualify for grant of a de facto partner visa in Australia, as well as the process involved. Australia’s migrations laws are complex, and each case is different. We have also referred to several terms which are defined in the migration provisions (and whose meanings may differ from their ordinary usage). We recommend that you seek professional advice before you proceed with applying for any visa class, as being fully informed about the process and requirements that apply will give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome on your application, and thus lessen the chance that it will be refused. A migration professional can help you to do this.
For up to date advice on the de facto visa Australia cost, de facto partner visa process and eligibility requirements, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading migration agent based in Adelaide.
Australian Government – The Hon Alan Tudge MP – Former Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs – Media release – Monday, 30 November 2020 – Further changes to support Family visa applicants
Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and citizenship – Visas – Getting a visa – Explanation of application charges – Fees and charges for visas – Surcharges
Bupa Medical Visa Services
Australian Federal Police – What We Do – Services – Police/Criminal history checks – National Police Checks
Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and citizenship – Help and support – Offices and locations – Offices outside Australia
Australian Government – The Hon Alan Tudge MP – Former Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs – Joint media release with Minister Dutton – Tuesday, 06 October 2020 – Securing and Uniting Australia as part of the Government’s economic recovery plan