The partner visas Australia stream is designed for applicants who are either intending to marry, or who are already in a married or de facto relationship with, an Australian partner. An ‘Australian partner’ for this purpose means an Australian citizen or permanent resident visa holder, or an eligible New Zealand citizen. There are three options available in this visa category, all of which provide a pathway to permanent residence in Australia. These visa options are also available to applicants who are in same-sex relationships.
As part of partner visa Australia requirements for visa grant, your Australian partner must be approved as a sponsor on your application. Age requirements also apply.
The starting point in determining the class of partner visas Australia which you may qualify for is based on assessing the nature of your relationship with your Australian partner, and whether the application is to be lodged onshore or from outside Australia.
Married And De Facto Relationships
If you are married to, or are in a de facto relationship with, an Australian partner, and you are located onshore, you may consider whether you are eligible to apply for a Subclass 820/801 Partner visa.
If you are outside Australia, the equivalent offshore application is the Subclass 309/100 Partner visa.
How Do You Apply For A Partner Visa?
For both the onshore and offshore partner visa options, you are required to lodge a combined application for a temporary and permanent residence visa. At the first processing stage, you will be assessed for the temporary partner visa Australia only. If your application is successful and the visa is granted, you will be permitted to reside in Australia with your partner whilst you await a decision on the permanent partner visa Australia, which the Department will commence processing once 2 years have passed since lodgement of your application.
Apply In Australia
If you apply for an 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 Australia application. Note however, that if you hold a valid visa at that time, the bridging visa will generally only come into effect once your existing visa expires. As bridging visas are a complex area of the law, we would recommend that you seek further information and advice on your visa status and how the bridging visa will apply to you, based on your personal situation.
An important aspect of lodging an onshore partner visa application is to first ensure that you can validly lodge the application in Australia and that you meet time of application requirements for visa grant. Schedule 3 criteria prescribes additional requirements for the grant of the onshore partner visa in circumstances where you do not hold a substantive visa at the time of lodgement of your application (a substantive visa is any visa excluding a bridging visa, criminal justice or enforcement visa).
Apply Outside Australia
If you lodge an offshore partner visa application, you will be permitted to enter Australia upon grant of the subclass 309 temporary partner visa Australia. Given the extended processing times that normally apply, you might consider applying for another class of visa, such as a visitor visa, to enable you to visit your partner whilst you await a decision on the temporary partner visa application (provided you are eligible).
Upon grant of the offshore temporary partner residence visa, you can lawfully reside in Australia until your permanent partner visa Australia application is decided (this is the same for both the onshore and offshore applications).
Relationships which are classified as ‘long-term’ under the migration provisions are assessed for both the temporary and permanent residence visas at the first processing stage and are therefore fast-tracked by ‘skipping’ a step. That is, eligible applicants are granted the subclass 801 (for onshore applications) or subclass 100 (for offshore applications) permanent partner visa Australia.
A long-term relationship is one which has been in existence for a minimum period of:
- 3 years; or
- 2 years, where there is a dependent child of the relationship.
Spouse Or De Facto Partner
To qualify for a partner visas Australia, a key partner visa Australia requirements is that your relationship satisfies the relevant definition of either a ‘spouse’ or ‘de facto’ relationship in accordance with the migration provisions. Therefore, things may not be as clear-cut as one might anticipate and differences can arise in what is actually accepted for visa application purposes. For example, if you are applying on the basis of a ‘spouse’ relationship with your Australian partner, your marriage must be valid under Australian law. A marriage that took place outside Australia and which is recognised in an overseas jurisdiction will not necessarily be legally recognised in Australia.
Similarly, for a ‘de facto’ relationship, its ordinary common usage meaning, or how it is defined under other laws in Australia or overseas, may not necessarily equate with how it is defined under the Migration Act and Regulations. Assessing whether you satisfy either of these terms (depending on your personal situation) is one of the most important aspects of your partner visa application. The bulk of your application will consist of submitting evidence to support your claims that your relationship is genuine and that it satisfies the relevant meaning of either a spouse or de facto relationship under the migration provisions.
De facto relationships are also subject to additional eligibility requirements to qualify for a partner visa.
Engaged To Be Married
If you are intending to marry your Australian partner, you may consider applying for a Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage visa. This application must be lodged offshore.
A prospective marriage visa is a temporary visa which allows you to enter Australia to marry your Australian partner, and to apply for an onshore Partner subclass 820/801 visa within the visa period. The visa term will be 9 months from the date of grant. Unless the Minister prescribes a specific date, which may be between 9 and 15 months from the visa grant date.
The process following this stage is then the same as outlined above for married and de facto couples. Be mindful that as this visa pathway involves a 3-stage process, it can be quite a lengthy wait time until your reach the permanent residence stage. For the majority of the processing period, however, you will be able to reside in Australia with your partner as a temporary resident (as you can enter Australia once the prospective marriage visa is granted).
For a prospective marriage visa, among the key requirements for visa grant, you must demonstrate that:
- you genuinely intend to marry your Australian partner within the visa term;
- you genuinely intend to live together as spouses (which will have the same meaning as for the partner visa discussed above);
- you have met your prospective spouse in person since each turning 18 years of age; and
- you and your prospective spouse are known to each other personally.
You must submit specific documentary evidence confirming your intention to marry within the required period, in the form of a letter from your marriage celebrant, specifying the proposed date and the venue of the marriage ceremony, and confirming that you have lodged a Notice Of Intention to Marry (NOIM) with the celebrant.
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 and Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage 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 or Prospective Marriage 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.
So, Where To From Here?
If you are considering applying for a visa in the partner stream, a great starting point is our partner visa assessment tool. You can use this to help you to assess whether your relationship is up to immigration standards. We also recommend that you refer to our detailed guides below for a discussion on the specific partner visa Australia requirements, partner visa Australia cost, timing, how to apply and documents required for each of these visa subclasses.
Partner Visa Applications Are Complex
A common perception is that applying for a partner visas Australia should be, on the face of it, a relatively simple exercise. If you are in a relationship with an Australian, whether that be in a marriage or a de facto relationship, most people would think this should be reason enough to qualify for grant of a partner visa in Australia. But in reality, this is not always the case. Partner visa applications can be tough to get through.
The above discussion demonstrates the importance of conducting a careful and considered review and having an in-depth understanding of the relevant definitions under the migration provisions, valid visa lodgement and grant criteria, and the documentary requirements as they apply to your personal circumstances. Applying for a partner visa involves specific, detailed and complex concepts. Some explanatory materials which are required as part of this analysis are not publicly available, such as Immigration policy, a very important source of information as it provides a guideline as to how the Department interprets the migration provisions. Case law is another important element of the process in many cases.
Specific documentary evidence must be provided to the Department, to address each aspect of a partner visa application. Simply referring to the Immigration website will, in many cases, not provide you with all of the information you need, especially if you have a more complex case. Adding to the complexity is the increasing frequency with which changes are being made to the Migration Act and Regulations.
We recommend that you refer to our articles on articles on the Partner Visa Changes and Australia Partner Visa Changes for a discussion of changes that have been proposed to partner visas, which could have very significant ramifications for potential visa applicants. This demonstrates the importance of being 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.
How To Give Yourself The Best Chance Of A Successful Result
First, you must assess your eligibility for the relevant partner visa stream which you are interested in applying for. In addition to the information guides referred to above, we have prepared additional resources, which are available on our website, to help you to get a better understanding of the important issues to be aware of if you are considering applying for a visa in the partner visa stream. See the links to these articles below.
Just as important is being aware of the most common reasons for partner visas being refused, and the types of issues that case officers look for when processing a partner visa application. This allows you to pre-empt any potential problems arising and deal with them head-on at the visa lodgement stage. Waiting for the Department to request further information about any concerns that it may have with your application is not a strategy that we would recommend. It has no obligation to do so and can simply proceed to automatically refuse your application. It is therefore very important to address all relevant valid visa lodgement and grant requirements, as they apply to your particular circumstances, by providing thorough supporting evidence at time of lodgement of your application. Do not leave it to chance and risk a refusal.
One of the key aspects of meeting the definition of either a spouse or de facto relationship for the purposes of a partner visa application is to demonstrate that you and your Australian partner are in a genuine and continuing relationship as defined by the Migration Act and Regulations. Failing to adequately address this criterion is a common reason for partner visa applications being refused. Reviewing a practical example can help to explain how this works in practice. Please refer to our case study on Mario, whose partner visa had been refused on the grounds that he was not in a genuine married relationship with his wife, Mia.
How Can A Registered Migration Agent Help You?
A key aspect to be mindful of is that careful planning is required. Although it is always the case that you need to have a good understanding of the laws and regulations, you also need to anticipate any potential changes that could be coming.
The team of professionals at PAX Migration Australia have the knowledge, skills and qualifications to advise you on your options, and formulate a 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. Contact PAX Migration Australia to explore your options for a partner visa today, and avoid being caught out by changes that could be implemented at any time.
Why Choose PAX Migration Australia?
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:
For more information on what you can expect from PAX Migration Australia when you engage our services, including the process involved, please refer to the following articles:
Get More Information About The Partner And Prospective Marriage Visa
We have prepared a series of articles to provide further information about the partner and prospective marriage visa program and how it operates. Please see the links below for more information.
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In conclusion, given the highly complex nature of the migration laws, and the fact that every individual case is different, we strongly recommend that you book a consultation with an experienced migration agent, so that you are fully informed about the requirements that apply to the partner visa stream to ensure that you have the best chance of having a successful outcome.
We note that the above discussion provides an overview of some of the key issues to be aware of if you are considering applying for a visa in the partner stream. 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 prospective marriage and partner visa application process and eligibility requirements, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration advice service based in Adelaide.