Are you married, or in a de facto relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen? If you are looking to settle in Australia permanently with your partner, you may consider applying for a Partner Visa. Among the requirements to be satisfied for grant of the visa, your partner must sponsor you. Provided your partner visa sponsor is approved, you may qualify for a Partner Visa to Australia.

Alternatively, if you intend to marry an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen, you may be eligible for a Prospective Marriage Visa. This too requires sponsorship by your prospective spouse to qualify for grant of the visa.

Partner/Spouse Visa

The Partner Visa category comprises the following two visa subclasses:

  • Subclass 820/801 Partner visa (onshore); and
  • Subclass 309/100 Partner visa (offshore).

Both of these visa options provide a pathway to permanent residence via a two-stage process.

Stage One

The first step is to lodge a combined application for a temporary and permanent visa. Your spouse or de facto partner must also lodge a separate sponsorship application and submit specified documents to the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) to apply as your partner visa sponsor at this initial stage.

If you lodge your application onshore, you may remain in Australia whilst you await a decision on the temporary Subclass 820 Partner Visa.

If you apply offshore (the Subclass 309 Partner visa), you must await grant of the visa to enable you to enter Australia (unless you apply for another visa, such as a Visitor Visa, which will allow you to enter Australia in the intervening period. Be aware, however, that you need to be located offshore for the Subclass 309 visa to be granted).

Grant of the temporary visa will enable you to live, work and study in Australia temporarily whilst the Department processes your permanent residence visa application.

Stage Two

The next step (two years following lodgement of your application) requires you to provide further evidence to confirm that you remain in a married or de-facto relationship with your Australian partner visa sponsor, and that you are therefore eligible for grant of the permanent residence visa. Be aware that other criteria also apply at this second stage, including health and character requirements).

If your application is successful, you will be granted a permanent Subclass 801 Partner Visa (if you applied onshore), or a Subclass 100 Partner Visa (if you applied outside Australia).

Prospective Marriage Visa

If you are engaged to be married to your Australian partner, you may be eligible for a Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage Visa.

This visa option also provides a pathway to permanent residence; however, it comprises a three-stage process (one additional step to the Partner Visas discussed above).

The initial application for the temporary Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage Visa must be lodged offshore. If your application is successful, you will be permitted to travel to Australia to marry your Australian fiancé within a nine-month period.

Once you are married (within this timeframe), you may then apply for a Subclass 820/801 Partner Visa onshore.

For a summary of all three visa subclasses, we recommend that you refer to our article Overview – Partner Visa Australia.

Relationship With Your Partner Visa Sponsor

One of the most critical aspects of a Partner Visa application is your relationship with your sponsor for a partner visa. The definition of a relationship for this purpose may mean something different to its ordinary common usage, and it is therefore important to have a good understanding of what this definition entails to ensure that your relationship with your partner visa sponsor qualifies.

To illustrate, a de facto relationship is commonly understood to simply mean living with your partner. However, the definition as it applies to the Partner Visa is more complex than this and is based on several prescribed factors that need to be assessed. De facto relationships are also subject to additional eligibility requirements.

You can find more detailed information on applying for a Partner Visa as a de facto couple in our articles below:

Are you eligible to apply for a de facto partner visa in Australia

A Detailed Guide on De Facto Visa Application

Register your de facto relationship in South Australia

Similarly, just being married to your partner visa sponsor is not sufficient to meet the definition of spouse for Partner Visa application purposes. Again, specified elements must be considered apart from a Marriage Certificate, to determine whether your relationship qualifies for a Partner Visa. For example, one question that arises for marriages conducted overseas is whether the marriage is legally valid in Australia?

See our article on What are the requirements for a spouse visa in Australia for more information on applying for a Partner Visa as a married couple.

For the Prospective Marriage Visa, the relationship aspect is different to that which applies to the Partner Visa. Among the requirements to qualify for this visa, you must intend to marry a person who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen. You and your fiancé must also genuinely intend to live together as spouses.

See our article on the Prospective Marriage Visa for a comprehensive guide on how this visa works and the requirements as they apply to your relationship with your fiancé.

What Are The Partner Visa Sponsorship Requirements?

To qualify as a sponsor for Partner Visa, your Australian spouse or de facto partner must:

  • be at least 18 years of age (there are exceptions to this minimum age requirement for married couples in certain circumstances);
  • if requested to do so by the Department, supply police clearances for Australia and/or other countries (failure to provide the police check/s within a reasonable time may result in the refusal of sponsorship approval); and
  • provide consent to disclose to you, convictions for ‘relevant offences,’ which they have committed.

Be aware that for the Prospective Marriage Visa, both you and your fiancé must have turned 18 years of age to qualify.

Are There Any Limitations On Partner Visa Sponsorship?

Yes, sponsorship limitations apply as part of the partner visa sponsorship requirements.

Your spouse or de facto partner will be subject to the following partner visa sponsor limitations:

  • they can sponsor a maximum of two partners over their lifetime;
  • if they have previously sponsored another partner, they must wait at least five years since the date they lodged the previous sponsorship application, before they can sponsor you; and
  • if your partner has been granted a partner visa themselves, they can sponsor you only after five years have passed since they lodged their own visa application.

The above partner visa sponsorship limitations may be waived if compelling circumstances exist affecting the sponsor, which may include instances where:

  • you and your partner have a dependent child (who is dependent on each of you);
  • your partner’s previous partner has died;
  • your partner’s previous spouse abandoned them and there are children dependent on you, requiring care and support; or
  • the relationship between you and your partner is longstanding (for more than two years).

These sponsorship limitations also apply to the Prospective Marriage Visa.

Additional sponsorship limitations apply to Contributory Parent and Subclass 204 Woman at Risk visa holders.

Registrable Offences

If your partner has been charged with, or convicted of a ‘registrable offence,’ the sponsorship will be refused unless no conviction is recorded, it is set aside, or the application does not include a child under 18 years of age. Despite this, the Department may still approve the sponsorship if:

  • the sponsor completed the sentence imposed for the registrable offence (including any period of release under recognisance, parole, or licence) more than 5 years before the date of the application for approval of the sponsorship;
  • the sponsor has not been charged with a registrable offence since the sponsor completed that sentence; or the sponsor has been charged with a registrable offence since the sponsor completed that sentence, but the charge has been withdrawn, dismissed or otherwise disposed of without the recording of a conviction; and
  • there are compelling circumstances affecting the sponsor or the applicant.

Relevant Offences

If your partner has been convicted of a relevant offence, and they have a significant criminal record in relation to the relevant offence, the sponsorship will be refused.

The Department may, however, decide to approve the sponsorship if it considers it reasonable to do so, having regard to matters including the following:

  • the length of time since your partner completed the sentence for the relevant offence;
  • the best interests of:
  • any children of your partner;
  • any of you children;
  • the length of your relationship.

Partner Visa Sponsorship Obligations

As a partner visa sponsor, your spouse or de facto partner must agree to undertake prescribed obligations as part of the sponsorship application. These requirements stipulate that your sponsor for a partner visa must assist you, to the extent necessary, financially and in relation to accommodation, for the following period:

  • if you are lodging your Partner Visa application in Australia – during the two-year period immediately following the grant of your temporary Subclass 820 Partner Visa; and
  • if you are applying offshore – during the two years immediately following your first entry into Australia after grant of your temporary Subclass 309 Partner Visa.

Failure to comply with these sponsorship visa partner obligations may result in the cancellation of your Partner Visa. It is therefore very important that your partner visa sponsor is fully informed about their obligations and agrees to comply with them prior to lodging the sponsorship application.

Get More Information

For further information on partner visa sponsorship, please see the following articles:

How to be approved as a partner visa sponsor?

Sponsoring a family member might be easier than you think

Partner Visa Sponsor Requirements

You can read about a real-life example of how PAX Migration Australia was able to assist a client to Lift the Sponsorship Bar by appealing a decision to refuse a Partner Visa application by demonstrating that compelling circumstances affecting the sponsor existed.

We have also prepared a series of informative guides on the Partner and Prospective Marriage Visas, which you can find below:

How to bring your wife to Australia on a genuine partner visa

Overview of Onshore Australian Partner Visa Schedule 3

Major Changes Ahead for Partner Visas

Why partner visa applications are so tough

What case officers look for in a partner visa application?

Bridging visas for partner visa applicants

What evidence should I provide?

Can a man get Australian PR if his wife is Australian

Top 5 reasons why partner visas are refused

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