The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide a general overview of the subclass 300 visa and matters which you will need to address should you seek to apply for this visa. It focuses on the more common scenarios that normally arise for prospective marriage visa applicants and therefore does not cover all possible options or scenarios. It is also beyond the scope of this discussion to provide a detailed description of all applicable factors you will need to consider. We therefore strongly recommend if you are considering applying for the subclass 300 visa, that you make the proper further enquiries to ensure that you are fully informed about your eligibility, the application process and the documentary evidence requirements that apply before you lodge your application. This will give you the best chance of a successful outcome and potentially avoid unnecessary processing delays or a potential visa refusal. Getting it right the first time also means you avoid the loss of valuable time and money that comes with a visa refusal decision.

The prospective marriage visa application condition

If you are planning to marry an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen, and you are located offshore, you may consider applying for a prospective marriage visa as a potential pathway to permanent residence in Australia.
The subclass 300 visa, also commonly known as a fiancé visa, is a temporary visa which, if granted, will allow you to travel to Australia to marry your partner within the 9-month visa period. After marrying your partner, it is intended that you will then apply for an onshore partner visa (which must be lodged before the subclass 300 visa expires).

How to file your application for the visa subclass 300?

The onshore partner visa application involves a 2-step process, whereby you are required to lodge a combined application for a temporary visa (subclass 820) and a permanent visa (subclass 801 visa) at the same time. You will first be assessed for the temporary subclass 820 visa and, if granted, it will allow you to continue to reside in Australia whilst Immigration processes your application for permanent residence.
Two years following lodgement of your combined subclass 820/801 partner visa application, you will be assessed for the subclass 801 visa. If your application is successful, you will be granted permanent residence in Australia. As part of the assessment of your subclass 801 visa application, Immigration will confirm whether you continue to meet the visa grant requirements for the partner visa. One important aspect of this assessment is whether you remain in a married relationship with your Australian partner.

The subclass 300 prospective marriage visa application must be lodged when you are offshore, and you must also be outside Australia at the time of grant.

For grant of the subclass 820 temporary partner visa and the subclass 801 permanent partner visa, you may be located either in or outside Australia.

The 300 visa process to permanent residency

The prospective marriage visa pathway is, therefore, a 3-stage process to permanent residence, comprising the following steps:
Step 1: You first need to lodge a prospective marriage subclass 300 visa application, which, if granted, will allow you to travel to and reside in Australia for a period of up to 9 months to marry your Australian partner.
Step 2: Once you have married your partner (within the 9-month visa period), you are then expected to lodge a combined application for an onshore partner subclass 820/801 visa.
Step 3: Two years following lodgement of your combined subclass 820/801 visa application, the Department will assess whether you continue to satisfy the requirements for a grant of the subclass 801 visa, with a successful application resulting in a grant of permanent residence in Australia.

Are you eligible to apply for the subclass 300 visa?

You will need to satisfy the following visa grant requirements at the time of lodgement:

You must be aged 18 years or older
You must intend to marry an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen
You must be sponsored by your prospective spouse (note that certain individuals are prohibited from being approved as a sponsor)
Your partner must be aged 18 or older
You must have met your partner in person (after you each turned 18) and be known to each other personally
You must genuinely intend to marry your partner within 9 months of visa grant
There must be no legal impediment to the marriage in Australia (this could occur, for example, if either you or your prospective spouse have previously been married and the divorce is deemed not valid under Australian law)
You must genuinely intend to live together as spouses
Your prospective spouse must meet a ‘character’ requirement and provide police clearances as evidence that this condition is satisfied
You must meet health and character requirements

Intention to marry your Australian partner

A key requirement for visa grant is that you must genuinely intend to marry your Australian partner within the 9-month visa period.
You are required to provide evidence documenting that arrangements have been made for the marriage ceremony to take place after your first entry to Australia. This evidence must be in the form of a signed and dated letter (on letterhead) from the authorised marriage celebrant who will be conducting the ceremony, confirming the date and venue of your marriage ceremony.
Under Australian law, if you wish to marry in Australia, you must lodge a Notice of Intention to Marry (NOIM) with the marriage celebrant who will be conducting the ceremony. The NOIM must be lodged no less than 1 month and no more than 18 months before the proposed date of the ceremony and is valid for up to 18 months. As part of your subclass 300 visa application, you should also provide confirmation that you have lodged a NOIM with your marriage celebrant.
Note that there is no requirement for you to marry your partner in Australia. If you intend to marry overseas, you must still enter Australia within the 9-month visa period before you marry. Thereafter you can depart Australia to marry overseas. You must then re-enter Australia within the 9-month visa period and apply for the combined subclass 820/801 onshore partner visa. Note that your overseas marriage must be legally valid in Australia.
If you marry your Australian partner before a decision is made on the application, you will no longer be eligible for the prospective marriage visa. In this case, you will need to take the appropriate steps to notify Immigration of your change in circumstances, withdraw your application and re-apply for a new visa subclass. Otherwise, your subclass 300 visa application will be refused.

Intention to live together as spouses

You and your Australian partner must have a genuine intention to live together as spouses once you are married. Under the migration provisions, as a married couple, you must meet the following requirements:

Your marriage must be legally valid in Australia (this is relevant in cases where the marriage takes place overseas)
You and your partner have a mutual commitment to a shared life as a married couple to the exclusion of all others
Your relationship is genuine and continuing; and
You either live together, or you do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis

The Department will also consider the following aspects of your relationship in assessing whether you intend to live together as spouses once you are married:

Financial (joint ownership of major assets, e.g. property, joint financial responsibilities and/or pooling of your financial resources)
Social (is your relationship known to third parties, e.g. to family and friends?)
Household (shared domestic responsibilities in your household, and organising your daily lives together)
Nature of your commitment to one another (do you intend to be in a committed, long-term and exclusive married or de-facto relationship?)

Note that the Department recognises that for cultural and/or religious reasons, a couple who are intending to marry will not always be able to provide evidence in support of the above relationship aspects (or not all of them). Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, having regard to the circumstances as they apply to each individual application. Immigration will consider the above factors, as far as is practicable, in making its assessment.

How can you apply for the subclass 300 visa?

It is important to ensure that you lodge your application in the correct matter, in accordance with visa lodgement requirements. If you fail to do so, your application will be deemed to be invalid and you will need to re-apply.
You must be located outside Australia at the time of lodgement, with your application form and documents to be submitted online. The Department will use the online portal to correspond with you in relation to your application, and you can use it to notify of any change to your circumstances, etc. If a migration agent or immigration lawyer assists you with your application, they will manage this process for you.
Your Australian partner is also required to lodge a sponsorship form and submit specified documents via the same online system.

The type of evidence to be provided includes the following:

Identity documents (e.g. passport and birth certificate)
Character documents (e.g. police clearances)

Relationship evidence documents:

Evidence that you will marry your partner within 9 months of visa grant (letter from your marriage celebrant and confirmation of lodgement of your NOIM – see discussion above)
At least two Form 888’s (these are statutory declarations provided by your supporting witnesses attesting that your relationship is genuine)
Evidence that you and your partner have met face-to-face as adults since turning 18 and know each other personally
Evidence that you and your partner genuinely intend to live together as spouses
Written statements about your relationship for both yourself and your partner, covering the history and development of your relationship, when you became engaged, joint activities, significant events in your relationship and your future plans together as spouses (these statements can be in the form of statutory declarations).
When preparing your relationship documents, keep in mind the definitions outlined above in this article (i.e. how a spousal relationship is defined under the migration provisions and the relationship aspects that are also noted, as the Department will consider these factors as far as is practicable in assessing whether you genuinely intend to live together as spouses).

How much will it cost to apply for a subclass 300 visa?

The current application fees for lodging a subclass 300 visa application are listed in the table below. Note that these fees can change, and you should check the costs that will apply in your case before proceeding with lodgement.

A payment surcharge may also apply, with the percentage rate payable depending on the method used for payment.
Note that an ‘additional applicant’ refers to cases where another person is included in the application, for example, a child.
You should also factor in the costs for lodging the onshore partner visa application if you are considering applying under the prospective marriage visa pathway. The current application fees for the combined subclass 820/801 visa are the same as for the subclass 300 visa (as noted above) however note that these costs can vary, depending on your individual circumstances.

This means that, based on current fees, you will likely incur the above fees twice:

When you lodge your prospective marriage visa application (subclass 300); and
When you lodge your onshore partner visa application (subclass 820/801).

Therefore, applying under the prospective marriage visa pathway will result in a minimum financial outlay of $14,320 (excluding any applicable surcharges) for a single main applicant, based on the current fees structure.

Other expected costs

You should also be prepared to incur other costs, in addition to the visa lodgement fee, as part of the application process. These additional costs will depend on your individual circumstances and may include the following:

Medical examinations, specialist fees and associated costs where issues are identified
Character checks (costs and requirements will depend on the county for which you apply)
Translating original documents where they are not in English

The above is not an exhaustive list and you may incur other costs that are specific to your case.

If you engage a migration agent or immigration lawyer to assist you with your application, a fee will be payable for their services. This will be confirmed with you prior to the commencement of your service agreement.

Again, be mindful that these costs may be incurred more than once, to meet visa grant requirements for the following:
Subclass 300 visa;
Subclass 820 visa; and
Subclass 801 visa.

Some documents expire after 12 months (e.g. police clearances and health examinations), whereas others can be used more than once as evidence that you have satisfied visa grant requirements. These will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

How long will it take for a decision to be made on your subclass 300 application?

The current average processing time for the subclass 300 visa is between 14 and 17 months (based on 75-90% of applications lodged).
Note that this is an approximate time-frame only and changes periodically. The processing time for your application will also depend on your individual circumstances, including whether you provide all the required documents and if they are in the correct form. Additional delays can also result if issues arise in determining whether you meet visa requirements (e.g. if Immigration has doubts about whether you have a genuine intention to live together as spouses once you are married) resulting in further investigations being conducted by the Department.
Be aware also that taking the prospective marriage visa pathway will involve a significant period from lodgement of your subclass 300 visa application to a final decision being made on your subclass 801 permanent residence visa application. In addition to the processing times noted above, you should also be aware of the following expected processing periods for the onshore partner visa application, as noted below:

The overall process for the prospective marriage visa pathway may, therefore, take over 5 years, based on minimum average processing periods noted above (and taking into account the 9-month visa grant period for the subclass 300 visa). This is important information to be aware of as you plan your own visa pathway.

Can you visit your partner in Australia whilst the subclass 300 visa is being processed?

With the current lengthy processing times for the subclass 300 (over 1 year), you might consider applying for a visitor visa to allow you to visit your partner in Australia during this period. This type of visa is normally granted for a short period (3 months) and requires that you meet the Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement (among other requirements) for visa grant. This is to ensure that you intend to visit Australia on a temporary basis only, for the purpose for which the visitor visa is granted (for example, under the tourist stream, your purpose may be to visit your partner).

Be mindful that you must be located outside Australia for the subclass 300 visa to be granted. To ensure that you receive all correspondence from the Department, always keep your contact details updated and advise of any changes immediately.

What happens if the subclass 300 visa is granted?

You must be located outside Australia for visa grant.
If approved, your visa will allow you to travel to and reside in, Australia temporarily for a period of 9 months. If you intend to marry your partner in Australia, you must do so after your first entry to Australia and within the 9-month visa grant period.
If you are intending to marry overseas, you must enter Australia before you marry your partner. You can then depart to get married, and again re-enter Australia within the 9-month visa period to lodge your onshore partner visa application.
The subclass 300 visa allows you to work and study in Australia as well as travel without limitation for the duration of the visa period.

What happens if the subclass 300 visa is refused?

If your application for the subclass 300 visa is unsuccessful, you may be able to appeal the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). This process is called a ‘merits review.’ Note that this option will not be available in all instances. Strict requirements apply with regard to how the review process is to be conducted, including tight application deadlines and who the review applicant must be.
If you do not follow the correct procedures in lodging your review application, you run the risk of your application being deemed invalid. This would mean having to re-apply, provided you have not passed the time limit for applying by that time.
The AAT will consider your application and evidence, as lodged with Immigration and take into account information that you provide as part of the review. It will apply the same legislative provisions that were applied by Immigration in deciding your case.
The Tribunal has a range of options available to it in deciding a case. It can set aside, vary or affirm the Department’s original decision. It can also remit your application to the Department for your application to be reconsidered with specific directions.
Given the strict deadlines that apply, if you are seeking to apply for a review, ensure that you act quickly and lodge your application with the AAT as soon as possible.

For up to date advice on the subclass 300 visa application, including an assessment of your eligibility for visa grant and the process for applying, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration advice service based in Adelaide, and we aren’t expensive! Just ask us!