Australia’s parter visa program is designed to keep couples together. There are so many reasons you and your spouse or partner might be looking to move to or stay in Australia. Perhaps you met on a vacation and have been in a relationship ever since. Or, you have been living and working in another country and you met your partner there. You might have even met online and fallen in love. If you’re in a legitimate couple, you may be eligible to migrate to Australia using this visa.
What is a partner visa?
According to Australia’s Department of Home Affairs, a partner visa allows the partner or spouse of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen to live in Australia. If you are married to or engaged to or in a de facto relationship with an eligible person and they are willing to sponsor you, you may be eligible for a partner visa.
Different Types of Partner Visas
There are many different types of partner visas in Australia, including:
- Temporary Partner Visa – Onshore (subclass 820);
- Permanent Partner Visa – Onshore (subclass 801);
- Temporary Partner (Provisional) Visa – Offshore (subclass 309);
- Permanent Partner (Migrant) Visa – Offshore (subclass 100); and
- Prospective Marriage Visa (subclass 300).
The type of visa you need to apply for depends on whether you apply for a partner visa inside or outside Australia. Your personal circumstances can impact which visa you must apply for too. It’s always best to reach out to an immigration lawyer to determine which visa is right for you and your partner and/or family.
How do Australian partner visas work?
A permanent partner visa let you stay in Australia with your spouse or de facto partner. You have all the rights of an Australian permanent resident once you’re granted a partner visa subclass 801 or subclass 100. But the visa application process isn’t as simple as just applying for a permanent partner visa. Usually, applying for a temporary visa is the first step and then you work towards a permanent partner visa.
Temporary visa subclass 820 – onshore
If you apply for the temporary partner visa in Australia – and you get a bridging visa once your current visa expires – you can stay in Australia and continue to work. Your visa lets you study in Australia too, at your expense. This temporary partner visa lets you work towards a partner visa subclass 801.
What’s a bridging visa?
If your current visa is expiring and you have a partner visa application in process, you need to apply for a bridging visa to maintain your legal status in Australia. When you apply for a bridging visa, it basically acts like an extension of your current visa and usually comes with the same conditions.
You should reach out to one of our migration agents if you need help applying for your bridging visa.
Temporary partner visa – offshore
If you’re outside Australia when you apply for the temporary visa, you are eligible to visit but you can’t stay permanently. You can’t work in Australia during your visit(s). Also, you need to be outside Australia for your application to be granted. Once it is granted, you can come to Australia and work towards the permanent partner visa subclass 100. This visa lets you work and study in Australia while you wait.
The Main Difference Between A Temporary And Permanent Visa
The major difference between the temporary visa and the permanent one is that you need to meet all the eligibility requirements while you wait for your permanent visa. This means you need to remain married or living with your de facto partner for the two years from when you apply while you wait for the permanent visa to be assessed and granted. When you transition from the temporary and the permanent visa, you don’t need to continue meeting the eligibility requirements. Your sponsor (likely your spouse or de facto partner) doesn’t need to continue meeting the requirements either.
Can You Bring A Child to Australia on a Partner Visa?
You can bring a child or dependant family member to live in Australia when you are granted a partner visa. The best way to do this depends on your family circumstances. If your child has an Australian parent, they may be eligible for Australian citizenship by descent. If not, you are permitted to add dependant children to your partner visa application. Your family members will need to meet health and character requirements and you’ll need to submit documents proving that they are your child/family.
Requirements and Eligibility for A Partner Visa
As an applicant, you must meet the relevant requirements to be granted a partner visa. These include:
The Relationship Requirement
You may be eligible to apply for a partner visa if you are in a genuine relationship with an:
- Australian citizen;
- Australian permanent resident; or
- Eligible New Zealand citizen.
To be considered to be in a genuine relationship, you must be married to or engaged to an eligible person or in a de facto relationship with your visa partner.
Both people in the relationship must be aged 18 or older.
De Facto Relationship Definition
You must prove that you’ve been living together for at least 12 months and that you and your visa partner are building a shared life together to meet the de facto partner requirement. The Immigration Department will request documents to prove your relationship. It’s important to remember that time you spent dating or in an online relationship doesn’t count towards the de facto relationship requirement. The clock starts ticking when you move in together.
In some cases, you may be able to prove a de facto relationship without having lived together for 12 months. If your relationship if registered in an Australian state or territory, for instance, you may not need to demonstrate that you’ve lived together for 12 months.
If you don’t meet the 12 month requirement but you want to start your partner visa application, get in touch. Our migration agents are here to help.
Proving Your Relationship is Genuine
You must to provide a range of documents that allow the immigration officer to determine whether your relationship is genuine. This involves providing a written statement about how you met, major milestones in your relationship, and what your long term plans include. You will also need to supply documents relating to your finances, household, shared social life, and commitment to one another.
The Sponsor Requirement
You must have a sponsor to move to Australia on a partner visa. Your sponsor must meet certain requirements, including financial eligibility standards and character checks. They will also need to pay back any debts they owe to the Australian Government before the application can be approved.
Good Health & Good Character Requirements
You will need to undergo a health check provided by an approved doctor. You’ll also be required to provide background check documents for each country you’ve lived in.
Australia’s application fees for partner visas are some of the most expensive in the world. You must pay the application fee before your visa will be processed.
English Proficiency Requirement
This requirement was only recently added. It requires an applicant from any country other than the UK, US, Ireland, Canada, or New Zealand to either sit an English test or undertake 500 hours of English language classes.
The Process For Getting a Permanent Partner Visa
There are 5 major steps for getting a partner visa to stay in Australia. It will take a minimum of two years from the date you submit your temporary visa application before your permanent partner visa subclass 100 or 801 is granted. But it will take you time to gather all the documents and information you need to submit your application too. Here are the steps:
Step 1: Get help with your application from a migration agent.
You don’t need to help with your application, but it is a good idea. The application process is long and complex. You might be eligible to apply for more than one visa and it might be better to apply under a different stream. Your migration lawyer or agent is your best resource for this.
Step 2: Gather your documents.
You must gather all the documents we listed above. It’s important to note that there are time restrictions on some of the documents you need to provide. Your health exams must have been completed less than 18 months before you apply. Your background check document, including the National Police Certificate, must be less than 15 months old when you apply.
Step 3: Apply for your visa.
Depending on which stream you apply for, you will either need to be in Australia or outside of Australia at the time you apply.
Step 4: After you apply.
While you wait for your visa to be granted, you must make sure you continue to meet all the requirements. You might also need to:
- provide biometrics
- have health exams
- fix mistakes on your application
- add family members
- update your application if your details change
- maintain legal status if you live in Australia. You do this by getting a bridging visa.
If you separate from your spouse or de facto partner in the years while you wait for your permanent visa, you must let the Department of Home Affairs know. It doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to live in Australia.
Step 5: Get your visa outcome.
Depending on which visa you apply for, you must either be in Australia or outside Australia when your visa is granted. If your visa is not granted, you will find out why and whether you can have the decision reviewed. Your application fee isn’t refunded if the applicant doesn’t receive the partner visa. It’s very important that the applicant appeals the refusal in time. Seek legal assistance immediately!
Partner Visa Processing Time
The processing time varies on a case-by-case basis and depending on which visa you apply for. That said, Australia’s Department of Home Affairs does release estimated processing times for these partner visas. They are:
Immigration officers process 75% of applications under this category within 23 months and 90% of applications within 28 months.
These permanent visas are usually processed a little faster for an applicant than the temporary visas. 75% of these applications are processed within 11 months and 90% are completed within 20 months.
These are the regular processing times for provisional partner visas under subclass 801:
- 75% of applications are processed within 19 months.
- 90% of the applicant pool receive determination within 23 months.
- 75% of the applicant pool receives their outcome for this permanent visa within 16 months.
- While, 90% of applications are processed within 22 months.
- This visa, which allows an applicant to come to Australia to marry their eligible partner, takes quite a while to be processed.
- 75% of applications are processed within 19 months, and 90% are finished within 24 months. This leaves you with plenty of time to plan the wedding!
Conditions of Partner Visas
Whether or not your partner visa may have conditions attached depends on which type of partner visa you’re applying for. For instance, applications under subclass 820 and subclass 801 don’t typically have conditions attached. But, the other partner visas we’ve discussed on this page might. Here’s what the conditions might be:
- Condition 8502 states that you cannot enter Australia before ‘the person specified in the visa has entered Australia’. It is sometimes attached to subclass 300, subclass 100, and subclass 309 visas. This means that you can’t come to Australia before your partner. They must already be on shore before you arrive.
- Condition 8515 means that you cannot get married or enter a de facto relationship before you arrive in Australia. It may be attached to subclass 300, subclass 100, and subclass 309 visas. If you do get married while your visa application is pending, the immigration department might cancel your visa.
- Condition 8519 requires you to marry your partner while the visa is valid.
- Condition 8520 is commonly attached to the prospective marriage visas. It requires you to marry the person specified in your visa before it expires if you want to stay in Australia.
Get Help From An Experienced Migration Agent
As an applicant, navigating the immigration process is complicated. Getting help with the process from a qualified migration agent makes the application process less stressful and more likely to succeed. At Altria, we know what information the Department of Home Affairs wants to see in your application. We’ll do everything we can so that you can proceed with confidence.
Get in touch for a free consultation with our friendly migration agents.