Partner Visa Process Australia – By Immigration Lawyer Nilesh Nandan

The Australian Dream: Partner Visa Australia

As an immigration lawyer, I’ve helped countless people live the Australian dream through the Partner Visa Stream. This visa allows an applicant to be sponsored by their Australian spouse, de facto or interdependent (same-sex) partner who must be either an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen, aged over 18 years. This includes partners in a marriage, prospective marriage, or de facto relationship.

Validity of Partner Visa

Once a valid Partner Visa application is made onshore, a bridging visa is usually granted, allowing stay until a temporary Partner Visa is granted.

Once a temporary Partner Visa is granted, it’s valid for the entire waiting period until the Immigration Department makes a decision on your permanent Partner Visa application. Once you’re approved for the permanent Partner Visa, you can stay in Australia indefinitely.

How the Partner Visa Works

The process involves sending in an application for a temporary and permanent visa. This is done by completing an application and lodging it.

If after the assessment you meet the criteria for this Australian visa, the temporary Partner Visa may be granted. This visa is valid until you are granted a Permanent visa, usually given a couple of years after the application is lodged. If all requirements are still met after two years, then the permanent Partner Visa is yours.

You can be eligible for a permanent visa without the stipulated waiting period if you can show proof that you and your partner have been married or in a relationship for a total of 3 years or more. The permanent visa may also be granted without waiting as long if you have a child together. If your partner has a permanent visa through the Australian humanitarian program or was given a protection visa then the 2-year waiting period might be waived.

Requirements for Partner Visa Australia

The requirements for the Partner Visa are to be met at the time of application and at the time of decision or both the temporary and permanent visa. You’ll also need to pay for the visa costs and costs for your representative. Health examinations are par for the course and you may have to foot the bill for the medical check-up. Police checks may also be necessary and you will have to pay for this to be processed in your own country and any other countries you’ve lived in.

What is a Partner Visa?

Partner Visas, including de facto partner visas, are usually provided to the partners and spouses of Australian Citizens, permanent residents or those who are eligible New Zealand Citizens living in Australia. A partner visa can be obtained both for heterosexual and same-sex couples.

There are two stages of obtaining a partner visa in Australia. First, a person gets a provisional partner visa, which is called Subclass 820 for onshore and Subclass 309 for offshore applicants. Once the applicant qualifies for the provisional partner visa, couples are assessed again for meeting the criteria of permanent partner visa, which is further classified into two categories; Subclass 801 Visa for those having subclass 820 visa and subclass 100 visa for the subclass 309 visa holders.

Different Types of Partner Visas

Australian Immigration policy provides for 3 main types of partner visa options:

  1. Prospective Marriage Visa (Subclass 300)
  2. Partner Visa Offshore (Subclasses 309 and 100)
  3. Partner Visa Onshore (Subclass 820/801)

Stages of Partner Visa

There are two main stages in the Partner Visa process:

  1. Stage 1: Temporary Partner visa
  2. Stage 2: Permanent Partner Visa

Both temporary and permanent partner visas allow work, study and you may be eligible for Medicare.

Prospective Marriage Visa (Subclass 300)

This visa lets you come to Australia to marry your prospective spouse and then apply for a Partner visa. For those who are engaged to an Australian citizen or a permanent Australian resident or a person who is eligible to be a citizen of New Zealand the subclass 300 prospective marriage visa is a common choice. This visa is also called a fiancé visa and to obtain this the other partner must be outside of Australia at the time of application.

Partner Visa Offshore (Subclasses 309 and 100)

The Partner visa 309 and 100 can be applied for Overseas. It allows the partner or spouse of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen to live in Australia. You apply for the temporary and the permanent partner visas together.

Partner Visa Onshore (Subclass 820/801)

The most popular partner visa options are subclass 820 and subclass 801, both of these are onshore partner visa applications. As for the offshore partner visa, one can obtain subclass 309 and subclass 100.

For those who are in a long-term de facto or married relationship with a permanent resident of Australia, Australian citizen or eligible New Zealand citizen, then these two options (820/801 and 309/100) are the most feasible options to look at.

Provisional Partner Visa

There are two types of provisional partner visas that include, subclass 820 visa and subclass 309.

Both provisional visas are granted for a specified period (or trigger event) or until they are superseded by the permanent partner visa.

Permanent Partner Visas

After 2 years of the provisional partner visa application, the immigration department again assesses the application of the applicant to see whether they meet the criteria to get a permanent partner visa or not. In order to become eligible for the assessment of visa application for a permanent partner visa after being together for two years after lodgement, the applicant must show that he/she is still in a de facto or married relationship with their partner.

Those who have acquired subclass 820 provisional partner visa are usually granted a subclass 801 permanent partner visa, whereas subclass 309 provisional partner visa holders are granted a subclass 100 permanent partner visa,

After receiving a permanent partner visa grant the Australian residency of the applicant becomes unconditional and they are allowed to live in Australia indefinitely, whether they stay in a de facto or married relationship with their partner or not.

Subclass 461 Visa (New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship Visa)

This visa is for a person who is not a New Zealand citizen but is a member of a family unit of a New Zealand citizen. It lets you live and work in Australia for five years. For people whose partner is a New Zealand citizen, a subclass 461 New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship Visa is an ideal choice. Though it’s a fixed period Visa with 5 years validity, it can typically be renewed easily.

Partner Visa Processing Time

Though there is no fixed time mentioned anywhere about how long it will take to get your partner visa application processed, on average, it takes our client anywhere between 16 months to 24 months to get the application processed. In most cases, the department responds to the application only after the published dates that you find on their websites has elapsed. However, the processing time for any partner visa application depends on a number of factors that include:

  • Completeness of the supported documents attached to the application
  • How promptly the applicant is responding to queries for additional information
  • How long the information and background check formalities will take with regard to the information that you have provided
  • The time that will take to gather information from additional sources which are outside the purview of the immigration department like health, national security, background, character, etc.
  • The final decision will be made on the basis of the authenticity of all the information and documents that the applicant has shared with the application

It is recommended not to make travel arrangements, like ticket booking, lodging, etc. until you get positive results for your application.

Conditions of Partner Visas

Anyone who is married to an Australian permanent resident, citizen or a person who is eligible to be a citizen of New Zealand or is planning to marry any one of them is likley to be eligible to apply for a partner visa in Australia. But, there are some general conditions that both the parties, applicant and sponsor should meet in order to be able to apply successfully for a partner visa. These are:

  • The applicant of the partner visa must have a sponsorship from thar partner
  • Both the applicant and the sponsor must be above the age of 18 years to apply for a partner visa
  • The sponsor of the applicant visa must be a legal citizen of Australia, permanent resident of Australia or must be eligible to be a citizen of New Zealand
  • If applying as a defacto couple, the applicant and the sponsor must be in a relationship for at least 12 months which they need to prove at the time of application, although in some states, having a relationship certificate registered might get around this 12 month rule
  • There must be a satisfactory proof of relationship or marriage and there is a mutual commitment in the relationship.

Documents about your relationship with your partner

There are several documents that may be required to apply for a partner visa in Australia. In additiona to health certificates, background checks, education, and work experience information, standard documents include:

  • Joint bank accounts
  • Jointly owned assets such as real estate
  • Joint liabilities, like mortgages
  • Joint undertakings such as a joint lease
  • Naming each other as beneficiaries in wills or insurance policies
  • Bank statements
  • Bills, invoices, receipts etc.
  • Letters, invitations
  • Flight tickets or receipts evidencing your joint holidays or travels
  • Photos
  • Emails/letters to each other
  • Social media interaction with each other
  • Records of telephone conversations

While some of these documents/evidences are absolutely necessary, some can be termed as good to have to avoid any further hassle in the application.

Onshore Partner Visa in Australia

An onshore partner visa in Australia (820 and 801) can be applied for if the applicant is in a de facto, registered or marriage-bound relationship with an Australian citizen, a permanent Australian resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen.

Once an applicant manages to obtain an onshore temporary partner visa, they become eligible to perform the following duties as an Australian citizen:

  • Stay in Australia independently until they get their permanent partner visa
  • Study in Australia
  • Enroll themselves in Australia’s Medicare scheme
  • Travel in and out of Australia frequently

Once the applicant manages to get the onshore permanent visa, they become eligible to:

  • Stay in Australia independently
  • Study and also work in Australia
  • If eligible, they can also apply for Australian citizenship
  • Can even sponsor relatives for visas for Australia

Offshore Partner Visa In Australia

Offshore partner visa or subclass 309 visa allows the applicant to:

  • Enter and live in Australia until the decision on their permanent partner visa is made
  • Work in Australia
  • Study Australia
  • Enrol themselves in Australia’s health care program
  • Travel to and fro from Australia freely

Once the applicant gets a permanent offshore partner visa, they become eligible to:

  • Live in Australia
  • Study and work in Australia
  • If eligible, they can also apply for Australian citizenship
  • Sponsor relatives for a visa in Australia

For five years the applicant is allowed to travel to and from Australia, after which the applicant needs either a resident return visa or apply for another visa to another visa programme to return to Australia.

The Australian Partner Visa process is a complex one, but with the right guidance and support, it can be navigated successfully. As an experienced immigration lawyer, I’ve been involved in many thousands of successful partner visa applications and appeals. I’ve been assisting with these sorts of visa applications for 23 years, and I’m confident in my ability to help you navigate this process. Whether you’re applying onshore or offshore, married or in a de facto relationship, I can provide the expertise and support you need to make your Australian dream a reality.

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