Partner Visas: A Guide to Partner Visas and Prospective Marriage Visas for Australian Spouses and Engaged Couples [Updated 2020]
Get partner visa help here.
This article is useful if you hope to understand how to get a partner a visa for Australia, where one partner is an Australian citizen or permanent resident (or an eligible New Zealand citizen).
This article is not useful, if you are interested in a visa where both partners are temporary residents in Australia only. In this case, what you likely need is a dependent work visa or dependent student visa. In such cases, one partner becomes a dependent in the other partner’s primary visa application.
If you are worried about a visa refusal then read my guide on avoiding a partner visa refusal here.
Offshore partner visa
One common question I get asked is what to do in these circumstances:
“I have found my partner and wish to get married to this person. What visa application do I lodge and do I make an offshore application for a partner visa or do I bring that partner onshore and lodge the application onshore …. and one more question… Do I get married first overseas and if I do get married can the marriage be a court marriage or a ceremonial marriage or both?”
The short answer to this question is that if you have a choice of making an onshore application compared to an offshore application I would always advise seeking to make the application in Australia.
Why you should make an onshore application?
One reason for this is that you would ordinarily get a bridging visa if an application is lodged with in Australia.
Another reason is that if you do suffer a refusal then it is typically much easier to appeal against the refusal because all parties are able to attend a hearing in front of a Member of the tribunal who re-considers the visa refusal decision.
Of course the main reason is that you and your partner can get to stay together whilst immigration is processing your visa application, rather than one partner being onshore and the other partner being offshore for the duration of the processing time.
Processing time for partner visas
My current experience is that visa processing times for offshore and onshore visa applications is 20 months give or take 7 months.
Use this link to check out the current partner visa processing times as published by the Department of Home Affairs.
Bringing offshore partner to Australia
One really basic question is whether it is possible for the offshore partner to come to Australia on a visitor visa or similar temporary visa.
Let’s take an example of an Asian partner who is easily able to obtain a visitor visa to come to Australia. If the visa granted to the Asian partner is not impugned with any no further stay condition, then the common practice is for the offshore partner to grab a visitor visa to enter into Australia and then to lodge a partner visa immediately after arrival.
Let’s take another example of a partner from the Middle East who is finding it difficult to get a visitor visa to enter Australia. In such a case it might be quicker to simply lodge an offshore partner visa application.
No further stay condition affecting partner
If it is expected that any visitor visa will be refused (as is not uncommon from Middle Eastern countries at the present time) or if any visitor visa that is granted, will be encumbered with an 8503 “no further stay condition”, then you should proceed directly to lodging an offshore partner visa application.
The condition is one which means that even if you are able to get a visitor visa to bring your partner into Australia, there is a restriction on making any partner visa application onshore.
So there’s no point really if you are focused on getting a visa as quickly as possible, you might as well lodge offshore.
Of course you need to be in a genuine and continuing relationship. This relationship needs to be at the exclusion of others.
Sham marriages, contract marriages, fabricated defacto relationships or simple boyfriend and girlfriend relationships will not meet the requirements to be “genuine and continuing” for the purposes of a partner visa.
I often get asked whether or not arranged marriages meet the definition of genuine and continuing relationships. Of course they do! In fact I myself had an arranged marriage. Some people prefer to call it an introduced marriage.
There is nothing in Australian migration law that prevents partner’s who have had the benefit of friends and relatives arranging their introduction, from meeting any genuine and continuing relationship requirement.
Similarly there is nothing in Australian migration law that prohibits partners of the same sex (homosexual couples) from being in genuine and continuing relationships for the purposes of a partner visa.
Question I ask before giving advice
Generally you need to go through a set of questions for the partner who is sponsoring and another set of questions for the partner who was being sponsored for this visa.
Partner who is the sponsor
The first question I would like to know is whether or not the partner who is seeking to sponsor is in fact an Australian citizen or permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.
The second question is whether or not the sponsor has themselves been previously sponsored for a partner visa or sponsored another person for a partner visa. This is important because there are restrictions on how many times you can sponsor or be sponsored and if you are to do it more than once then there is a period of 5 years which must elapse between the sponsorships.
An important third question is whether the sponsor has any criminal record particularly if it relates to domestic violence. In Australia family violence and domestic violence I mean the same thing.
The 5th question is whether or not the sponsor is able to meet his or her obligations in supporting the partner.
Please share your comments with me.
I’d love to know more about your experience with applying for this visa subclass!
Read more about De Facto Visa (Partner Visa) Tips for Refusal