Applying for a partner visa? The new age of character scrutiny – what you need to know

Posted on November 28, 2017 by Benson Shi

If you are in a genuine relationship with an Australian Citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand resident you may be eligible to lodge a partner visa application. Your relationship must either be classified as married (legally recognised by Australian law) or de facto (as per Australian law).

Married Applicants
You are the spouse of another person if you are in a marriage that is legally valid in Australia, and:

  • you both have a mutual commitment to a shared life as husband and wife to the exclusion of all others
  • the marriage relationship is genuine and continuing
  • you live with the other person or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis.

To find out if your marriage is valid under Australian law, contact the agency for births, deaths and marriages in your state or territory.

Defacto Applicants
You and your partner are in a de facto partner relationship if all of the following applies:

  • you are not legally married to each other
  • you are committed to a shared life to the exclusion of all others
  • your relationship is genuine and continuing
  • you live together or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis
  • you are not related by family.

Your relationship can be with someone of the same or different sex.

Usually, your de facto relationship must have existed for at least 12 months immediately before you apply for the visa. Time spent dating or in an online relationship does not count as being in a de facto relationship.

If your de facto relationship has existed for less than 12 months, you might still be eligible for the visa. Find out if you do not need to meet (are exempt from) the one year relationship requirement.

Registering a relationship provides legal recognition as a couple under state law and can waive the 12 month cohabitation requirements.

Types of partner visas:

  • Partner Visa (Subclass 820 and 801) à These partner visas are two stages, with the Subclass 820 being a temporary partner visa granted to you first which allows you to stay in Australia while your permanent Subclass 801 visa is processed. To be eligible for this visa you must be inside Australia at the time of application (and decision) and eligible to apply for a visa.
  • Partner (Provisional) visa (Subclass 309) and Partner (Migrant) visa (subclass 100) –  similarly to the subclass 820 and 801 visa this is also a two stage application with a temporary and permanent visa. To be eligible to apply for this visa the applicant must be outside Australia at the time of application and time of decision.
  • Prospective Marriage Visa (subclass 300) this is an offshore visa application that can be lodged for applicants who are intending to get married. The visa is valid for 9 months and applicants must have been married prior to applying for the Subclass 820/801 visa to obtain permanent residency.

Applicants for all partner visas must meet certain health and character requirements in order successful be granted the visa.  Sponsors can only sponsor two people on a partner visa in their life time. There are waivers in place however they can be very difficult to obtain.

Recent changes to be aware of for Partner Visa Applications:

From 1 July 2017:

All prospective sponsors are required to provide a detailed immigration history, character record and obtain police clearance certificates from every country they have lived in for 12 months or more in the past ten years.

The Department are becoming increasingly forensic in their assessment of character for both sponsors and applicants alike.

Sponsors who have been convicted of relevant offences (link) or who have significant criminal histories (link) are advised to seek the advice of an immigration lawyer or migration agent to determine whether additional information should be included in the application to mitigate the personal circumstances.

From 18 November 2017:

  1. The Department will no longer accept paper applications (except in limited circumstances).
  2. Applications that are lodged without sufficient documents at time of lodgement will be subject to automatic refusal without any notice or request for further information!
  3. Applications lodged to meet validity requirements of Schedule 1 will be subject to automatic refusal without any notice or request for further information.

These are just some of the many attempts of the Department to encourage decision ready applications and to prevent applications being lodged to merely meet validity requirements, buying applicants time in Australia.

Applicants who lodge valid applications without have all the required documentation to substantiate their claims are now likely to have their visa application refused without notice.  Don’t risk your future with your loved one, make sure you speak to an immigration lawyer about lodging a decision ready application.

At Immigration Solutions Lawyers our policy is to only lodge decision ready applications where possible. We have an excellent track record with submitting valid applications with comprehensive submissions to address a range of client circumstances.  All of our immigration lawyers are also registered migration agents, giving us the edge when it comes to providing top quality and accurate advice.  Immigration law is constantly developing and changing, you should seek the assistance of a legal expert to help guide you through some of life’s most important applications.

Please see here the current Department Application Fees involved in lodging a partner visa.

Please see here the current (estimated) processing times for partner visas.

Need assistance with your Partner Visa application? Contact Immigration Solutions Lawyers

ISL is happy to provide an assessment on your eligibility for specific partner visas or other family sponsored visas, as well as practical advice and assistance with lodgement.  We strongly recommend that if you are wishing to sponsor someone on a partner visa and have a criminal record and/or have been convicted of a relevant offence that you speak to an Immigration Lawyer prior to submitting your application.

Disclaimer: The information provided is not legal advice and is not intended to serve as legal advice. Immigration Solutions Lawyers do not accept any liability for any damages suffered by persons who rely on the general information provided on this website. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.