An Introduction to Partner Visas
Found your life partner? Congratulations! We couldn’t be happier for you. Unfortunately, there’s still that red tape to get through, but we are here to help!
First stage: Offshore Partner (Provisional) visa (subclass 309)
Second stage: Partner (Migrant) visa (subclass 100)
First stage: Onshore temporary Partner visa (subclass 820)
Second stage: Partner visa (subclass 801)
Here are the basic criteria that apply to first stage partner visa applications.
The sponsoring partner needs to be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen who is older than 18 years of age. Sponsors that are under the age of 18 require a parent or guardian to act as the sponsor, in which case the parent or guardian sponsor must be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen. Cases where the sponsor is under 18 and is eligible is however limited, as underage relationships are not recognised in Australian law.
The sponsor must be able to pass character tests in accordance with family violence protection measures. This requirement was introduced on 18 November 2016.
Learn more: Family violence protection measures
Limitations on sponsorship
You cannot be a sponsor:
- If you were sponsored for a partner or prospective marriage visa in the last 5 years
- Have already successfully sponsored 2 people for migration to Australia on a partner or prospective marriage visa
- Have already successfully sponsored a person for migration to Australia on a partner or prospective marriage visa in the last 5 years
This limitation may be waived should there be compelling circumstances involved, such as and not limited to the preceding partner having passed away or if the current relationship involves dependent children.
The sponsor must provide accommodation and financial support to their partner and family for up to two years following their visa grant/first entry into Australia including any English language courses (where required).
The sponsor is also obligated to inform the DIBP should their relationship with the applicant break down, or if you intend to withdraw sponsorship before the application is finalised.
The applicant must also meet health and character requirements. Penal clearance certificates need to be provided for each country in which the applicant has lived for 12 months or more from the age of 16 years. The applicant may also be required to provide biometrics
Learn more: Biometrics
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection recognises the following relationship formats – spouse (married), intending to marry (soon), or de facto partner.
The marriage must be valid under Australian law. Underage, polygamous and same-sex marriages are not legal in Australia. Same sex couples are eligible to apply as de facto partners.
Certified copies of marriage certificates must be produced.
The relationship must have existed for at least 12 months before the time of application and time spent dating is not considered to contribute to the length of the relationship. De facto applicants must be 18 years and older.
The relationship may still be eligible even if it falls under the 12 months if there are compassionate and compelling reasons such as there being a dependent child from the relationship, if the relationship is same sex and is illegal in the applicant’s country, if a same sex couple has legally married overseas, or if the relationship is registered under a law of a State or Territory prescribed in the Acts Interpretation. A pregnant applicant is not considered to meet the ‘ compelling and compassionate criteria’.
Intend to marry (outside Australia)
Where marriage arrangements have already been made in Australia, the couple can apply before they are married. Evidence of such arrangements will need to be provided.
The DIBP will assess the following 4 main aspects of the relationship to determine its genuinity:
- Financial aspects of the relationship; such as household expenses, joint ownerships and accounts
- Nature of the household; living arrangements and shared responsibility for the household, care and support of child (if applicable)
- Social aspects to the relationship; how friends view the relationship, joint social activities etc.
- Nature of your commitment to each other; length of the relationship, period of cohabitation etc.
Where one partner was previously married, it is important to show that that marriage has already been lawfully dissolved by divorce or permanent separation. Legal documents will be required. Should the previous partner be deceased, a death certificate will need to be produced.
The DIBP will assess if the relationship is still ongoing after two years. The couple will have need to provide documentation of proof of a continued relationship throughout the two years. Statutory declarations will also be required from two witnesses that support that the relationship is ongoing and genuine.
Long term relationship
Should the applicant and sponsor have already been in a long term relationship at the time of application, they would not have to wait for two years. A long term relationship is one that:
- Has been ongoing for no less than 2 years and the relationship has produced a dependent child
- Has been ongoing for no less than 3 years
Change in circumstances
Should the relationship no longer exist, there are certain situations in which an applicant may still be granted the permanent residency visa. These are:
- Death of the Australian partner
- Family violence
- Applicant have custody and responsibilities for the same child the Australian partner has rights and responsibilities for
In such cases the applicant may not have to wait 2 years for the grant of their permanent visa.
The processing time for partner visas is quite long, with the ballpark turnaround time at more than 16 months for offshore applications and more than 20 months for onshore applications. Although the ideal would be to apply for your partner visa onshore, visitor visas from certain countries such as India have no further stay conditions on them making it difficult for the partner to stay onshore for an application.
Save your relationship the distress and speak to qualified agents regarding how best to go about applying for a partner visa, or if you have found yourself in a difficult situation where the relationship has broken down before the permanent visa grant.