What's the difference between the Subclass 820 Visa and Subclass 309 visas?
The main difference between these two subclasses of partner visas is where they can be lodged and granted. The Subclass 820 can only be lodged and granted whilst you are in Australia and the Subclass 309 can only be lodged and granted whilst you are outside Australia. The Subclass 820 visa application will result in a bridging visa which allows you to remain in Australia until a decision is made, whereas you will normally need to wait for the Subclass 309 visa to be granted before you can travel to Australia.
Which visa is suitable for you will depend on your physical location and personal situation, however, the application process for both is very similar in terms of the forms, application charge, documents, health and character checks.
What's the difference between a Prospective Marriage Visa and a Partner visa?
The Prospective Marriage Visa, commonly called the Fiancé visa is for people who are engaged to marry an Australian and wish to enter Australia to marry their fiance(e). This visa can only be applied for and granted whilst the applicant is outside Australia. Couples do not need to be married or be in a de facto relationship to be eligible, however, the couple must have met in person at least once since turning 18 years of age and intend to marry in Australia within 9 months of visa grant. After the wedding, the next step is to apply for the Partner Visa while in Australia.
Whereas the Partner Visa is for people who are already married or in a de facto relationship or in a registered relationship/civil partnership with their Australian partner and wish to migrate to Australia to be with their Australian partner. The provisional stage of this visa can be applied for either in or outside Australia.
Do I need to be married to lodge an Australian Partner Visa?
There is no compulsory requirement for you to be in a married relationship before lodging a Partner Visa. To be eligible to apply for a partner visa, you must either be in a married relationship OR in a de facto relationship for 12 months before applying OR be in a relationship that is registered under a prescribed Australian state or territory legislation.
Most importantly your relationship must be genuine and ongoing. As such The Department of Immigration still requires evidence of various aspects of a couple's relationship including the financial aspects, social aspects, nature of household and nature of commitment to each other. Simply getting married does not make it easy for the visa to be granted nor does a marriage certificate alone does not prove that your relationship is genuine and ongoing.
For a Partner Visa, where should we marry, in Australia or overseas?
There is no difference between getting married in Australia or overseas if your marriage overseas is recognised legally and properly registered in the other country.
Customary or traditional marriages, common law marriages and civil partnerships from other countries are not yet recognised in Australia and therefore you cannot use them to show that you are married for the Partner Visa application.
Can we apply for a partner visa before we get married?
Yes, in some circumstances and if you intend to marry overseas, you may be eligible to apply for the Subclass 309/100 Partner Visa before you get married. Importantly, please note that the initial Subclass 309 visa can only be granted after the marriage has taken place.
Who can I include in my Partner Visa?
The applicant may include your dependent children and step children in the partner visa application. Note that if your children are over 18 years of age, they need to be fully financially dependent on you to be included.
Can I apply for a visitor visa before applying for a Spouse / De Facto Visa?
Applying for a visitor visa before applying for a partner visa can be a great idea for couples who have had not had the opportunity to spend time together or live together. In our experience many couples will apply for a visitor visa for the non-Australian partner to come to Australia for a holiday and spend time with their Australian partner. If granted, it is a good time to start gathering evidence of the various aspects of your relationship which the Department of Immigration will be interested in knowing when the time comes for you to lodge your Partner Visa application.
It is however, very important that you be upfront and honest about why you are applying for the Visitor Visa and note that the Department may not always grant the visitor visa. Each and every relationship is different, so it is important to get advice from a Registered Migration Agent before making plans to lodge either a visitor visa or a partner visa.
What is Condition 8503 and Can I apply for a partner visa in Australia if I have this condition?
An “8503 - No Further Stay” condition prevents you from applying and being granted a visa while you remain in Australia. There are only very limited circumstances where the condition 8503 condition can be waived and allow you to lodge a Partner Visa. Such circumstances require you to demonstrate that there has been a major change in your circumstances which were beyond your control since the grant of your visitor visa and those circumstances are compelling and compassionate. Essentially you must have extremely strong reasons as to why you cannot leave and need to lodge your partner visa application in Australia. As an example of circumstances in which are not deemed strong enough for the waiver is falling pregnant whilst holding your visitor visa.
What Partner visa application is right for me?
The answer really depends on what stage your relationship with your partner is at.
If you and your partner have met in person (since turning 18) and are engaged but not yet married, then a Prospective Marriage (Subclass 300) Visa may be suitable for you. This visa allows you to come into Australia and marry your Australian partner within 9 months. After your marriage, you will be eligible to apply for the Partner Visa (Subclass 820/801).
If you are already married, or in a de facto relationship (or registered relationship) with an Australian, but live in another country other than Australia, then a Temporary Partner Visa (Subclass 309/100) may be suitable for you. The first provisional stage of this visa can only be applied for from outside Australia, while the second permanent stage can be from either in or outside Australia.
If you are already married, in a de facto relationship (or registered relationship), and currently reside in Australia, then a temporary Partner Visa (Subclass 820/801) may be suitable for you. The first temporary stage of this visa can only be applied for from inside Australia while the second permanent stage can be either in or outside Australia.
Everyone’s personal circumstances are different, and it is important to choose the right visa, so please seek further advice from Western Migration.
I am in a same sex relationship. Can I lodge a partner visa application?
Absolutely! The Australian Government legalised same sex marriage on the 9th of December 2017, which means same-sex couples now have the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to the Partner Visa Program
What type of evidence do I need for a Partner/De Facto Visa?
The Department will assess whether a relationship is a genuine ongoing relationship to the exclusion of all others based on history of the relationship, financial aspects, nature of the household, social aspects, the commitment to one another, and mutual future plans. The documents you provide therefore must include evidence of these aspects of your relationships e.g. joint bank account statements, joint tenancy agreements/property ownership, photos, social media posts, etc. Other evidence includes proof of yours and your partner’s identity, witness statements attesting to your relationship, and health and character checks
What evidence do I need for a Marriage Visa?
The evidence an applicant must provide is the very similar to the de facto visa, except that their marriage certificate must be provided. Applicants for a spouse partner visa application do not have to demonstrate that they have lived to together before their marriage (either at all or for a specific time).
The Department will assess whether a relationship is a genuine ongoing relationship to the exclusion of all others based on history of the relationship, financial aspects, nature of the household, social aspects, the commitment to one another, and mutual future plans. The documents you provide therefore must include evidence of these aspects of your relationships e.g. joint bank account statements, joint tenancy agreements/property ownership, photos, social media posts, etc. Other evidence includes proof of yours and your partner’s identity, witness statements attesting to your relationship, and health and character checks.
What evidence do I need for a Prospective Marriage Visa?
Applicants for this visa must provide evidence that they and their sponsor have met in person; are personally known to their sponsor; and that they genuinely intend on marrying and living together as husband and wife. Such evidence includes a letter from the applicant’s celebrant/minister/Iman or Registry Office confirming their intended marriage.
Who can provide a witness statement for my partner visa application?
Witness’s must be at least 18 years of age and be an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident. Your witness should have personal knowledge of the visa applicant, the sponsor and the history of their relationship. The witness completing the Form 888 or providing a written Statutory Declaration must provide certified copies of evidence of their current name, age and Australian citizenship or Australian permanent residency (for example a birth certificate, Australian passport or permanent visa grant notification).
How many witness statements should I obtain for my partner or prospective marriage visa application?
Whilst the Department of Home Affairs, only state that you need two witness statements, we recommend that you provide a minimum of four. Witness Statements should also be in either the Form 888 or a Statutory Declaration format, which are legal documents.
How long does it take for a partner visa to be granted?
The processing time really depends on which visa you apply for, where you are applying from and whether you are applying from inside or outside Australia. As an example, the Department of Home Affair’s average processing times for the first stage provisional Partner Visa (subclass 820) is 17 – 24 months and the second stage permanent partner visa (subclass 801) is 15 to 22 months.
Applications which are complete and decision ready (inclusive of medicals and character checks) are generally given priority both inside and outside Australia. This means that applicants who are considered low-risk (home country) and have lodged a well-prepared application will increase the chances of having the visa granted sooner, in some cases within 6-9 months after lodgement.
Where will my partner visa application be processed?
If your partner visa application is lodged in Australia, then generally your application will be processed by case officers in Australia. For applicants located outside of Australia, their applications are generally allocated to the closest processing centre to their home country.
Where do I need to be when I lodge my Subclass 309 Partner Visa Application?
You need to be OUTSIDE Australia when you lodge your application visa and also OUTSIDE Australia when the application is granted.
Where do I need to be when I lodge my Subclass 820 Partner Visa Application?
If you are applying for the Subclass 820 and you have a valid Visa which allows you to lodge INSIDE Australia, then you need to be INSIDE Australia when you lodge your application.
Where do I need to be when I lodge my Prospective Marriage Visa Application?
You need to be outside Australia when you lodge your application visa and also outside Australia when the application is granted.
Do I lodge my application online or via the post?
From 01 July 2018, all Partner and Prospective Marriage visas must be lodged online. Paper applications will only be accepted with prior approval from the Department of Home Affairs in limited circumstances.
Will the Department of Home Affairs contact me to let me know when I am eligible for second stage processing?
The Department of Home Affairs often do not advise clients when they are eligible to apply for their permanent partner visa. As such we recommend that you keep record of the date two years ahead of your first partner visa application. Mark in on your calendar, set a reminder or contact us and we will advise you on what the next steps are.
Do I have to show joint financial records when applying for my partner visa?
The Department of Home Affairs will consider the financial aspects of your relationship when determining whether or not a couple are in a genuine and continuing relationship. The financial aspects of the relationship may be evidenced by joint loan agreements, joint property ownership, joint bank accounts, joint financial obligations, sharing day to day household expenses etc. For this reason, you and your partner should expect to provide detailed financial information as part of your Partner Visa application.
Do I have to provide my travel history?
The Department of Home Affairs require that you provide you travel history (including dates, location and reason for travel) and all your residential addresses for the past 10 years. We understand that this can be challenging for some clients as they may have travelled extensively but your complete travel record is very important, and it is essential that the information you give is as accurate as possible.
What is a Bridging Visa?
A bridging visa is a non-substantive visa that allows you to stay lawfully in Australia from after you have lodged a visa application to when you are granted a substantive visa. The Bridging Visa does not come into effect though until the visa you were holding at the time of lodgement expires. For example, if you a student visa and you lodge a Partner Visa (Subclass 820/801) while in Australia, you will be granted a Bridging Visa A which will only come into effect after your student visa expires. You can then stay in Australia on the bridging visa until your Partner Visa is granted.
How does a partner visa and bridging visa work?
A bridging visa is a visa which allows you to stay lawfully in Australia when you lodge a Partner Visa (Subclass 820/801) application until it is granted. You can only receive a Bridging Visa if you are in Australia on a substantive visa, when you lodge the partner visa. Your Bridging Visa will only come into effect once your substantive visa expires and will remain in effect until your partner visa is granted.
You will not be able to get a bridging visa if you applied for the Partner Visa (309/100) while overseas.
Can I work on a Bridging Visa?
Yes, if you have lodged a Partner Visa (Subclass 820/801) application while in Australia on a substantive visa, you will be granted a Bridging Visa A which automatically comes with full rights. Then once your Provisional Partner Visa is granted, you will have full work rights and this continues on after you have your permanent residency.
You do not have automatic work rights if you were not holding a substantive visa when you applied for the Partner Visa. In this case you will have to show to the Department of Home Affairs that you will be in financial hardship if you are not able to work and to apply for a new bridging visa with work rights.
Do I have to maintain the conditions of my substantive visa after I have applied for my partner visa?
Yes. If the visa you are holding has conditions imposed (eg work limitations, study limitations, etc) then you must continue to abide by them until your visa expires. For example, if you are holding a student visa when you apply for your partner visa, then you must continue to meet those visa conditions. The Bridging Visa A will become effective only after your student visa expires.
My partner and I have been in a relationship for many years. Do I still have to wait two years before I can apply for permanent residency?
If you and your partner have been in a long-term relationship, you may request (at the time of application) to be considered for permanent residency immediately after the provisional Partner Visa is granted. The Department of Home Affairs consider a long-term relationship to be one that is over three years duration or over two years with a dependent child of the relationship.
My partner and I live in separate countries. Can we see each other during the partner visa processing period?
It is a common Partner Visa misconception that partners cannot see each other until the Partner Visa is granted. If yours is an Offshore application, you can apply for a Visitor Visa during the processing period.
How much does the partner visa cost?
The Partner Visa (Subclass 820/801) application charge, whether you apply from onshore or offshore, is $7,160. If you hold a Prospective Marriage Visa, the visa application charge is $1,170. In addition, you also need to factor in the cost of the Department’s online surcharge fee, Health Checks, Police Clearances, Translation Fees and Migration Agent Fees (if you choose to use an agent).
Do I have to use a Registered Migration Agent?
The answer to that is dependent on your own circumstances. If after seeking advice, your application is deemed to be straight forward by a Registered Migration Agent, then you may consider preparing the application yourself.
However, we would say “No” to lodging your own Partner Visa Application if any complex issues with your case have been identified by a us or another Registered Migration Agent.
Why use a Registered Migration Agent?
A Registered Migration Agent is someone who is legally allowed to give immigration and visa advice in Australia. They have knowledge of Australia’s Immigration Law and Policy. Their qualifications have been approved by the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA), and they have been given a listed number.
My Partner and I have not lived together for more than 12 months. Can we still apply for a de facto visa?
To be granted a Partner Visa as a de facto partner (opposite-sex or same-sex), you and your sponsor must show that you have been in a committed de facto relationship for the entire 12 months immediately prior to lodging your application. You may still be eligible to apply if you and your partner have compelling and compassionate circumstances which prevented you from living together temporarily during that 12-month period. Importantly, those circumstances need to be beyond your control.
If you have spent some time living apart from your partner, it is best to get professional advice as to whether you meet the 12 months de facto relationship requirement.
I am not divorced yet can I still apply for a Partner Visa?
Yes, in some circumstances. There is provision for you (or your sponsor) to apply for a de facto partner visa, if you have been living with your current partner for more than 12 months. If you (or your sponsor) have been legally separated but are not yet legally divorced, and you meet the 12-month residence requirement as well as satisfying the other visa criteria, then you may be eligible to apply for a partner visa. Ideally, you should be able to show that you are in the process of finalising the divorce with your ex-partner.
What if my partner has a child from a previous relationship?
It is possible to include children from a previous de facto relationship or marriage as secondary applicants in a Prospective Marriage visa application or Partner Visa application.
It is a mandatory requirement that your partner advise the Department of Home Affairs of all their children, no matter their age or circumstances, regardless of whether they will be included in the application or not.
Importantly, If your partner has a child aged under 18 years of age and is being included in their partner visa application, the other non-migrating parent must provide written consent to the child’s migration. Alternatively, your partner can produce official legal documents from their home country to prove that they have sole rights and access to the child to the exclusion of the other parent.
Alternatively, if your partner’s child is aged over 18 years of age and is migrating with your partner, they the child must be financially dependent on your partner e.g. studying full time, not working, all support is from your partner.
Notably, all dependent children, whether they are migrating with your partner or not, are usually required to undertake a visa medical examination. This is important because of the “one fails, all fails” rule, meaning that if your partner’s dependent child fails to meet the health criteria, then your partner will also be deemed to not meet the health criteria.
What if I have a health issue?
All visa applicants wishing to migrate to Australia whether that be temporarily or permanently are required to meet certain health requirements, alternatively known as satisfying the health criteria. What type of medical examinations required is dependent on the visa subclass as well as other factors such as age, countries visited and intended activities in Australia. As the partner visa leads to permanent residency applicants are subject to comprehensive medical examinations than those applicable to other temporary visas.
Your partner’s visa application could be refused if they fail to meet the health Criteria. Whilst Partner Visas do have a health waiver provision, it is not always exercised by the Department. Therefore, it is very it is very important to seek professional advice if your partner has a health condition or issue before lodging their application.
What if my partner visa application is refused?
If your partner’s visa application is refused, your and your sponsor have the right to have the refusal decision reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). If you are in Australia, you will have 21 days 21 days from the date of visa refusal to make the application to the AAT. The fee payable to the AAT is $1,764 (from 1 July 2018). Although 50% refund of the fees are refunded if you are successful at the Tribunal and the visa application is remitted back to the Department of Immigration for re-consideration.
If you do not apply for an Administrative Appeals Tribunal review, you will need to leave Australia after the expiry of your bridging visa, because in most instances, you will not be able to apply for another visa while in Australia.
My relationship with my partner has ended, but I am still waiting for my partner visa application to be finalised. What happens now?
Unfortunately, if your relationship ended before you are granted the first stage temporary Partner Visa (Subclass 820 or 309), your visa application visa will be refused.
If you were holding a provisional Partner Visa (Subclass 820 or 309) and waiting for the second stage permanent Partner Visa (subclass 801 or 100), when your relationship ended, then you may still be granted a partner visa if you, or a member of your family, were a victim of family violence which occurred during your relationship.
That said, the rules and evidence required to prove family violence is very complex. As such it is extremely important to get professional advice.
My visa has been refused or cancelled. Can I still apply for a Partner Visa?
Yes, in limited circumstances. The Partner Visa (Subclass 820/801) is one of the few visas that you may apply for after having a visa refusal or your visa cancelled whilst in Australia and if you are not holding a substantive visa. Importantly, the visa that was refused or cancelled cannot have been any type of partner visa.
In these circumstances, there is additional requirements which must be met, so if you have had a visa refused or cancelled whilst in Australia (and/or you are on a bridging visa) and you wish to lodge a Partner Visa application, please seek professional migration advice.
Can my current partner sponsor me if they have previously sponsored someone else?
Yes, your partner may be able to sponsor you if they are not subject to the sponsorship limitations.
If your Australian Partner has previously sponsored 2 other partners for migration to Australia OR have sponsored another partner within the last 5 years OR were sponsored as a partner themselves within the last 5 years, then they may not be able to sponsor you.
If there were compelling and compassionate circumstances, such as your sponsor’s previous partner died or left the sponsor with young children or if you and your sponsor have children together, then your sponsor maybe permitted to sponsor you.
Can I sponsor my current partner if I have been sponsored before for a partner visa?
Yes, but this is dependent on when your previous partner visa application was lodged, as there are limitations on sponsorship. Usually you cannot sponsor someone for a Partner Visa if you were sponsored as a partner yourself within the last 5 years.
You may be permitted to sponsor if there are compelling and compassionate circumstances such as if your previous partner had died or left you with young children or if your current relationship is long-term or if you and your partner have children together.
My Partner has a criminal record, can we still apply for a partner visa?
Every person wanting to enter Australia is required to meet the character test, which is a set of criteria determined by the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA). The Character Test applies to not only the visa applicant but to the visa sponsor also. If either the applicant or sponsor fails the character test, the visa application maybe refused.
That said, failure to meet the character requirements, does not automatically mean that the visa will be refused. The DOHA does have the discretion to approve or refuse the visa in some cases following consideration of a range of factors and the individual circumstances.
What is PIC 4020 and what effect will it have on my application?
Public Interest Criteria 4020 is very important as it relates to bogus and/or fraudulent information and includes lying on previous visa applications. If you fail to tell the truth or provide false documents the Department of Home Affairs, they may either think that your relationship is false and therefore deny your application or that you lied on your previous application which is breaking the law.
As such, providing false statements on a previous application will leave you in a difficult position with a lot of explaining to do and could possibly lead to a refusal of the visa application.
Disclaimer: Despite the fact that all the information we have provided on this page was accurate at time of publishing, Australian immigration legislation and policy is constantly changing without notice. As such information on this page is to be used as a general guide only and does not in any way constitute immigration or legal advice. Always seek professional advice from a Registered Migration Agent about your specific circumstances before lodging any visa application.