In rough terms, 36% of partner applications are not processed within expected DIBP service times, and a partner visa takes up to 6.5 years to process. Fortunately the overwhelming majority of the applications lodged by The Migration Place in 2016 were processed ahead of the expected service standard timeframe, which demonstrates the importance of lodging a complete and professionally prepared application from day 1, as it minimises the need for the DIBP to request more material and documentation, and therefore minimises delay.
Partner Visa Expected Standard Service Times
The expected service standard times are between 5 and 12 months for the temporary stage and between 6 and 8 months for the permanent stage. While clearly a large number (approx. 36%) are not finalised within service standards, average processing times still remain somewhat reasonable – in 2014/15, the average processing time for a subclass 309/100 visa was 297 days – or nearly 10 months. This is within the services standards of the average processing time for an offshore Partner application, but the FOI then continues to state that the shortest processing time for a grant of a 309/100 visa was zero days (i.e. granted the same day as application), and the longest was a whopping 2342 days – or around 6 and a half years.
Since the time taken to process Partner visas is clearly enormously varied, migration agents and immigration lawyers are often left with the task of explaining to clients why the Department takes so long to process their visas – particularly in circumstances when one half of a couple are effectively stuck offshore, while the other has to remain in Australia – sometimes for work, sometimes for family – the reasons are as varied as they are plentiful.
Increasing Partner Visa Costs
At The Migration Place, we have noted throughout our years of providing Partner visa services changes in the prices and processing times – while today, any Partner visa costs $6865 and is supposed to process within 6 – 12 months, as recently as last year there were noticeable price differences between the onshore and offshore applications. Last year it was almost $2000 more expensive to apply onshore than it was to apply offshore, but processing time for onshore applicants had already begun to blow out to around 12 – 15 months.
In 2014, the same timeframes applied, with the same warning that the onshore 820/801 applications were actually taking 12 – 15 months on average rather than the service standard of 6 – 12 months – but the cost was much cheaper – $4575 if you applied onshore, and only $3085 if you applied offshore. The substantial price rise from 2014 to 2016 (over $2000 more expensive to apply in 2016) does not seem to have improved the program in any way, and the data only gets less encouraging as you go back – the advertised service standards do not alter, but the prices have continued to rise over time – in 2013, the Partner visa cost $2680 if it was applied for offshore, and $3975 if you applied onshore. In 2012, it was $1995 vs $2960 and in 2011 the prices were set at $1735 for the offshore visa application or $2575 for the onshore visa application.
This seems mind-blowingly cheap compared to the $6865 that all applicants pay today, but also raises some questions – if the onshore version of the Partner visa has always been more expensive, why has it suffered longer processing times in recent years? Was there justification for the additional expense of the onshore application, or have offshore applicants just suffered a disproportionate price hike for the sake of a uniform price?
Wherever the funds are allocated, Department officials must feel that it is not to them, with a recent announcement that almost 700 jobs are to be slashed from the Department – around 5% of their existing workforce and for almost two years, unions have been warning that the Department is under-resourced. Whether this will blow out application times even further, only time will tell.
How The Migration Place Can Help
While the average processing times for a Partner visa clearly vary widely, one of the most important and simple steps you can take to ensure a speedier processing time is to lodge a complete application with no errors – if the Department need to request more information of you, it generally adds about a month to the process each time. At The Migration Place, we have years of experience lodging complete and correct Partner visa applications, as well as celebrating many successful appeals against unfair or incorrect decisions in relation to Partner visas. We can assist you in preparing a complete application, or even just review your application before lodgement to ensure your hard-earned visa application fee is not lost to the coffers of the Department of Immigration. Call us today to discuss your options on +61 7 3229 4025