If you are in a relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen, this is the best time to apply for a Partner visa ​(onshore/offshore).

There have been recent developments affecting both onshore and offshore Partner visa applications, including the visa requirements, application processes and processing times.

Travel Restrictions

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19, or Coronavirus, pandemic, the Australian government has implemented numerous travel restrictions for visa holders wishing to enter Australia.

Categories of people who may currently enter Australia without obtaining an exemption include Australian citizens and permanent residents as well as immediate family members of an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

However, immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents who hold a temporary visa must provide proof of their relationship (for example marriage certificate, or evidence of de-facto relationship) in order to qualify for a travel exemption.

Importantly, if you hold a Partner visa (subclasses 100, 309, 801, 820) you do not need to request an exemption to Australia’s travel restrictions, you can come to Australia.

Longer Processing Times

The Covid-19 pandemic has also resulted in prolonged processing times for certain visas.

Processing times are impacted by a range of factors, including the number of applications handled by the Department of Home Affairs, and it is likely we may see even longer processing times in the months ahead.

Therefore, we recommend lodging your Partner Visa early to prevent any further delay.

English Language Requirement

Although meeting minimum standards of English language proficiency standards are not part of the current Partner visa requirements, this is flagged to change during the course of 2021.

According to the Federal Budget handed down on 6 October 2020:

“The Government will introduce English language requirements for Partner visa applicants and their permanent resident sponsors. These changes will help support English language acquisition and enhance social cohesion and economic participation outcomes.”

It is expected that Partner visa applicants will be required to show at least functional level English to qualify for the visa. Various options for English language tests are to be made available, for example the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Pearson Test of English (PTE).

Sponsorship Application Requirement

In November 2018, the Australian Parliament approved he Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2018.

Under the new provisions, the government must first approve the Australian partner as a sponsor before an application can be made for the Partner visa.

These changes will result in stricter eligibility requirements and a prolonged application process for both onshore and offshore applicants. Effects of the changes may include:

  • Separating sponsorship assessments from the visa application process for Partner visas
  • Imposing statutory obligations on persons who are approved as family sponsors
  • Providing sanctions if sponsor obligations are not met
  • Mandating character checks and standards for sponsors
  • Improving the management of family violence in the delivery of the family sponsored visa program by enabling the refusal of a sponsorship applications.

Summary

If you are in the process of preparing your Partner visa application and commence your path towards permanent residence in Australia, then you may want to lodge your application before the flagged changes take effect.

If you have any questions regarding the above, or require any other immigration assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us at mail@themigrationplace.com or by phone on +61 7 3229 4025. Our experienced and knowledgeable migration solicitors, who are also registered migration agents, would be happy to help.