Lodging an application for a partner visa or spousal visa is a step that many couples take on the pathway to building a long-term future together in Australia.
Partner visa applications can be lodged overseas (309/100 visa, 300 visa) or in Australia (820/801 visa). In recent years, a high percentage of applicants have decided to lodge their partner visa application whilst they are physically in Australia, but is this the best path to take?
How Long Will My Partner Visa Take?
The enormous growth in the number of applications lodged in Australia has had a negative effect on partner visa processing times. According to the DIBP website (https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/801-) the average processing time for an 820 visa application (this is the provisional residence stage) is now 20 – 25 months! The average processing time for an 801 visa (this is the permanent residence stage) is now 16 – 22 months! This means that if you decide to submit a partner visa application whilst you are in Australia, you could be waiting for up to 4 years to become an Australian permanent resident! That’s a very long time.
According to the DIBP website, partner visa applications lodged overseas are being processed significantly faster – in almost half the time! We’ve been advised that some applications lodged overseas are being processed in weeks rather than months. The processing time seems to vary according to how busy the overseas DIBP office is. It looks like quality “assessment ready” applications are getting priority treatment too and we’ve noticed this across most of the visa categories that our team deals with. Getting it right is so important!
What if I am Already in Australia?
If you are already in Australia, for instance on a 457 or student visa, it probably makes sense to lodge your partner visa application onshore. If your current visa expires before a decision is made on your partner visa application you will usually transition onto a bridging visa, which allows you to stay in Australia anyway. Having said that, if your 457 or student visa doesn’t expire for another 3 years, you could consider submitting your partner visa application overseas as a way of getting yourself off your 457 visa or student visa in the shortest possible time. 457 visas and student visas can have quite restrictive work conditions and it can be useful to free yourself of these restrictions.
If I am not in Australia, What are my Options?
If you live overseas (i.e. not in Australia), your options would usually include the following:
Option 1: Come to Australia on a visitor visa and lodge your Partner visa whilst you are here.
Although this is a popular thing to do, it means people are blatantly abusing the visitor visa program which requires visitor visa holders to be “genuine temporary entrants.” DIBP has indicated that in the next few months the partner visa rules will change to stop people coming to Australia on a visitor visa and then lodging a partner visa application onshore.
Another consideration is children – if you have children who are not Australian Citizens or permanent residents and you lodge a partner visa application whilst you and your children are on holiday in Australia, you may find yourself having to pay international student fees for your children to attend school in Australia whilst you hold a visitor visa or bridging visa.
Option 2: Lodge your Partner visa offshore.
For many countries this may mean a faster processing time if the application is lodged “assessment ready” with all the supporting evidence provided. You may be able to obtain a visitor visa to come to Australia to visit your partner while your visa application is being processed. A visitor visa will not give you work rights.
Option 3: Apply for a Prospective Marriage visa (300 visa)
If you are genuinely planning to get married, this can be a good option. This visa must be lodged overseas. According to the DIBP website, the average processing time for a 300 visa is 12 months, but some applications will be processed faster. The quality of your application and the country in which to lodge your application can impact on processing times. The advantage of the Prospective Marriage visa is that you don’t need to be married or prove 12 months living together before you can apply.
How Hard is it to Prepare a Partner Visa Application?
From 18 November 2018, all partner visa applications must be submitted online. The online application is a lengthy and detailed application, which requires a large amount of information about you, your partner, your families, your previous relationships and a large number of supporting documents.
Partner visa applications are seldom straightforward and some are unbelievably complicated. Many applicants have been married before or they may be separated but not yet divorced. Many applicants have dependent children living with them or living with others. Some applicants (or their children) have significant health issues and these issues need to be addressed. Some visa applicants, their older kids or even their Australian or permanent resident sponsor will have police convictions or tax debts and these issues need to be addressed too.
According to DIBP statistics, approximately 20% of partner visa applications are refused. Our team enjoys an exceptional success rate with partner visa applications. We have a 100% success rate with our offshore partner visa applications and a 100% success rate with our onshore partner visa applications, where the visa applicant was holding a proper “substantive” visa when their application was submitted. Our experienced team of migration professionals work hard to ensure that our clients achieve the best possible visa outcomes!
Over the past 5 years we’ve developed a fabulous online partner visa preparation system that contains an interactive document list specifically tailored for partner visa applications and where you can upload your visa application paperwork. Each file contains instant messaging and can be accessed 24/7 from anywhere in the world, on a laptop or on a mobile phone. You see what we see, including any communications with the Department of Immigrations. Our online system makes the visa application process as transparent, efficient and speedy as possible. Our clients love it!
For people who want a quick way of working out whether they might be eligible to apply for a partner or Prospective Marriage visa, we’ve popped a really useful Partner Visa Eligibility Check tool on our website. It’s free and it’s fun!
As mentioned above, about 20 % of partner visa applications are refused! Don’t risk being one of the 1 in 5 to get their application refused. Consider getting top quality advice at this stage and call us on +61 8 9429 8860. If we don’t think you can meet the partner visa eligibility requirements, we’ll tell you so up front! If we are confident that you can meet the partner visa eligibility requirements, either now or in the near future, we’ll tell you so and we’ll be happy to take you on as a client. Partner visas are expensive. Dealing with a visa refusal can be expensive, stressful and soul destroying.
Getting great advice at the outset can save you a small fortune in the long run! Our motto is “Do it once and do it right!”
Contact Us Today for an Appointment or call us on +61 8 9429 8860