Here are some of the questions our team is most frequently asked about Australian partner visas and answers from our Registered Migration Agents.
1. My partner is a New Zealand citizen but resides in Australia – can I still apply for a partner visa?
Yes and no!
YES … if your partner is an eligible New Zealand citizen, and you and your partner can meet all partner visa eligibility requirements.
NO … if your NZ partner is not an eligible New Zealand citizen.
BUT … don’t forget the New Zealand Family Relationship (subclass 461) visa which is for the family members of New Zealand citizens, including spouses and defacto partners! It’s an awesome little visa that allows you to live in Australia for up to five years at a time and can be applied for in Australia or overseas. What is really interesting is that if you separate from your NZ partner after the 461 visa is granted you actually get to keep your 5 year visa! How cool is that?
2. How do I know if my partner is an “Eligible New Zealand citizen”?
Your partner must have:
a. been in Australia on 26 February 2001 on a SCV, and
b. have spent at least 12 months in Australia on a SCV in the 2 years immediately before 26 February 2001, or
c. have a Centrelink certificate from before 26 February 2004 that showing they were living in Australia.
If you apply for your provisional partner visa whilst you are overseas, you will need to be overseas when the visa is granted. (309/100)
If you apply for your provisional partner visa whilst you are in Australia, you will need to be in Australia when the visa is granted. (820/801)
These are important considerations.
3. What is a ‘defacto relationship’? What are the defacto requirements?
A ‘defacto relationship’ is basically a genuine relationship between two people who are not married but have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others and who live together or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis. You can apply for a partner visa on the basis of being in a ‘defacto relationship’ with an Australian citizen, permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen.
4. What are the defacto requirements?
Generally, for a partner visa application, each partner must be at least 18 years of age and able to demonstrate that they have lived together “as a couple” for at least 12 months prior to the date on which their partner visa application is actually submitted. Applicants will need to be able to provide a selection of documents that show that:
- you and your partner have committed to a shared life to the exclusion of all others
- your relationship is genuine and continuing
- you usually live together as a couple. The Department recognises that some people travel away from home for work purposes.
- your family, friends and workmates recognise you as a couple
Lots of supporting documents and other information will be required in order to satisfy the Department’s decision makers that you are in a defacto relationship. The quality of the documents provided to the Department can have a significant impact on your application and eventual outcome.
5. What if I haven’t lived with my partner for a full 12 months?
Even if you don’t meet the 12-month “living together” requirement, the Department may grant you a partner visa if:
a. You and your de facto partner have a dependent child together, and/or
b. you have registered your relationship with an Australian authority, such as a registry of births, deaths and marriages, in any State or Territory of Australia (other than Western Australia and the Northern Territory), and/or
c. You cannot live together for religious reasons, and/or
d. The law of your country does not allow you to live together
In the above situations you will still need to be able to demonstrate that you can meet all other defacto requirements.
6. What if we have spent time apart?
It’s not always essential to have spent a solid 12 months living together (with no gaps) in order to meet the 12-month requirement. Some partners can still meet the defacto requirements where they have had periods of separation but have not been separated or living apart on a permanent basis.
For example – a couple may need to move from Country A to Country B, but one partner needs to remain in Country A because of work, children or visa restrictions. Everyone’s situation is unique!
‘Fly-in, Fly-out’ (FIFO) workers are a little bit different as they have a structured, regular roster and the separation is on a temporary basis.
7. What is a registered relationship?
Some of the States and Territories of Australia have a Relationship Register which provides legal recognition of a relationship under the law of that State or Territory. Historically, this enabled States and Territories to recognise same-sex relationships before same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia in 2017.
All States and Territories of Australia, except for Western Australia and the Northern Territory, have a Relationships Register.
Each State or Territory has its own specific requirements, but they generally require both partners to be aged 18 years or over and not already married or in a registered relationship. There must be a connection with the State or Territory, usually in the form of being domiciled or ordinarily resident in that State or Territory. Interestingly, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia only require one partner to reside in the State whereas Tasmania and the ACT require both partners to be living in their State/Territory. The State of Western Australia and the Northern Territory do not have Relationships Registers … yet!
If you are considering registering your relationship, you should check the particular requirements of your State/Territory before applying. The requirements can (and do!) change from time to time!
It’s important to understand that registering a relationship is unlikely to result in a successful visa outcome unless you and your partner can meet all of the other partner visa eligibility requirements.
8. I have registered my relationship with one of the State/Territory’s registers – is this enough to apply for a partner visa?
Registering your relationship in an Australian State or Territory removes the “12 months living together” requirement. However, it’s important to understand that you will still need to provide solid evidence of all other aspects of your relationship (including living together, sharing of finances, nature of your commitment to each other etc.) in order to be eligible to be granted a partner visa.
9. Can I be in a de facto relationship while married to another person?
Amazingly …. yes, you can! ? However, you will need to be able to prove that you are genuinely separated from your previous spouse and that your relationship with your de facto partner is exclusive.
10. 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 application whilst you are here
This is a popular thing to do! However, visa applicants who do this are clearly abusing the visitor visa program which requires that all visitors to Australia be “genuine temporary entrants.” The Australian federal government has made it very clear that the partner visa rules are likely to change in order to prevent people coming into Australia on a visitor visa and then lodging a partner visa application whilst here.
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 hefty international student fees for your children to attend school in Australia. This can be an unexpected and sometimes unsustainable expense for bridging visa holders !
Option 2. Lodge your Partner visa offshore
Lodging your application overseas can result in a faster processing time, especially when the application is lodged “assessment ready” with top quality supporting evidence. Preparation is absolutely everything!
You may be able to obtain a visitor visa in order to spend some time in Australia whilst your partner visa application is being processed. Take note – a visitor visa will not give you work rights in Australia. In some instances, volunteer work may be okay.
Option 3. Apply for a Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa (PMV)
If you are genuinely planning to get married in the near future, either in Australia or overseas, then the PMV can be a good option.
According to the Department’s website, the average processing time for a PMV is 16 months, but many applications are processed significantly faster. The quality of your application and the country in which you are living can have a significant impact on the processing time.
The great thing about the PMV is that you don’t need to be married to your partner or prove 12 months living together before you apply.
Some people submit a PMV and then get married before it is granted. The good news is that the Department will allow you to convert your PMV visa to a subclass 309/100 visa at no extra cost.
11. Is there a limit on the number of partners a person can sponsor?
There is a strict limit on the number of partners a person can sponsor and a strict limit on the number of times a person can be sponsored for partner visa … and you can’t legally sponsor two partners at the same time!! This might sound like a strange thing to say, but you would be totally amazed by what some people try to do!
Although it may seem very unromantic, it is important to find out whether your partner has been involved in a previous partner visa application – either as a visa applicant or as a sponsor. This can have an important bearing on your application, especially if they try to hide previous sponsorships. Providing incorrect, misleading or false information as part of a visa application often leads to the application being refused.
In some circumstances, the strict limitation can be waived. Please book a consultation with one of our experienced registered migration consultants if you seek advice on a waiver.
12. Can I include children from a previous relationship as dependents in my application?
When minor children (i.e. under 18 years of age) are included in a visa application, the Department’s decision maker will want to ensure that every person with parental responsibility for a child/children has consented to the child/children being granted a visa and migrating to Australia.
Dependent children can only be included in an onshore partner visa application if they are onshore at the time of lodgement, and vice- versa for offshore partner visa applications. A dependent child not included in your initial partner visa application, can be added at the final assessment stage. You will need to hold a 309 or 820 visa, and your dependent child will need to have applied for and been granted a Dependent Child (subclass 445) visa.
In some circumstances, dependent children aged 18 years and over can be included in your visa application. It is important to get professional advice regarding your older children in order to find out whether they be included or not!
13. I’ve applied for a partner visa onshore while holding a student visa and my course is not complete. Can I stop studying?
NO, NO, NO!!!
Well actually, yes, you can stop studying but you may end up getting your student visa cancelled. It’s important to comply with the conditions attached to your student visa. A visa cancellation can be stressful, expensive and a nightmare to sort out … if indeed it can be sorted out!
If your student visa is cancelled, any bridging visa you may hold will also be cancelled and you will become an unlawful non-citizen.
If you hold a 457/TSS visa when you apply for your partner visa, you are still required to work for your employer sponsor until your 457/TSS visa expires OR until your partner visa is granted – whichever happens first.
14. I have been living with my partner for 5 years, can I get PR straight away because I have been with my partner for a long time?
Obtaining permanent residence as a partner visa applicant is usually a two-step process – there is a provisional partner visa and a permanent partner visa. Most applicants will receive the provisional (temporary) partner visa first and will become eligible to be assessed for the permanent partner visa two years from the date of the initial 820/801 or 309/100 visa application.
If you are in a ‘long-term partner relationship’, the Department may grant you the provisional and permanent partner visa on the same day. A ‘long-term partner relationship’ usually means that you have been in a married or defacto relationship for at least three years at the time of lodgement. This period can be reduced to two years if you have a dependent child. Additional evidence is generally required.
15. I have applied for a PMV but I want to get married now.
If you have applied for a Prospective Marriage visa, but you and your partner get married before a decision is made on your PMV application, the Department cannot grant you a PMV. Don’t despair!
The good news is that you can ‘convert’ your PMV application to an offshore partner visa application – 309/100.
You will need to notify the Department of your marriage ASAP; provide evidence that you are married (e.g. marriage registration certificate); request that your PMV is withdrawn and request that your application be “converted” to a partner visa application.
Be careful of the stuff you read in online forums!
A lot of partner visa applicants begin their research by looking through online forums where people share success stories and tips from their own partner visa applications. These stories can be interesting and reassuring (if they can do it, then so can I!), but be wary … some of the ‘advice’ provided in these forums is horribly incorrect and some is completely “made up”.
Migration law in Australia is constantly changing. The Department vets partner visa applications more thoroughly than ever before. What worked for one person may not work for you – everyone’s application is different and every application has its unique issues, strengths and weaknesses. Just because something worked for someone else ……
When a partner visa is granted, the Department does not include any feedback or tell you how your application satisfied the legislative requirements. The Department does, however, provide detailed feedback when your application is refused! If you are one of those unlucky souls who does find themselves with a partner visa refusal, it’s often worth getting a professional opinion on whether the application could have been granted had the supporting documentation been stronger. It’s sometimes possible to get a visa refusal overturned at the AAT.
When it comes to partner visas, you need to ensure that you have all essential partner visa building blocks in place before you submit your application. If you don’t have the necessary building blocks in place, no matter how much effort you put into the application you could get your application refused or the Department’s processing time could take months or years longer than you expected. You need a solid strategy!
“A goal without a plan is just a wish” and a strategy plan is critical to getting the best possible outcome.
A strategy plan involves a ruthless assessment of your eligibility; working out what evidence you have and what more you can get; preparing a timeline and making sure it’s achievable.
The quality of the evidence provided in support of your application can have a significant impact on the overall processing time. This can be particularly important if you and your partner are living in different countries or if you want to get off that bridging visa A as quickly as posisble!
We want you to get your partner visa granted … and ASAP!
Just remember, if you are eligible to apply for a partner visa; have an excellent visa strategy and take the time to put the correct building blocks in place – you are planning for success!
If you are ready to kick start the partner visa application process, book your FREE strategy session call now. One call might be all you need to point you in the right direction.
We have given you some really useful pointers. If you have any questions, or want help getting your visa strategy as good as it can be, get in touch today.
What’s more … we are offering you a free 10-minute partner visa strategy session with one of partner visa team.
You’ll get the chance to speak to one of our highly experienced migration consultants. Our partner visa team enjoys a 100% success rate with partner visas … and you can’t get better than that! Preparation makes perfect!
If you are ready to kick start the partner visa application process, book your FREE strategy session call now.
By the way, we recommend that you book quickly! Our migration consultants have a limited number of free sessions to offer each month … and this month’s sessions are going fast!
All partner visa applicants are required to meet Australia’s health and character requirements. If you have any health issues or if you or your partner have any convictions, it is important that these are fully disclosed in your application. Some health and character issues can have a negative impact on a partner visa application and may result in your application being refused. Our team of experienced registered migration consultants regularly deal with applicants and sponsors with health and character issues. Our team will be happy to discuss these types of issues with you and assess the impact heath or character issues may have on your application. Receiving professional advice can be a lifesaver!
Disclaimer: Although we aim to provide accurate information on our website, we do not accept responsibility for errors or omissions. Australian immigration law is constantly changing. Consequently, the information provided on this website must not be used as immigration advice or assistance. There is no substitute for up-to-date advice and assistance from an Australian registered migration agent.