Australian Partner Visas

Introduction to Australian Partner Visas

Welcome to CP International and Dr Visa’s Guide to Australian Partner Visas.

What follows is the result of our 22+ years of everyday experience in helping Australian citizens and permanent residents sponsor the love of their lives to be with them in Australia.

Whether it’s normal couples, same sex couples, transgenders, couples with children from two prior marriages or divorcees who didn’t know they were still married… we’ve seen it all and done it all.

This guide is our way of letting prospective Australian partner visa applicants and their sponsors know exactly what to expect on their journey, based on what we have witnessed and helped with in our time as practicing Australian Registered Migration Agents (RMA). We are hoping that it can help you avoid some of the pitfalls that people commonly come across with partner visas and also better inform you if you should engage a professional Registered Migration Agent to help with your case.

As a sneak peak, here are some of the more common things that we find our clients usually want to know, and that we will answer in this guide:

  • How does a couple establish a 12-month cohabitation requirement for de facto purposes?
  • Can the 2-year temporary partner visa stage be skipped?
  • Are there any exemptions for the 12-month cohabitation requirement?
  • Are health waivers available where the applicant has a serious medical issue?
  • How does one deal with domestic/family violence issues?
  • Can the applicant (or sponsor) bring their children from a previous relationship?
  • Are there alternatives to including the children in the visa application?

The whole objective of this guide (and what we do at CP International) is to help make sure that you and your partner are together in Australia as soon as possible, and as problem-free as possible.

Introducing a Sponsor and Applicant: Tom and Malee

Sponsor Applicant Tom Malee

To get started, we would like to introduce you to the couple above – Tom and Malee. Their story is quite real, but their names and some minor details have obviously been changed for privacy reasons.

Malee is the “applicant” – the partner who is applying for the partner visa.

Tom is the “sponsor” – the Australian citizen/permanent resident who is sponsoring their partner to join him/her in Australia.

Tom is an Australian citizen and 31 years old, and Malee is a Thai national and 29 years old. Malee met Tom about 5 years ago through mutual friends while she was studying in Melbourne as a Masters’ student at RMIT. Their story is very sweet, and actually quite “normal” for how people meet, get to know each other and fall in love today.

They were introduced by friends, and “hung out” and got to know each other for a few months before they started dating. A few months later, they committed to being in a relationship together, which continued on until Malee finished her studies and returned to Thailand.

During this time, they went long distance as Malee had to return to Thailand after her studies. They both made a few trips back/forth between Australia and Thailand to visit each other, and also travelled together to other places like Singapore, Vietnam and Bali. The last couple of times Tom was in Thailand, he met Malee’s family in Bangkok and Malee has also met Tom’s family in Melbourne a number of times in the past.

A little over a year ago, Tom decided that Malee was the one, and proposed to her. They recently were married and are now deciding what their future together will look like.

Like many couples from different countries, they face the decision of where to settle – Thailand or Australia. While Tom is the adventurous sort and wouldn’t mind settling in Bangkok, Malee really fell in love with Australia (and Tom!) while she was in Melbourne and wants to settle there. And so they both begin the process of working out how to legally sponsor Malee to join Tom in Australia.

And this is where Tom and Malee’s Australian partner visa journey begins.

Start your own visa journey the right way by booking a consultation with one of our Australian Registered Migration Agents.


Types of Partner Visas

Types of Australian Partner Visas

Tom and Malee did not seek out an Australian Registered Migration Agent (RMA) to begin with – they began the journey, as most couples do, themselves, with some online research.

But if they had begun with some professional advice, here’s what an RMA would have told them.

Let’s start by clarifying the term “partner visa”, as there are many different types of partner visas and it can be confusing as to which is which.

So what exactly is an Australian partner visa?

It is a permanent visa for individuals who have a partner or spouse who is an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen, and want to live in Australia with them.

Most partner visas are actually two-stage visas, consisting of a temporary visa held for two years, then progressing to a permanent visa after.

Note: Australian citizenship is a separate matter.

In Australia, there are currently 3 categories of partner visas:

  1. Prospective Marriage Visa (subclass 300).
  2. Onshore Partner Visa (subclasses 820/801).
  3. Offshore Partner Visa (subclasses 309/100).
Australian Partner Visa Types
Australian Partner Visa Types

Let’s take a look at each of these.

Prospective Marriage Visa (Subclass 300)

Prospective Marriage Visa Subclass 300

The prospective marriage visa is also known as the fiance/fiancee visa. It is a pathway to a subclass 820/801 onshore partner visa, and needs to be applied for from offshore.

It essentially exists for someone to be granted the right to come to Australia and to get married within 9 months, whilst in Australia.

Why does this visa exist?

Perhaps the couple are not 100% sure about each other, or they want to specifically be married in Australia.

Onshore Partner Visa (Subclasses 820/801)

Onshore Partner Visa Subclasses 820/801

In the migration world we like to use confusing terms like “onshore” and “offshore”. In this case, “onshore” simply means “in Australia”, meaning that the visa applicant (the one being sponsored) has to be present physically inside Australia to apply for this visa. This also means they have to hold some other sort of temporary visa to be in Australia at the time.

Because of the way that the Migration Regulations are written, the applicant will also have to be physically present in Australia for the visa to be granted (approved).

So what does this mean in practical terms?

Let’s say the visa applicant is in Australia on a visitor/tourist visa, and they lodge an onshore partner visa application. This is what happens:

  1. The visa applicant remains on their current visa until it expires.
  2. The visa applicant is issued what is called a Bridging Visa A (“BVA”) which is the temporary visa they will hold once their visitor visa expires and before their temporary partner visa is granted.
  3. Once the partner visa is granted, the BVA will “expire” and the applicant will then hold a subclass 820 temporary onshore partner visa.
  4. Approximately 2 years later, the applicant will be eligible to apply for a permanent onshore partner visa (subclass 801). Once all the further documentation has been assembled and lodged successfully, the applicant can be granted their permanent onshore partner visa.

What is noteworthy about the Onshore Partner Visa is that the visa applicant can remain in Australia with their sponsor the entire time, and will have most of the rights of a permanent resident once their BVA becomes active, including the right to work.

Offshore Partner Visa (Subclasses 309/100)

Offshore Partner Visa Subclasses 309/100

And now onto offshore.

As you would expect by its very name, an Offshore Partner Visa means that the visa applicant must be physically outside of Australia to apply for this visa, and they also have to be physically outside of Australia for it to be granted.

Once the visa is granted, the visa applicant can enter Australia to be with their partner on a temporary offshore partner visa (subclass 309).

Now you may be asking – how do we maintain our relationship (and show it) while we’re apart?

That’s simple – frequent communication, electronic or otherwise, and travel to see each other. The applicant will still be able to apply for a visitor visa to visit Australia during the processing period. The Department (of Home Affairs) is also aware that couples like to be together, and so the processing time for an offshore partner visa is often shorter than that for the onshore partner visa.

As with the onshore partner visa, the remainder of the process is the same:

  • Approximately 2 years after the subclass 309 visa has been granted, the applicant will be eligible to apply for a permanent offshore partner visa (subclass 100). Once all the further documentation has assembled and lodged successfully, the applicant can be granted the permanent offshore partner visa.

You may also be wondering – why would anyone apply for the offshore version instead of the onshore version?

The answer that sometimes people cannot lodge onshore for various reasons – whether it is because they are staying illegally, have a “no further stay” condition on their current visa or simply cannot travel to Australia to do so.

Other Visa Types

There are no other partner visa types. A visitor visa for your partner/spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend to visit you in Australia is not a partner visa, and does not afford them work or residency rights in Australia – it is simply a normal tourist visa for visiting Australia.

And having someone as a dependent on a temporary/permanent visa is a whole different matter (and not really applicable here – but do get in touch with us if you need help with that).

The next question is: which visa is best for me and my partner?

And to answer that, let’s go back to Tom and Malee.

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What You Need to Know About Australian Partner Visas

What You Need to Know About Australian Partner Visas

Where we last left Tom and Malee, they were jumping online to do some research about partner visas.

Tom pulls up the Department’s website and says, “Hmmm… this looks simple enough and… #!#%@!!*& IT COSTS OVER $7,000!”

That’s correct – Australia has one of the most expensive partner visa application fees in the world. And no, you do not get it back if your visa is refused.

Having been shocked into a moment of clarity, Tom starts to think – maybe, just maybe, they should research this a bit more before just filling in the form and sending it in. After all, if it goes wrong… not only does Malee not get to come to Australia, but that’s $7,000+ gone as well!

Malee has always been a little better at the research thing so Tom asks her to help him out.

And so she does.

And that’s where it starts to get confusing.

Their FaceTime call goes a bit like this:

Malee: “Honey, why are there two visas?”
Tom: “I’m not sure.”

Malee: “Why is one of them temporary?”
Tom: “I’m not sure.”

Malee: “Do I have to get my documents translated?”
Tom: “Ummm…”

Malee: “The text boxes on the forms seem really small – how are we going to describe the last 5 years of knowing each other in this tiny space?”
Tom: “Ughh…”

Malee: “Oh, this one I know. My dad can hook us up with a Thai police certificate!”
Tom: (to himself – “Finally, some good news!”)

Malee: (sends Tom the Form 80 link) “Can you help me fill this in honey?”
Tom: “@#$!#$!$!#”

At this point not only are Tom and Malee even more confused, but they are also starting to get a bit frustrated. They decide that it is time for some professional help.

Get the right professional help for your Australian Partner Visa. Contact Us today!


“She’ll be right”

She'll Be Right

In Australia we have an expression: “She’ll be right mate.”

It roughly means: “Don’t worry about it, things will figure themselves out.”

This attitude will absolutely not work with your partner visa.

The Australian visa and migration system has to be the most gruelling, frustrating and bureaucratic nightmares ever conceived by humankind. Trust us, we do this daily!

The system is incredibly not transparent and processing times are very, very long. Every small and minute detail absolutely matters, even when you don’t think it does. The law is complex and often written in overlapping layers of acts, regulations and policy.

And especially with partner visas, there is a lot of “human factor” involved where case officers (the person assessing your visa) have a very wide discretion on how they can and will assess cases.

There are also unofficial “visa caps” in place, to limit the number of partners allowed into Australia every year.

Oh and did we mention that partner visas are one of the most expensive Australian visas available? And that they are also one of the most expensive partner visas in the world?

How to Apply for an Australian Partner Visa

How to Apply for an Australian Partner Visas

Most people begin their Australian partner visa journey at the Department of Home Affairs website. This is not a bad idea actually. But their hope and enthusiasm often turns very quickly into frustration as the process really is not that simple (unless you have the time to take a crash course in Australian migration law as well), which is why we recommend that everyone use a registered migration agent.

Let’s get this out of the way: we are Australian registered migration agents. That’s what we do, day-in-day-out. And we highly recommend that when you have an immigration matter, that you use an Australian registered migration agent – preferably us, but if not, then at least someone whose record appears on the OMARA website.

Why do we recommend using a migration agent?

The main reason is that it will save you a lot (and we do mean a lot) of time. Yes, you can apply for every single Australian visa yourself… but it takes time. Time to read, research, understand the law and at least dozens of hours for each visa application (have you seen Form 80?)

Plus at one-stop services like CP International, we can also help you translate your documents into English, file for police checks etc as part of the service – saving you both time and money.

You’ll also be able to avoid unnecessary complications and small mistakes up front, such as:

  • What to say.
  • What NOT to say (just as important).
  • Mistakes in timing when: lodging, following up, and handling bridging visas.

On top of all this, your case will be handled by a professional who does this on a daily basis. Much like a doctor, you have to go to school to study to be a Registered Migration Agent, and you have to be licensed by the Australian Government.

If you were sick, you would not self-prescribe medication or (gasp) self-perform surgery. Similarly, we would not recommend self-handling your partner visa matter.

Is there any good news about Australian partner visas?

Good News About Australian Partner Visas

Well, yes there is.

At the very, very basic level – all that is required for an Australian partner visa is to be in a genuine, exclusive relationship, and to have spent time together. This could be 6-12 months with a marriage or a registered relationship, or 12+ months in a de facto (common law) relationship.

There are no English, skill or other requirements*.

*You still have to do a health check. If you have a serious condition, then a case may be made that you still qualify – it will really be up to how good a legal argument your RMA can help you present.

So in a way… all you need is love.

Spouses and De Facto Partners

Spouse and De Facto Partner

Something else that you need to know about Australian partner visas is how Australian law, and specifically, Australian migration law, defines spouses and de facto partners.

A spouse is someone with whom:

  • You are married to in a marriage that is valid under Australian law.
  • You have a mutual commitment to a shared life together with, to the exclusion of all others.
  • You have a genuine and continuing relationship with.
  • You live together with on a permanent basis (temporary “separation” for work etc is OK).

A de facto partner is someone with whom:

  • You have a mutual commitment to a shared life together with, to the exclusion of all others.
  • You have a genuine and continuing relationship with.
  • You live together with on a permanent basis (temporary “separation” for work etc is OK).
  • You are not related by family.

An important one to note here is “mutual commitment to a shared life, to the exclusion of all others” – you cannot apply for a partner visa or sponsor a partner if either of you are dating multiple people.

Documented Love

Documented Love

We mentioned above that “all you need is love” for a partner visa.

This is only partially true.

It’s time for some “migration industry insider” information about exactly how the Department assesses partner visa cases.

What the Department is really looking for is Documented Love.

CP International Australian Partner Visas 4 Pillars of Relationships

You need to satisfy the case officer that your relationship is genuine across four different areas, known as the “four pillars of a relationship”. Think of these as the legs to your metaphorical relationship table. They are:

  1. Financial Aspects.
  2. Nature of the Household.
  3. Social Aspects.
  4. Nature of Commitment.

Let’s look at each of these briefly in turn.

Financial Aspects are what they sound like. Do you have joint finances? Do you have joint financial commitments (loans, mortgages, cars)? Are your household expenses shared?

The Nature of the Household asks: do you live together day-to-day like partners should? For example, do you live in the same house, do you have children, and do you share housework?

Social Aspects look at whether you present yourself as a couple socially (both online and offline), and if you travel together.

The Nature of Commitment looks at… well, how committed you are to each other. Do you have a marriage certificate or a registered relationship? Do your stories match up (at interview)? Your sex life also falls under this particular pillar.

These four pillars must both be explained AND evidenced in your application in order to prove your case to the Department. This is what we mean by “Documented Love”.

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When Things Go Wrong

When Things Go Wrong

We have helped with a lot of couples attain partner visas over the last 20+ years. We have seen a lot of straightforward cases and a lot of complex cases, as well as everything in-between. Unfortunately, we have also seen what happens when things go wrong.

Here’s an example of what happens when a couple doesn’t do their application correctly, or doesn’t follow the advice they have received from a migration agent. This is a real case and the couple lodged the case themselves and had it refused before bringing it to us. We re-lodged and the visa was granted in record time (2.5 months!)*.

* Again, certain identifying details have been changed for privacy reasons.

Luke and Jade lodged their own onshore partner visa application with the Department. They filled in the forms online in a straightforward manner, put in the details they thought were relevant and attached a couple of pieces of evidence to support their case… and that was it.

In the refusal letter from the Department, here’s what the case officer outlined:

Financially, there was no real evidence that finances were shared between the couple apart from a single joint bank account. Additionally, there was an unexplained large injection of funds into the joint account that was not supported by evidence.

Lesson: The Department WILL go through your bank statements and finances in detail. They want clear and transparent explanations for everything that is happening… even if you don’t think it’s any of their business.

For the Nature of Household, the couple wrote statements about knowing each other’s families and provided statements from Luke’s family detailing their knowledge of Jade. Unfortunately, the Department did not accept this as there was no evidence attached apart from the statements.

Lesson: Any claims made in writing must also be backed up with other evidence.

Socially, Luke and Jade provided five photographs of them together, at social gatherings. There were no photos of just the two of them – only photos of them in groups of other people.

Lesson: 5 photographs over a 4 year relationship and no couple’s selfies? Even WE think that’s crazy.

For the Nature of Commitment, the case officer mentioned that any statutory declarations made by the sponsor and applicant would be interpreted in light of other evidence provided. Because the other provided evidence was so sparse and thin in nature… the case officer simply gave their written statements little to no weight at all.

The big lesson here is this: you must provide evidence to the Department and you must know how to line it up and present in properly in your statements and application.

Note that the opposite is also true – if evidence is fabricated (that’s a big no-no) or there seems to be just a bit too much of it, the Department will become suspicious of whether the relationship has been manufactured for the purpose of attaining residency. The key is to provide just the right amount of evidence, and to know how to present it clearly to the Department.

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Myths and Facts

Myths and Facts

There is a lot of misinformation floating around on the Internet about partner visas – on websites, in Facebook groups, and on forums.

In Australia, only Registered Migration Agents and immigration lawyers can legally provide advice regarding immigration law and there’s a very good reason for this – it is complex and requires university-level qualifications and experience.

On the Internet unfortunately, anyone can voice their opinion on visa matters.

It is because of this that after many hours of trying to decipher cryptic messages on Internet forums, Tom and Malee finally decided to consult with a migration agent.

Note: You can consult with a migration agent and then go do the case yourself – most won’t actually mind. But please, please, please get some professional advice upfront to save yourself a lot of time and heartache.

Through a friend of a friend, Tom made a consultation with a registered migration agent – us! As with all consultations, we walked them through the process, answered all their questions and also helped clarify some of the common myths and facts about partner visas.

In Tom and Malee’s case, we helped them with:

  • A document checklist.
  • Letting them know what evidence was relevant – and which was not.
  • Helping them get all their documents and information logically lined up and in order.
  • Advising them on what would make their application stronger, and what would make it look weak/questionable.
  • Letting them know there would be a possibility of skipping the 2-year temporary visa if their case was presented to the department in the right way.
  • Advising them on how to structure travels and lodgements so they could be physically together as soon as possible.

Here are some of the other myths and facts that we often help clarify for clients like Tom and Malee – think of these as “tricks of the trade” for migration agents.

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Myths and Facts about Partner Visa Documentation

“If I follow the document checklist, that alone is enough to have my visa granted.”
The quality of your documents is equally if not more important than what is on the checklist.

“The Department (of Home Affairs) will tell me if they do not have enough information or documents.”
The DHA’s case officers are not paid to teach you how to apply for a visa – they are there to assess and judge your application. It is YOUR (or your RMA’s) responsibility to make sure that a complete application with evidence is presented upfront to the case officer for immediate assessment.

An RMA can help you check over your documents and information, even if you want to lodge it yourself – just contact us here to find out how.

“I’ll upload some of my documents now and send more later.”
MYTH: We strongly discourage this, because if you come across a case officer in a hurry, they will assess your documents then and there and provide you with an outcome right away, which will likely be a refusal if your documents are incomplete.

“A joint bank account makes it easier to get a visa.”
FACT: Yes, a joint bank account in both your names helps with the Financial Aspect of your relationship – but it does not guarantee a visa grant. As per the “when it all goes wrong” case study above, the Department often digs deeper and really wants to understand how your finances work as a couple.

“We don’t really need to document our relationship… do we?”
MYTH: Remember, the case officer has not met you in person and can only “witness” it through your application and documentation. If you don’t show them any evidence or documents, they can’t see anything!

“The more evidence, the better a chance of a grant.”
FACT: To a certain degree. While case officers are obligated under law to examine ALL documents attached to an application, if you send them a lot of random, unrelated documents, your application processing will just be delayed. This is where an RMA can help you categorise and streamline your application and evidence to make sure that the case officer can understand your relationship in a logical flow, as quickly as possible.

“The Department can read my private (online) messages.”
FACT: Yes, the Department can read your private Facebook, Instagram and other messages, courtesy of the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018.

“If I give my partner lots of gifts that helps my application.”
FACT: Only if those gifts are part of a more complete application that covers all the aspects of the relationship.

Myths and Facts about Marriage for Partner Visas

“Being married means my spouse can automatically get a partner visa.”
MYTH: Marriage certificate or not, every couple has to lodge an Australian partner visa application for the applicant to get a partner visa.

“As long as the marriage is not fake, the visa will be granted.”
MYTH: It is up to you to prove via your application to the Department that the marriage is not fake.

“An Australian marriage certificate is enough for my partner to get a visa.”
MYTH: The Department will certainly give weight to your marriage certificate, but they will also assess the other evidence you provide (or don’t provide).

“I only have to get married in Australia, not other countries.”
FACT: You only have to get married in one country where the marriage is valid under Australian law. For example, in some countries couples the age of 15 can be married – but this would not be valid under Australian law. To be on the safe side, we usually recommend clients get married in Australia.

Myths and Facts about Registered Migration Agents

“Using a migration agent is a waste of money as all they do is fill in forms.”
MYTH: Seeing an Australian Registered Migration Agent is like seeing a doctor. You probably don’t want someone not qualified to perform a medical diagnosis or operation for a condition you have, and you similarly don’t want someone not qualified to assess and operate on your partner visa case.

A good RMA will explain to you which visa options and pathways are the most suitable for you, and also help you arrange your case so that case officers can understand it better, which all increases the probability of a successful visa grant.

“Using a migration agent is a waste of time as I know my relationship better than they do.”
MYTH: While you will know your relationship better than an RMA, they understand Australian migration law, regulation and policy better than you do. This will save you both time and money – yes, forms are time-consuming to fill out and having to fill them out more than once because you got it wrong is even more time-consuming. More importantly, RMAs can help you avoid the little pitfalls like lodging your application too early or too late, and also help you navigate tricky things like bridging visas and visa conditions.

Want an RMA to help with your application? Just book a consultation with us today to get started!


Myths and Facts about Timing, Processing and Processing Time for Partner Visas

“I just met this AMAZING man/woman and we just started going out and I want to sponsor him/her now!”
MYTH: No, you need to be together for at least 6-12 months before lodging for a partner visa. The length of time depends on if you are married, in a registered relationship or de facto.

“I can’t leave Australia/my home country during the processing period.”
MYTH: If you are onshore and on a BVA, you can leave Australia by applying for travel rights (ask us how). If you are offshore, you are free to travel as you normally would.

“The Department is going to come and visit me at home.”
FACT: MAYBE. They have been known to visit applicant/sponsor residences, as well as hometowns.

“I have to interview with the Department.”
FACT: MAYBE. Some applicants are asked to interview, some are not.

“OMG the processing time is HOW LONG?”
FACT: At the time of writing, the processing time is:

  • Onshore Subclass 820 – 28 months.
  • Onshore Subclass 801 – 26 months.
  • Offshore Subclass 309 – 20 months.
  • Offshore Subclass 100 – 34 months.
  • Prospective Marriage Subclass 300 – 21 months.

Yes, the processing time is actually a really, really, really long time and we aren’t exactly thrilled about it either. But it is the result of government policy/politics. And yes, we completely understand that it is difficult for couples in their working years to put their careers and lives on hold and wait to find out if they need to find new employment in Australia or not 😞.

Myths and Facts about Children for Partner Visas

“I can sponsor my children while I’m on a temporary partner visa.”
FACT: Yes you can, but it would have been better if they had been included in your initial application. The sooner you partner and you decide on this and tell us/your RMA about wanting to sponsor your existing children, the better.

“I can just wait to sponsor my children once I’ve become an Australian Permanent Resident.”
FACT: Yes you can, but the visa subclass and application is substantially different.

Miscellaneous Myths and Facts

“I’m an Australian permanent resident and I can sponsor my partner on a partner visa.”
FACT: Yes you can.

“I have multiple partners and I can/want to sponsor all of them!”
MYTH: Under Australian law, you cannot be in a marriage or de facto relationship with more than one person.

“Mistakes can be made in the application and fixed later.”
MYTH: Anything to do with the law (i.e., your visa application) is a matter of record, and the documents you submit will be kept by the government pretty much forever. You must ensure that you do not upload or submit documents that may be accidentally detrimental to your current or future visa/citizenship applications. This will also apply internationally, as Australia sometimes shares its records with select other countries (for example, the UK and the USA).

“My friends had their partner visa granted and they said it was really easy so I’ll just copy what they did.
MYTH: Not all relationships are the same and therefore the documentation and information required to prove any given relationship will also not be the same. It really is on a “case by case” basis. There’s nothing wrong with learning from your friend or online forums, but a bit of professional help will really save you a lot of time and money here.

“A visitor visa is just as good as a partner visa and it’s cheaper!”
MYTH: A visitor visa is a temporary visa that does not afford your partner any work or residency rights, such as Medicare access.

“It doesn’t matter what state my sponsor lives in.”
FACT: Correct, it does not matter.

“I’m just using my sponsor to get permanent residency after which we plan to split up. I’ve been told that’s OK.”
MYTH: Your relationship must be both genuine AND continuing. If however, after you become a permanent resident your relationship breaks down, then that is a personal matter outside the purview of the Department.

“OMG it costs over $7,000 for a partner visa!”
FACT: The visa application charge (VAC), which is paid directly to the Department of Home Affairs, is a little over $7,000 at time of writing. This is separate of any professional fees charged my an RMA, and does not include other costs such as police clearances or translations. And yes, the VAC tends to go up every year.

“I’ve heard that there are going to be major changes to partner visas coming soon.”
FACT: We have heard similar, but nothing is official yet. The general rule with migration law changes is that until they are written into law, they are not official. The Department generally does not have a policy of notifying the industry when they will make changes, despite what you see on television from time to time.

We advise clients that if they think they qualify for any visa (including partner visas) now, then come see us now and apply now before anything changes. Changes usually make visas more complicated and more expensive.

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When It All Works Out

When It All Works Out

With our help, Malee applied for an onshore partner visa while she was visiting Tom in Melbourne and was subsequently granted a subclass 820 onshore partner visa only 6 months after applying!

The great thing about this is that while waiting, Malee received all the benefits of being an Australian permanent resident (while not technically yet being one) and she and Tom were able to be together the entire time.

And in Tom and Malee’s case, not only was Malee granted a subclass 820 visa… she was granted a subclass 801 at the same time under the “long-term relationship” policy of the Department.

And last we spoke to them, Malee and Tom are still living happily ever after!

Be our next partner visa success story – speak with an Australian Registered Migration Agent today so that you can also live happily ever after!


Frequently Asked Questions and Common Situations about Australian Partner Visas

Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

Shortly after Malee’s visa was granted, we actually receiving a nice thank you email from Tom and her, and also a question asking if they could refer some of their friends to us – and our answer was: absolutely.

This is extremely common – couples like Tom and Malee who have received a successful partner visa grant realise that a lot of their friends are just like them. Tom has a lot of friends who have met the love of their lives when said love was visiting Australia. And Malee of course, has many friends visit who have caught the eye of some dashing Australian gentlemen or beautiful Australian lady.

And because their visa process went so smoothly, these friends often ask them:

And Tom and Malee usually just smile and tell them:

“Look, you should try to understand the visa process yourself as much as you can, so you know what you’re going to be getting yourself into. But if you really want to save time and money… go talk to a migration agent. You don’t have to work with them if you don’t want to, but at least go to a consultation with one, and have them look over your situation and documents – it will save you time, money and heartache, in case something goes wrong. This is going to be one of the most important things of your life… so it is WORTH IT to get it right the first time.”

In line with that, here are some of the common situations, scenarios, questions and answers that we encounter with partner visa clients.

Common Situations and Scenarios

Normal Couples

“Normal couples” are couples like Tom and Malee who follow a typical meet, friends, date, relationship and marriage pattern.

Been together for many years

These couples are eligible to qualify for a permanent visa right away under the “long-term relationship” provisions of the law, but the evidence and information has to be presented the right way to the Department.

Children from prior marriage(s)

This is very common and not an issue. Sometimes two people meet and they both already have children and they want to bring their families together, and that’s perfectly fine.

The things to remember about this are:

  1. Your children must be dependents (usually this means under 18), and
  2. The sooner you decide to bring you children and let your RMA know, the better, as this gives you more options.

Long-distance couples

These are couples who live in a different state or country for work/other reasons. This is not a problem, so long as there is a legitimate reason for it and we can construct a solid case with evidence for the relationship.

Age-disparate couples

This is where one partner is substantially older than the other – perhaps by 20 years!

This is not a problem at all, so long as the relationship is genuine and the relationship is valid/legal under Australian law. In fact, many of our clients fall into this category.

Divorcees/Getting Divorced

This is where one partner is divorced or in the process of getting divorced. It usually is not an issue, and really comes down to the timing of the relationships, divorce and lodgement.

LGBT – same sex, lesbian, gay, bi, transgender (including ladyboys and change of preference)

Dr Visa Same Sex Marriage

Been there, done that. We actually handle a lot of non-heterosexual partner visas at CP International.

Common Questions and Answers

Question: Do the applicant and sponsor have to give the exact same information?
Answer: Well, yes. Both of you should at least agree on when you first met, where you first met, when you started the relationship and when you were together/moved in together.

Question: How many times can I sponsor someone?
Answer: As an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you get two opportunities in your life to sponsor a partner unless there are very compelling/compassionate circumstances (for example, your spouse has passed away). This law is in place to prevent a repeat of the mail order bride mania of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Question: How often can I sponsor someone?
Answer: Once every five years unless again, there are very compelling/compassionate circumstances.

Question: Can we still apply for a partner visa if we are not married, not registered in a relationship and haven’t spent any real time together?
Answer: Not really, no. If you have just started your relationship, it is worth speaking briefly with a migration agent and they can advise you how to optimally plan your options, visa pathways and documentation so that you can apply as soon as possible.

Question: My Australian child sponsored me under a contributory parent visa. I now want to sponsor my partner – can I do that?
Answer: Yes, but you must wait 5 years if you want to sponsor them under a partner visa. Your child can sponsor them immediately under another contributory parent visa – but the second visa application charge will be similarly high.

Question: Can we apply for a partner visa if the applicant does not hold a visa or is unlawful?
Answer: Yes you can, but this definitely qualifies as a “get professional help” situation. We highly, highly recommend seeing a Registered Migration Agent to help guide you through it. The applicant is at risk of being caught by the Department and put into detention and questioned, or worse, deported and banned from returning. There are ways to legally navigate this and a migration agent can help you with that.

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Question: I have experienced family/domestic violence from my sponsor. What can I do?
Answer: In Australia, domestic/family violence is considered utterly unacceptable by the community and by law.

If you are the applicant being sponsored and your sponsor commits family violence against you, you have the right to report it to the authorities and you may be granted permanent residency under certain circumstances.

The general process is to get yourself to safety first, then to establish when/where the family violence took place and then to report it to the authorities for assessment they (and the Department) will proceed accordingly.

Note: We have helped a number of clients who were the victims of family violence successfully transition to permanent residency. You can contact us about your situation here.

Question: What are some examples of family violence?
Answer: Family violence is more encompassing than most people realise.

It can be committed against:

  • The applicant.
  • Any members of the family unit, including children.
  • Property, including pets.

The alleged perpetrator must be the sponsor/de facto partner, and the violence must take place during the relationship inside Australia.

The violence can be physical, emotional or psychological in nature.

Some common examples include:

  • Assault.
  • Sexual assault/abuse.
  • Stalking.
  • Derogatory taunts.
  • Destruction of property.
  • Death/injury to pets.
  • Denying financial autonomy.
  • Withholding reasonable financial support.
  • Isolation from friends or family.
  • Deprivation of liberty.

Question: We are expecting a baby together – does that help?
Answer: Simply being pregnant doesn’t automatically grant you the right to a partner visa. All other criteria and aspects of the relationship still have to be properly demonstrated. But yes, it most definitely can help.

Question: My sponsor cheated on me and left me. What can I do?
Answer: If you are on a permanent partner visa already then you’re fine – you’re already an Australian permanent resident and your life is to live with as you please.

If you are on the temporary partner visa or prospective marriage visa, then you may have to return to your home country or find other visa options. We suggest contacting us for a consultation to see if there are other extenuating circumstances (for example, family violence) or other pathways available to you.

Question: I had a partner who was a dependent on my temporary student/work/other visa. Now that I am a permanent resident/citizen, does that mean I only have one sponsoring opportunity left?
Answer: No, any dependents on temporary visas do not count towards your two per lifetime partner visa limit. The important thing to watch for here is your relationship timeline and any potential overlap – a skilled RMA can help you with this.

If you have any more questions about your Australian Partner Visa application, just get in touch with one of our friendly team members today.


What To Do Next

What To Do Next

You’ve reached the end of Dr Visa’s Guide to Australian Partner Visas!

You’re probably wondering what you should do next for your partner visa application. Here are some next steps that you should take:

  1. Take a look at the document checklist on the Department’s website to familiarise yourself with the visa a bit.
  2. Get your documents in order and translated.
  3. Work out your costs – partner visas are expensive!
  4. Remember that anything you send to the Department can and will be used in their decision making, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot with incomplete or incorrect information.

If you’d like one of our Registered Migration Agents at CP International to help with your partner visa, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make sure that you absolutely want to use a migration agent – it’s not for everyone, but remember that it’s always easier (and less expensive) to start a new application than to fix one that’s already been incorrectly lodged.
  2. Book a consultation with us. We’ll let you know what documents to gather and bring to your consultation.
  3. Note that it is perfectly fine if one partner is in Australia and the other is overseas – we conduct consultations with one partner with the RMA and the other on video all the time.

If there’s anything you’d like to see added to the guide – contact us here and let us know!

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This guide contains only general information about partner visas and should not be treated as advice regarding your immigration matter, and does not create an agent-client relationship between CP International and yourself.