Australia’s partner visa allows the partner or spouse of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen to live in Australia. The partner visa is a 2-stage process, and you apply for the temporary and the permanent partn visas together. Depending on whether you are onshore or offshore, you will apply the Subclass 820/801 and Subclass 309/100 visas respectively. Please visit our webpage here for overview of the visa requirements.
THE 2-YEAR WAIT AND LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP
As mentioned, you will apply for both visas together (the combined Subclass 309/100 or Subclass 820/801). You will first be granted the temporary visa (Subclass 309 or 820), and there will be a 2-year wait before the Department will assess your eligibility for the permanent visa (Subclass 100 or 801). When you are being assessed, you will be required to provide additional evidence of your relationship for the past 2 years. However, at the time of your visa application, if you and your sponsor have already been in a long-term relationship, then you might be granted the permanent visa together. To be considered in a long-term relationship, you and your sponsor must be married or in a de-facto relationship for at least 3 years if you do not have any dependent child from this relationship, and that is reduced to only 2 years if there is a dependent child.
FIRST-ENTRY, SETTLEMENT, AND CITIZENSHIP
After your visa grant, you are normally required to enter Australia with your new visa within 12 months. This is the first-entry visa condition. Non-compliance of this condition risks your visa being cancelled. However, you are not required to permanently settle in Australia at this stage. You are able to enter Australia for a short visit only, then return to your home country. With your Partner visa, you are able to settle in Australia. Your permanent resident visas (Subclass 100 or 801) are valid for 5 years. You can travel to and from Australia as many times as you want within this 5 years. If you do settle in Australia permanently, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship after meeting the residence requirement. To meet the residence requirement, you must have lived in Australia for 4 years when you apply. Of this 4 years, you must hold a permanent resident visa for the last 12 months before you apply. Therefore, it is possible you have lived in Australia on a temporary visa for 3 years, and on a permanent resident visa for further 1 year. The residence requirement does not require you to live continuously in Australia, therefore, you are allowed to travel overseas. Within the 4 years, you are allowed to be overseas for up to 12 months. Within the last 12 months, you are allowed to be overseas for up to 90 days.
If you decide not to apply or have not met the requirements for citizenship, and your partner visa is expired after 5 years, you can continue to live in Australia indefinitely without having to apply for a new visa. However, if you travel after 5 years, you will not be allowed to re-enter Australia as your partner visa has expired. You must apply for a new visa so you can re-enter Australia again. As a former permanent resident, you can apply for a Subclass 155 Resident Return Visa. The visa is granted either with a 5-year validity or a 1-year validity. If you meet the 2-year residence requirement, you will be granted the 5-year validity, otherwise, you will be granted with the 1-year validity.
CONCESSIONS DURING COVID
At the time of writing, the Australia border is closed and entry to Australia remains strictly controlled and available only if you are exempt or you have been granted an individual exemption. If you have already been granted the permanent Partner visa (Subclass 100 or 801), you are exempted and can enter Australia. If you have been granted the temporary Partner visa (Subclass 309 or 820), you are also exempted as you are considered an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident. You must provide proof of your relationship.
As mentioned earlier, you must enter Australia within 12 months after visa grant to meet the first-entry visa condition. However, if you cannot travel to Australia before the first entry arrival date due to COVID, you can travel at a later date and you must continue to meet all other requirements and visa conditions.
A Subclass 309 Partner visa is an offshore visa. Granting of this visa does would normally require the visa applicant to be offshore at the time of visa grant. However, due to COVID, it is now possible for the 309 visa to be granted onshore. If you are in Australia, you will not be required to leave Australia in order to receive the Subclass 309 visa grant.
As a spouse or de facto partner of an Australia citizen or permanent resident, you are entitled to Medicare – Australia’s universal health care system, even if you are on the temporary Partner visa. Medicare will cover some or all of the costs covering your health care. For example, Medicare will cover the costs for part or all of the services provided by your GP or specialist, tests and scans (e.g. x-rays), most surgery and procedures performed by doctors, and eye tests by optometrists. However, Medicare does not cover things like ambulance services, most dental services, glasses, contact lenses and hearing aids, and cosmetic surgery.
In the 2021-22 Migration Program planning levels, Australia has allocated 77,300 places, out of a total of 160,000 places, for Family visas which is made-up predominately of Partner visas (72,300 places). This enables Australians to reunite with family members from overseas and provide them with pathways to citizenship. Many visa applicants will use a registered migration agent to assist them with the visa application. Partner visa applications are very complicated, with a lot of supporting documents required. You are required to evidence your relationship from different aspects, known as the 4-pillars:
- Financial aspects of the relationship
- Nature of the household
- Social aspects of the relationship
- Nature of the commitment
An experience registered migration agent will be able to guide you through the whole process, and prepare a visa application with the strongest chance of success that leads to a visa grant. Regulated by the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority, we abide to the professional ethics and code of conduct which, amongst other things, imposes on us the overriding duty to act at all times in the lawful interests of the client. You only have to google and you will find numerous reports of visa fraud and improper conflict of interests relating to Partner visa applications. Always do your research and select a reputable, trustworthy, and professional registered migration agent to assist with your visa application. Please contact us to find out more, and be sure to share this article.