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Partner Visas

Who is eligible for a Partner visa?

To be eligible for a Partner visa on the basis of your marriage, you must:

  • Be sponsored by an eligible person.
  • Be legally married to your spouse.
  • Show that you and your partner have a mutual commitment to a shared life as husband and wife to the exclusion of all others.
  • Show that you have a genuine and continuing relationship with your partner.
  • Show that you and your partner are living together or, if not, that any separation is only temporary
  • Meet health and character requirements

To apply for a Partner visa as a de facto partner, you must:

  • Be sponsored by an eligible person.
  • Not be related by family.
  • Together with your de facto partner, be aged at least 18 years at the time your application is made.
  • Show that you and your partner have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others.
  • Demonstrate that you and your partner have been in a de facto relationship for at least 12 months immediately prior to the application unless there are compelling and compassionate circumstances or the relationship is registered under State or Territory laws.
  •  Show that you and your partner are living together or, if not, that any separation is only temporary.
  • Meet health and character requirements.

How does the Department of Immigration and Border Protection assess that your relationship is genuine and you and your partner have a mutual commitment to a shared life together regardless of whether it is one of spousal relationships or de facto relationship?

The Migration Regulations 1994 provide answers to this question by setting out 4 distinct factors to be considered by the Department when assessing the genuiness of the relationship. The Department looks at a range of documentary evidence to support your relationship.

  • Financial aspects to assess the degree of financial dependence or inter-dependence in the relationship. You are expected to provide  documentary evidence demonstrating some degree of inter-dependence such as joint bank accounts, utility accounts and joint leases of property.
  • Nature of household to determine the cohabitation patterns of your relationship. The Department considers living and sleeping arrangements, sharing of house work, care and responsibility for children within the household. Forms of acceptable documentary evidence include statements or statutory declarations of both you and your partner setting out the nature of household.
  • Social aspects to see the social interaction of you with your partner such as joint social outings and activities and joint travels. You are required to provide evidence of photographs, air tickets, boarding passes, hotel bills and two statutory declarations from friends or relatives.
  • Commitment to each other to assess the level of commitment in the relationship including the duration of the relationship, the length of time you have lived together and the degree of companionship and support.

Who can be an eligible sponsor for a Partner visa?

To sponsor you for a Partner visa, your spouse or de facto partner must:

  • Be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen (Australian permanent residents or eligible New Zealand citizens must satisfy the ‘usually resident’ requirement).
  • Be at least 18 years old or more.
  • Be in a married or de facto partner relationship with you.
  • Not be the holder of a Woman at Risk visa that has been granted in the past 5 years.
  • Not have sponsored another fiancé or partner within the last 5 years.
  • Not have been sponsored as a fiancé or partner by anyone else in the last 5 years.
  • Not have previously sponsored 2 or more persons as a fiancé or partner.
  • Not have been granted a permanent contributory parent visa within the last 5 years.

Are there any special concessions for Partner visas?

There are a number of concessions within the framework of this particular category as the government has applied a sympathetic approach to the plight of visa applicants with a view to avoiding involuntary separation and hardship between couples in genuine relationships.

One particular example is for unlawful non-citizens or non citizens without any substantive visas applying for partner visas. Partner visas may be granted to certain persons living unlawfully in Australia but in relationships with Australian residents if compelling reasons exist. They can have an application processed in Australia without the non-Australian having to leave.

The department considers the following circumstances to be compelling among other things:

  • There are Australian citizen children from the relationship
  • The applicant and their sponsor are already in a long-standing partner relationship.

Another advantage against other visas is that non-citizens who were refused a visa or whose visas were cancelled may apply for partner visas onshore without having to leave Australia to submit offshore applications.

In addition, applicants with some adverse health conditions are entitled to present their cases for consideration of health waiver even if the health requirement is not met. In other words, the health waiver is available although the applicants may have adverse health issues such as HIV or diabetes (please refer to the Medical/Health Waivers section for more information).

What happens after the application for a Partner visa is made?

Under the current caseload of Partner visa applications experienced by the Department, it may take more than 12 months until a temporary visa may be granted by the Department

Partner visas implement a 2 stage process for applications such that applicants are firstly granted temporary visas which are valid for 2 years before being considered for permanent visas at the expiration of 2 years following  lodgement. There are some exceptions where family violence provisions may allow the applicants to proceed to permanent residence within the 2 year period if there is satisfactory evidence of family violence.

Although it involves a 2 stage process, it does not mean that the applicants should make separate applications for permanent visas after 2 years. This is because the applicants are deemed to apply for both visas concurrently using the same form and paying one visa application charge.

Usually except for some unique circumstances where permanent visas may be granted upfront, the applicants will be contacted by the Department to provide more information to assess whether the relationship is still genuine two years after the lodgement of applications.

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