Policy Change on Unlawful Citizens Applying for Onshore Partner Visas


Major change in policy guidelines in respect to Onshore Partner Visa Options for Unlawful Non-Citizens after 1 July 2014 and what this means for those applicants?

Andrew Woo licensed Migration Agent (MARN 1383628) at Taylor & Scott Lawyers discusses.

For many years, the partner visa had been one of the main avenues for people who became unlawful in Australia and who want to regularize their status on the basis of their relationships with there Australian partners. There were many happy endings for unlawful citizens who all had their own unique stories to tell. “We may not see those stories with a happy ending any longer after the Australian Governments complete overhaul of the policy guidelines in respect of unlawful non-citizens,” commented Andrew Woo.

Pre- 1 July 2014;

Before this date unlawful applicants were able to rely upon the Compelling Reasons Provisions in circumstances including but not limited to the following:

  • There were Australian citizen children from the relationship or
  • The applicant and their sponsor are already in a long-standing partner relationship for at least two years

The rationale behind this policy was that it would be not only inhumane and uncompassionate but also impractical to request a separation of the immediate family in the above circumstances whilst processing the partner visa application. As such, the Australian Government maintained relaxed provisions for unlawful non-citizens and for partner visas. Over the years, Taylor and Scott Lawyers have assisted numerous clients, successfully helping them use these provisions to their advantage in similar situations. This may not be the same in future. The Australian Government seems to believe that these provisions were too generous and drove up the number of unlawful non-citizens who were able to regularize their status through the partner visa options.

The position after 1 July 2014;

It is clear that the Government had really skeptical views on the operation of the prior policy guidelines for partner visa applications. The Government concluded that there were many applicants who were deliberately manipulating their circumstances to produce “compelling reasons”, namely having Australian citizen children and establishing long-standing relationships which gave them the benefit of the waiver provisions.

The objective of the new policy is to target those applicants who:

  • Fail to comply with their visa conditions or
  • Deliberately manipulate their circumstances to give rise to compelling reasons or
  • Can leave Australia and apply for a Partner visa outside Australia
  • Have remained unlawful for a number of years but made little or no effort to regularize their status

The intent of this change in the policy guidelines is to keep a lid on people abusing the system of partner visa applications as a means of regularizing their status where there had been no compliance with the Australian migration laws previously. The changes definitely work to prevent those people who really intend to manipulate their situations only for the sake of getting visas in Australia, but there are many un-intended casualties for those who now find themselves in this position. “This class of unfortunate and genuine unlawful non-citizens should consult experienced migration agents as there may be ways to have the benefit of the waiver provisions despite the recent change in the policy guidelines. Individual circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis pursuant to policy” commented Andrew Woo.

“Of major concern is that the policy appears to be applied retrospectively to those applications lodged before 1 July 2014 by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. There has been no guidance at all from the Government as yet so it will be very important to watch what happens to those applications in the short term” commented Andrew.

ANDREW WOO (Registered Migration Agent No. 1383628)

For more information, Contact Lachlan Riches (Registered Migration Agent No. 9473887) or Andrew Woo (Registered Migration Agent No. 1383628) on 1800 600 664 or complete the Contact Form on this page.

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