Top 10 Tips - Partner Visa Applications Part 1

webster By Mark Webster
Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Partner migration is one of the main family sponsored application pathways. The concept is relatively simple - if you are in a relationship with an Australian permanent resident or citizen, they can sponsor you and you can then qualify for permanent residence.

However, partner visa requirements are far from simple in practice. This article goes through some of the finer points and highlights some tips for people planning on applying for a partner visa.

1. Lodging a Partner Visa Before Getting Married

To qualify for a partner visa, you would need to show that you are in a spouse relationship. Often, this will mean that you are married, but this is not always the case.

The most common exception to this is where you are living together in a defacto relationship (see below for more information.

On top of this, there are a number of ways you can apply even if you are not yet married.

One way is to apply for a Prospective Spouse subclass 300 visa. This is for people who have registered with a marriage celebrant to get married in Australia. It results in a 9-month visa which has full work and travel rights. During the validity of the visa, you are expected to get married and apply for a partner visa.

If you are applying for a partner visa offshore, you do not necessarily need to be married at the date of application. Providing the marriage takes place during processing, your can still meet the requirements. It is also possible to convert a Prospective Spouse visa application to an offshore partner visa application during processing if you get married whilst awaiting a decision.

Note that for onshore partner applications, the above exemptions do not apply - if you do not prove you are in a partner relationship at the date you apply, your application will almost certainly be refused.

2. Establishing a Defacto Relationship

One of the ways of applying for a partner visa is to show that you are in a "defacto relationship". This would normally mean showing that you have lived together in an exclusive relationship for the last 12 months. However, living together is only one of the factors considered by the Department of Immigration:
  • Cohabitation: This would require you to show that you are living together, or at least not apart on a permanent basis. You would generally provide correspondence addressed to either or both of you at the same address, evidence of a joint lease or property ownership.
  • Joint Financials: You would need to show some level of pooling of your financial resources. This would normally take the form of a joint bank account, joint ownership of assets or making each other a beneficiary of superannuation or wills
  • Social Interdependence: You would need to be recognised as a couple socially and this could be evidenced by photos of you and your partner with friends and relatives for instance
Note that the above factors also apply even if you are married - it's just that in this case, you would not need to show that you have lived together for 12 months.

3. Exceptions to the 12 Month Rule for Defacto Relationships

You would normally need to show that you have lived together for 12 months to show that you are in a defacto relationship for the purposes of a partner visa application. However, there are a number of exceptions.

The first exception is if you register your relationship with an Australian state or territory government. Requirements vary by location and some require one or both of you to be resident in the state or territory.

Other exceptions are where you have a child of the relationship, or it is unlawful in your country to live together in a defacto relationship.

4. Avoiding the 2-year Waiting Period for Permanent Residence

Partner visas lead to permanent residence in two stages for most applicants. When applying for a partner visa, you technically lodge a combined application for a temporary partner and a permanent partner visa.

In most cases, the temporary partner visa is granted first. This gives you full work and travel rights in Australia.

Most people only become eligible for the permanent partner visa once 2 years has elapsed from the date the application was lodged. At this stage, you would need to provide evidence that you are still in a relationship with your partner, and provide updated police checks.

In some cases, you can be granted the permanent partner visa directly, without needing to go via the temporary partner stage. The main ones are:

  • You have been in a relationship for at least the last 3 years; and
  • You have been in a relationship for the last 2 years, and have a child of the relationship
Unless you specifically ask for the permanent visa to be granted, the Department of Immigration will often grant a temporary visa instead of a permanent one - it is important that your eligibility for the permanent visa be clearly demonstrated for the best result.

5. Children of Previous Relationships

If you have children from previous relationships this can complicate the application process.

If the child is under 18, they would generally be considered a dependent. This would give you the option of including them in your application for a partner visa. In this case, you would need to obtain the consent of the other parent in the way prescribed by the Department of Immigration.

Even if you do not intend to include a child under 18 in your partner application, they may still need to do health and police checks. This can be difficult to arrange if you do not have custody of the child.


Join us next week for the remaining 5 top tips for partner visas.

Whilst partner visas may seem to be simple conceptually, there are many fine details associated with the application process. Knowing these finer points can greatly smooth the application process and may also mean the difference between success and failure.

If you would like assistance with your partner visa application, please book a consultation with one of our advisors and they can come up with a plan to guide you through the process.

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