There will be major changes to the Partner Visa process as the Government has passed legislation governing the way in which couples can apply for a Partner Visa. Find out what has changed and why, as well as how the changes impact you and your partner.
Partner sponsors to be approved before a Partner Visa application can be made
Last month The Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 was passed by the Senate to change the Partner Visa process. As part of the Bill, several amendments were proposed to allow the Department of Home Affairs to:
- Require partner sponsors to be assessed and approved before a Partner Visa application can be made
- Impose statutory obligations on approved Partner Visa sponsors
- Provide civil penalties and administrative sanctions if sponsorship obligations are breached
- Facilitate the sharing of personal information by requiring the sponsor to provide consent for any history of violence to be shared with the Partner Visa applicant
- Have the ability to refuse or cancel a Partner Sponsorship in cases where the sponsor has a history of violence
While the Bill has been passed, the regulations providing the details of how the changes will operate are yet to be finalised. Read our previous article on the proposed changes to understand more about The Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016.
What the changes mean for Partner Visa sponsors and applicants
The changes will effectively introduce a two-step process to apply for a Partner Visa, involving a Sponsorship application followed by a Partner Visa application. Under the new Partner Visa process, a Partner Visa application can only be made if the sponsorship application is first approved.
Currently character checks are a mandatory requirement for all visa applicants, while sponsors are usually only required to provide police checks if a minor is included in the application. The introduction of a sponsorship application will require all partner sponsors to undertake police and character checks before becoming approved. As part of the new Partner Visa process, the visa applicant will also be made aware if the sponsor has a history of violence.
Delays to Partner Visas expected as laws toughen for sponsors
The changes are likely to cause delays in the process to lodge a Partner Visa application as the Department will first need to undertake an assessment of the sponsorship. It is unclear how long this will take. Delays could have different impacts on Partner Visa applicants based on whether they are applying from overseas or from within Australia. Read on to find out how the changes impact Partner Visa applicants lodging their application from within Australia or from overseas.
How the changes impact Partner Visa applications lodged from within Australia
Any substantial delays arising from the sponsorship application could make it more difficult for a visa applicant to submit their partner visa application onshore before their temporary visa expires. People intending to apply for a Partner Visa from within Australia need to be aware of this risk and the possibility that delays in the new Partner Visa process could result in the need to return to their home country and apply for the visa from overseas.
How the changes impact Partner Visa applications lodged from overseas
Those lodging a Partner Visa application from overseas could face a longer waiting period before being reunited with their partner in Australia due to delays in assessing the sponsor’s application. The current time for offshore Partner Visa applications is 12 to 17 months.
Why do partner sponsors need to apply to become an approved sponsor?
The changes are designed to protect Partner Visa applicants. In 2016, the ABC reported up to half of the emergency accommodation being provided to victims of domestic violence were women on visas. The Partner Visa process changes are a positive step towards protecting visa applicants from abuse, though they will also present challenges for thousands of people who currently enter Australia on short-term visas before submitting Partner Visa applications.
How Interstaff can assist with your Partner Sponsorship and Partner Visa applications
Our Registered Migration Agents can assess whether your partner and sponsor meet the eligibility requirements for partner sponsorship and Partner Visa applications and provide helpful advice at each step of the process. We provide a free visa assessment to help you understand your Partner Visa options – simply contact our Registered Migration Agents on 08 9221 3388 or firstname.lastname@example.org