The Australian Governor-General yesterday proclaimed that the Partner Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) will commence on 17 April 2019. The changes may result in a more onerous and lengthier process to obtain a Partner Visa, and will particularly impact those lodging their application from within Australia.
The legislative amendment will allow the Department of Home Affairs to:
- Require the Australian citizen/permanent resident or New Zealand eligible citizen in the relationship to be approved as a sponsor through a separate Sponsorship application before a Partner Visa application can be made;
- Impose statutory obligations on approved Partner Visa sponsors;
- Provide civil penalties and administrative sanctions for the breach of sponsorship obligations;
- Require sponsors to consent to having details of their character history disclosed to the Partner Visa applicant in cases where the sponsor has a history of violence;
- And have the ability to refuse or cancel a Partner Sponsorship if the sponsor has a history of violence.
What the changes mean for Partner Visa applicants
As per our previous article announcing the changes, sponsors will be required to undertake mandatory police and character checks as part of their Sponsorship application. Now the separate Sponsorship application can be refused if the sponsor has a history of violence. In addition, waiting for the Sponsorship application to be approved by the Department before being able to apply for a Partner Visa may result in longer time-frames to migrate a partner. It is currently unclear how long processing times will take for Sponsorship applications. The new procedure will impact Partner Visa applicants in different ways, depending on whether the visa applicant intends to apply from overseas (‘offshore’) or from within Australia (‘onshore’).
Onshore Partner Visa Applications
The changes present challenges for thousands of people who currently enter Australia on short-term visas before submitting a Partner Visa application. The requirement for the sponsor to be approved first may make it more difficult for an applicant to submit a Partner Visa application onshore before their temporary visa expires and could result in the applicant needing to return to their home country to apply from overseas. The current processing time for onshore Partner Visa applications is 21 to 28 months.
Offshore Partner Visa Applications
Longer time-frames may result in a longer wait to be reunited with your partner in Australia if applying from overseas.The current processing time for offshore Partner Visa applications is 14 to 20 months.
Why the changes were initiated
According to the legislation, the purposes of the Amendment are to:
- strengthen the integrity of the program;
- place greater emphasis on the assessment of persons as family sponsors;
- improve the management of family violence in the delivery of the program;
- and facilitate a framework to approve sponsors before a visa application can be made, impose sponsorship obligations (with applicable sanctions) and allow the sharing of a sponsor’s personal information if a history of violence is present.
Over 30 years of visa experience | How Interstaff can assist you
People intending to apply for a Partner Visa from within Australia after 17 April 2019 will need to be aware of how these changes may impact their ability to make an application. Sponsors will also need to be cognisant that a history of violence could result in the refusal of their Sponsorship application and an inability to proceed with a Partner Visa application. Those who apply for a Partner Visa prior to 17 April 2019 will not be impacted by the changes. If you intend on applying for a Partner Visa, we recommend that you contact our Registered Migration Agents to discuss how the changes impact you and how we can assist with the new sponsorship and visa application process. Simply contact our Registered Migration Agents on [email protected] or 08 9221 3388.