To help ensure the safety of those on a Partner Visa, the Government proposed migration amendments which would require Partner Visa sponsors to meet police and character checks. The changes were expected to commence in 2017, however the amendments still lie before the Senate and are now likely to be introduced this year.
If the bill is passed, greater scrutiny will be placed on assessing the character requirements of those wishing to sponsor their partner to stay in Australia. The changes will effectively create a two-step process that could delay the lodgements of overseas partner visa applications and could have particular impacts for those applying for partner visas while in Australia.
Those applying for a partner visa from within Australia often arrive on a temporary visa before lodging their partner visa onshore. However, if there are substantial delays by the Department when assessing partner visa sponsors, it may make it more difficult for an applicant to submit their partner visa application onshore before their temporary visa expires.
Sponsors of partner visas will also need to provide consent to the Department of Home Affairs to inform their partner their convictions of any ‘relevant offences’, so that their partner can make an informed decision about continuing with their application.
The Department will consider a ‘relevant offence’ to be an offence against a law, either in Australia or overseas, involving:
- violence, including murder, assault, sexual assault and the threat of violence
- harassment, molestation, intimidation or stalking
- the breach of an apprehended violence order, or a similar order
- firearms or other dangerous weapons
- people smuggling
- human trafficking, slavery or slavery-like practices (including forced marriage), kidnapping or unlawful confinement
- attempting to commit any of these offences
- aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring such offences.
If the changes are approved, the Department advised that partner visa applications may be refused if the partner visa sponsor has a relevant offence and a significant criminal record, involving a single or cumulative sentence of imprisonment of 12 months or more. The measures aim to protect and inform partner visa holders, who can be vulnerable to cases of domestic violence or abuse once they arrive in Australia.
Interstaff regularly assists couples with the Partner Visa process, providing valuable advice on legislative changes and requirements. If you are interested in sponsoring your partner to come to Australia, get a free visa assessment here or contact our migration agents on (08) 9221 3388 or [email protected]
Source: The Department of Home Affairs