Do you want your partner to stay with you here in Sydney, Australia and have the certainty of a Permanent Residence pathway so you can begin to plan your lives together? If so, you’re not alone. Partner Visas are one of the most commonly used Family Visa categories in Australia – and fortunately, during the pandemic, it is a category that has been prioritised by the Department of Home Affairs for visa processing as the Government focuses on facilitating family reunions.
Australia’s two main Partner Visa pathways, the Onshore 820/801 Partner Visas and the Offshore 309/100 Partner Visas, allow your loved one to migrate to Australia and become a Permanent Resident in a two-stage application process. After becoming a Permanent Resident, your partner can even apply to become an Australian Citizen if eligible. In addition to these pathways, a third option, known as the 300 Prospective Marriage Visa, provides a temporary visa with the flexibility to apply for a permanent Partner Visa pathway while holding the 300 Visa in Australia. Here’s what you should know about obtaining a Permanent Partner Visa in Australia and how a migration agent can help you manage your application requirements.
The Onshore 820/801 and Offshore 309/100 Visa pathways involve a two-stage application process whereby the two corresponding visas (temporary/provisional and permanent) are usually lodged together at the same time. This means the Onshore 820 (temporary/provisional) Partner Visa is lodged with the 801 (permanent) Partner Visa, and the Offshore 309 (temporary/provisional) Partner Visa is lodged with the 100 (permanent) Partner Visa. While two visa applications are lodged at the same time, the temporary and permanent visas are considered separate applications, and the decisions to grant these visas are usually done at different stages.
The Onshore 820/801 Partner Visa pathway allows your spouse to stay in Australia while applying for Permanent Residence from within the country. You may wish to consider this option if your partner is already in Australia. The Offshore 309/100 Partner Visa pathway allows you to reunite with your partner here in Australia if they are outside Australia. For this pathway, the applicant must apply for a visa from outside of Australia. Usually, they must also be offshore at the time of the visa grant – although concessions have been made available during the pandemic and you may wish to seek professional advice to see if any apply to you. Once onshore, a 309 visa holder can temporarily stay in Australia while waiting for the Department of Home Affair’s decision to grant the permanent 100 Partner Visa application.
During the pandemic, it is still possible to apply for an Offshore 309 Partner Visa for partners that are overseas. Once an Offshore Subclass 309 Partner Visa is granted, these visa holders can come to Australia without requesting for a Travel Exemption. The below graph shows the impact of the pandemic on Offshore 309 Partner Visa grants from the Financial Years 2018-19 (pre-pandemic times) to 2021-22.
The Government is also focused on processing Partner Visas for applicants already in Australia who apply onshore. This is to help retain migrants already in Australia while international border restrictions are in place. The below graph shows the impact of the pandemic on Onshore 820 Partner Visa grants from the Financial Years 2018-19 (pre-pandemic times) to 2021-22.
Under both the 820/801 and 309/100 Partner Visa pathways, your partner can live, work and study in Australia as well as travel in and out of the country (although you may wish to seek professional advice regarding current international travel restrictions, which are subject to change). Importantly, your partner will also have a provisional pathway to Permanent Residence.
Do you or your partner currently hold a 309 or 820 Provisional/Temporary Partner Visa? The Department of Home Affairs will usually contact you to advise when you are eligible to start the ‘Second Stage Partner Visa process.’ At this time, or soon afterwards, a Department case officer will be allocated to process your Permanent Partner Visa. You will be asked to provide up-to-date relationship evidence so they can assess whether to grant your Partner Visa for Permanent Residence.
An experienced Registered Migration Agent such as Interstaff can help you finalise your case for Permanent Residence and prepare your final evidence requirements according to the Government’s Partner Visa criteria. A migration agent can also provide advice on complex cases – for example, where the relationship has broken down or if other unfortunate circumstances have occurred that may impact your application.
The Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage Visa allows you to bring your prospective spouse to Australia to get married. As this is an Offshore Visa, the applicant must apply for the visa from outside of Australia, and once granted, this temporary visa allows them to stay in the country for 9 to 15 months. The sponsor and the visa holder must get married before the Prospective Marriage Visa expires. Once married, the visa holder can then apply for a Partner Visa pathway to permanent residence (such as a Subclass 820/801 Partner Visa depending on eligibility). With the 300 Visa, your partner can temporarily live, work and study in Australia as well as travel in and out of the country (subject to applicable international travel restrictions during the pandemic – seek professional advice if you are unsure). Importantly, they also have the flexibility to apply for Permanent Residence through a Partner Visa pathway in the future.
As you can see, to apply for a Permanent Partner Visa, such as an 801 or 100 Visa, you first need to hold a relevant Temporary Partner Visa. The Partner Visa options available to you depend on your circumstances, such as whether your partner is currently onshore or offshore, and other eligibility requirements. Apart from holding a Temporary Partner Visa, you must be in a genuine and ongoing relationship with your spouse/de-facto partner and have continued to satisfy all social, financial, household and commitment requirements in the 2 years after you applied for your Partner visa. The Department of Home Affairs assesses your application using these criteria to determine your ‘genuineness’ as a couple and to decide whether to grant the permanent Partner Visa.
The main applicant and any member of the family unit or dependent child that is added to the visa must meet the health and character requirements specified by the Government. This may involve health examinations. Family members who are not applying for the visa might also need to meet the health requirement. To prove that the applicants have good character, the Department of Home Affairs may request documents such as police certificates. Other requirements may include biometrics of all applicants. The visa applicants will also need to pay any debts to the Australian Government if funds are owed. Applicants who had a visa cancelled or refused while they were in Australia may not be eligible for a Partner visa – if this applies to your circumstances, you may wish to seek professional advice.
In Australia, Partner Visa pathways are available to marry or de-facto partners of Australian Citizens/Permanent Residents (or eligible New Zealand citizens). Your relationship can be with someone of the same or different sex.
Since 1988, Interstaff’s Registered Migration Agents have helped couples by providing comprehensive advice on how they should prepare their visa application and sponsorship application according to the Partner Visa criteria. During the pandemic, the Government is prioritising Partner Visa applications to help reunite couples and families and provide pathways that allow people already in Australia to stay.
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If you are interested in a Partner Visa to live in Australia with your partner, contact us or phone our Sydney Office on 02 7200 2567 to discuss how we can help. It would be our pleasure to assist you and your partner to start your lives together here in Sydney, Australia.
“I just wanted to say thank you and to let you know you have been very helpful and professional during this process. I would definitely recommend Interstaff to any of my friends in the future if they require immigration assistance.”
On behalf of my family and I, we would like to thank the staff at Interstaff for working around the clock to achieve our goal of Permanent Residency. They are a great team of professionals and handled our case with very high standards. We greatly appreciate it – thank you!
We applied for the Offshore Partner 309/100 Visa with the advice and representation from the team here and am happy to say, after a very long period apart from my partner due to Covid, our application recently got granted the 309 Visa with my partner looking to arrive shortly and our plan is to apply for the 100 visa mid/late next year. I highly recommend the team at Interstaff for any Partner Visa applications and I feel the fee is well worth the peace of mind you have given the high level of experience the team here offers and knowing you will be represented correctly/reliably based on the evidence you provide.
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