Applying for an Australian Partner visa is an arduous, expensive, and often stressful process for many couples.
With many years of advising on and having submitted hundreds of Partner visa applications, below we outline some of our tips, responses to the most frequently asked questions that we receive during this process, and things you should know before applying for your Partner visa.
You can also find a list of FAQs regarding Partner visas, types of documents to be submitted, our process, and other articles we’ve written on Partner visas on our services page here.
1. What documents should we provide / I include in the Partner visa application?
You’ve probably heard of the types of documents that you should provide for your Partner visa, but do you know why you’re providing them or how they actually “evidence” your relationship?
In considering why you’re providing these documents, it’s worth noting the legislative criteria that you must meet to be granted the visa (i.e. the legal basis for why your visa will be granted). In consider a Partner visa, the Minister must consider all circumstances of the relationship, including:
The financial aspects of the relationship
Joint ownership of real estate or other major assets
Any joint liabilities
Extent of any pooling of financial resources, especially in relation to major financial commitments
Whether one person owes any legal obligation in respect of the other
The basis of any sharing of day-to-day household expenses
The nature of the household
Any joint responsibility for the care and support of children
The living arrangements of the persons
Any sharing of the responsibility for housework
The social aspects of the relationship
Whether the persons represent themselves to other people as being in a de facto relationship with each other
The opinion of the persons’ friends and acquaintances about the nature of the relationship
Any basis on which the persons plan and undertake joint social activities
Nature of the commitment
The duration of the relationship
The length of time during which the persons have lived together
The degree of companionship and emotional support that the persons draw from each other
Whether the persons see the relationship as a long-term one
“Primary” documents should be preferred – these include documents that clearly state its purpose (i.e. a joint bank statement which lists both the applicant and Australian sponsor’s names and the address you’re residing at, and show a joint pooling of financial resources).
“Secondary” documents usually have less weight – these are documents that are harder to officially verify (i.e. photos, statements from friends that are not Form 888s or statutory declarations, postcards, birthday cards etc.).
It’s important you ensure that the documents you’re providing have a purpose as it’s easy to provide and potentially overwhelm an assessing case officer with plenty of unnecessary documents. Keep your documents relevant and succinct.
2. Will getting married speed up the processing of my Partner visa application / should we register our relationship?
In order to be granted a Partner visa, the applicant must be either the “spouse” or “de facto partner” of a person who is an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen.
The processing times for a Partner visa is not quicker if you’re in a spousal relationship or a de facto relationship. Both relationships must meet the legislative criteria (as outlined above).
One minor difference however, is that where an applicant is applying for a Partner visa on the basis of being in a “de facto relationship”, the Minister must be satisfied that the applicant has been in a de facto relationship for at least the period of 12 months before the date of the application (unless compelling/compassionate circumstances can be established).
This 12 month requirement does not apply if the de facto relationship is a “registered relationship”. Currently this is available in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.
While getting married or registering your relationship will remove the need to satisfy the 12 month temporal requirement, all other aspects of the relationship are still assessed according to the legislative criteria (as outlined above).
Getting married and registering your relationship may also have legal consequences, accordingly you should seek legal advice before simply deciding to do so.
3. Should we open a joint bank account for our Partner visa application?
As outlined above, the financial aspects of the relationship are one of the key criteria that’s assessed for a Partner visa application. This includes the “extent of any pooling of financial resources”.
While having a joint bank account is one ways of evidencing that you share finances (and arguably the cleanest way of doing so), it is not necessary to open one simply for the purposes of a Partner visa application. In fact, doing so in some circumstances can appear to be contrived (i.e. if it’s opened shortly before the application is lodged and hardly used).
If you legitimately have discussed opening a joint bank account to cover for shared expenses or have joint savings and will use the account as such then there is some benefit to doing so. Otherwise, in lieu of that, it is still possible to explain how you share finances in your statements and provide some documentary evidence of this (for example showing transfers between your personal accounts).
4. What happens to the Partner visa if we break up or our relationship ends?
This question is answered in depth in a prior blog post here. In short, it depends on when your relationship ends / you break up.
5. How long does the Partner visa take? Can I work during processing of my Partner visa application?
The processing times for the Partner visas vary, and you can always see the latest published processing times on the Department’s website here.
As at time of writing, we are finding that Partner visas now approved were lodged approximately 12-18 months ago. However, the Department have indicated that the expected processing time for new matters is significantly more than that:
75% of visas are processed in: 26 months
90% of visas are processed in: 31 months
75% of visas are processed in: 14 months
90% of visas are processed in: 20 months
Applicants for onshore Partner visas (Subclass 820/801) will automatically receive a Bridging Visa A (BVA) with no conditions attached. This means that there are unrestricted work and study rights.
Please note however, that a person’s BVA would “sit behind” any current substantive visa that you hold and only come into effect after the expiry of your current substantive visa (if you are in Australia at that time). Until the BVA comes into effect, you will remain subject to any conditions of your substantive visa.
As at time of writing, the lodgement fees for a Partner visa is $7,715 with the published processing times for the temporary Subclass 820 component of the visa standing at 75% of visas being processed in 26 months, and 90% being processed in 31 months.
For many people, applying for this visa represents a significant investment during which applicants inevitably have numerous queries and concerns. It is often worth seeing an immigration lawyer to allay some of these concerns early, or to receive assistance with the process.
Hannan Tew Lawyers have significant experience with advising on, preparing and lodging Partner Visa. Our professional fees for assistance with Partner visas start from AUD 4,000 + 10% GST. We also offer consultations for AUD 350 + 10% GST to discuss your circumstances, provide advice and options.
Please feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or phone +61 3 9016 0484 if you have further comments or queries or would like some guidance.