PARTNER VISA CHANGES - WHAT ARE THEY AND DO WE KNOW WHEN THEY WILL BE INTRODUCED?
One of the visas we deal with regularly is the Partner Visa. A Partner visa can sometimes be applied for while the visa applicant is in Australia (onshore – subclass 820/801 visa) or it can be applied for when the applicant is outside Australia (offshore – subclass 309/100 visa).
How does the application work now?
At the moment, the visa application and the partner’s sponsorship application are lodged at the same time. Quite some time ago, the Australian Government announced that it wanted to change that.
What are the changes that are proposed?
The Australian Government proposed several changes to the process, but the most important one was that it should be changed so that the sponsorship application has to be lodged first and then, only when that is approved, can the visa application be lodged.
As well as detailed information about the sponsor, his/ her family, his/ her residential addresses and international travel history, the sponsorship application also requires police clearances from everywhere the sponsor has lived for 12 months or more in the preceding 10 years since they were 16. These clearances are harder to get for some countries than others.
We were assured that in “straightforward” cases, the sponsorship application would be approved in days, however more complex cases would take longer.
How will this affect Partner visa applications?
Once these changes are finally introduced, any delays in processing the sponsorship application could have significant implications for those planning to submit their Partner visa application onshore.
Delays in obtaining police clearances which result in lengthy processing times for the sponsorship application could mean that a visa applicant isn’t able to submit his/her partner visa application before his/her current Australian visa expires.
The visa applicant would either have to incur the expense of another Australian visa application, or the cost of overseas travel to submit an offshore application and the associated heartbreak of potentially having to be away from their sponsor during the lengthy visa processing period.
Have the changes been introduced?
The changes haven’t been introduced yet, but those of us who deal with these applications regularly wait with baited breath every time the Department of Home Affairs announces a planned upgrade to IMMI Account!
Recent experience has shown that wide ranging changes to visa programmes can be introduced with little or no warning. If you are planning to apply for a Partner visa, we recommend keeping an eye on these proposed changes and speaking to a Registered Migration Agent to understand whether or not these changes will affect your plans. If at all possible, make sure you start the process well before your current Australian visa expires!