21 Oct Partner Visa Changes: what are they and what to do?
The Australian Government has recently announced changes for the Partner Visa, which worried many people. But what are those changes? What is going to happen from now on? What are the risks for couples who intend to start the process but haven’t lodged the application yet?
All these questions will be answered in this article. But first of all, let’s talk about how the Partner Visa works in Australia in order to make things easier for you to understand before start talking about the latest changes:
What is the Australian Partner Visa and how does it work?
The Partner Visa is sponsored by an Australian citizen or a Permanent Resident for a foreign person who they are in a relationship with, and who intends to live in Australia as their partner, while having full rights, such as access to the public health system and permission to work and study as many hours as they wish. And to be able to apply for his visa, the couple is required to present evidence that they are married or that they are in a de-facto relationship.
What is a de-facto relationship?
According to Australian law, a de-facto couple is one in an exclusive relationship who have been living together for at least 12 months. However, if the couple has been living together for less than one year, they may still be able to show evidence that they are in a de-facto relationship if they register their relationship with the state government in Australia whey they are living.
Please note that the rules can change according to the State or Territory. For example: Western Australia and North Territory do not register de-facto relationship.
How to prove the relationship is genuine?
This is a very important topic when it comes to the Partner Visa. Even if the couple is legally married, the Australian authorities still require details of the relationship. The documents will differ in each case and circumstance; therefore we cannot provide a list of all the documents required. In this case, it’s crucial to ask for personalised advice with one of Bravo Migration’s registered agents to assess and understand your case before taking the next steps.
Who is eligible for the partner visa?
People who are in a married or de-facto relationship with an Australian who meets the following requirements:
- A Citizen by birth, descent or migrants who acquired citizenship;
- Australian Permanent Residents;
- Some New Zealand citizens.
Since 7th of December 2017, same-sex marriage is also recognized by law in Australia under the same requirements.
Which changes have been announced for the Partner Visa?
From the new Financial Year 2020/2021 updates announcement, Family stream planning levels were increased and the number of allocations for Partner Visas were doubled: from 39,799 last financial year to 72,300.
However, there were also updates not so well received, such as the requirement of English language testing for both applicants and Australian sponsors. The level expected will be functional English (what means at least 4.5 on IELTS) or proof of reasonable efforts to learn English by completing about 500 hours of the free English language classes offered by the Australian Government for Partner visa applicants.
Also, priority processing will be given to sponsor applicants living in regional areas.
There were other Partnership Visa regulations approved by the government in 2018 that haven’t been implemented yet and are now expected to commence in November 2021.
What is going to change?
At the moment, a Partner Visa application consists of 2 parts lodged at the same time:
- 1 – Visa Application by the visa
- 2 – A Sponsorship Application by the Australian Sponsor
Once the application is approved, the partner is granted a Temporary Partner Visa – (Subclass 820), which allows them to stay in the country and have all the rights listed above, until the Permanent Partner Visa – (Subclass 801) is granted.
When the changes announced come into effect, we will first have to submit the Sponsorship Application, and wait for it to be approved, before, the visa applicant is able to apply for their visa and therefore get a bridging visa. The sponsorship application will be analysed on financial capacity and character.
We don’t know how long the government will take to approve a Sponsorship application so visa applicants for now don’t know how long it will take before they are able to lodge their partner visa applications.
While waiting for the sponsorship to be approved, the visa applicant will not receive a Bridging Visa and it becomes their responsibility to apply for another visa that allow them to stay in Australia or leave the country until the notification of approval.
What to do next?
For couples who intend to apply for the Partner Visa, our advice is to start the process as soon as possible.
What is the reason for these changes?
According to the Department of Immigration, this is a way to reduce the number of domestic violence cases, once the number of people who have applied for Partner Visas in this situation has grown considerably and has attracted the attention of authorities.
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