Applying for a partner visa (sometimes referred to as a Spouse Visa) is a common pathway for people migrating to Australia. A Partner visa is a type of visa usually available for people who are in a de-facto relationship or married to an Australian citizen, Australian Permanent Resident, or eligible New Zealand Citizen.

The partner visa application process

Applying for a partner visa can be a difficult, confusing and long-winded process. Many people will engage professional representation from migration agents and immigration lawyers to help with their application.

The Partner visa programme is a two-stage application. Once you are granted your initial Partner visa, you will be eligible to apply for your permanent Partner visa two years from the date of your initial Partner visa application.

In Australia, a temporary partner visa allows you to:

• Travel to and from the country
• Work in Australia
• Access local healthcare

Normally, you can apply for a permanent partner visa two years after applying for a temporary visa. Your temporary partner visa will be valid until your permanent visa application has been processed. In some cases, however, this two-year gap can be renounced. The two-year wait for your permanent visa to be approved may be waived if you have been in a relationship for:

• Three years or more
• Two years or more, and have dependent children

Typically, the Department of Home Affairs will take anywhere between 8 to 24 months to process your visa application. Offshore Partner Visa applications are generally processed quicker.

Partner visas can be applied for from overseas (subclasses 309 and 100) or from inside Australia (subclasses 820 and 801 visa). Applying for an onshore Partner visa (820 and 801) visa will enable you to be granted a bridging visa to remain in Australia after your substantive visa expires and until a decision is made on your Partner visa.

General eligibility requirements for a partner visa

To be granted a partner visa in Australia, you must prove your relationship with an Australian partner is monogamous and committed. There are some key points the Department of Home Affairs will look at to determine if your relationship is genuine. To be eligible, you and your partner must:

• Be committed to a life together to the exclusion of all others
• Provide evidence of social activities together
• Share household responsibilities together
• Share various financial responsibilities

Your Partner must be approved as a family sponsor before you are able to lodge your application. They must provide evidence of their Australian residency status and federal police clearances for every country they have spent more than 12 months in over the last 10 years.

Furthermore you must:

• Be married (in or outside Australia) before you lodge your visa application
• Be in a de-facto relationship for at least 12 months (waivers to the 12 month requirement are available if you register your de facto relationship in an Australian state or territory)

Your partner visa application may be refused if you have:

• A criminal history or been sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment (wholly or suspended)
• Serious health issues
• Not complied with any previous visa conditions (in Australia or overseas)

If you can provide evidence of the above points, you may be eligible to apply for a partner visa. For help with your application and compiling evidence, immigration lawyers and migration agents from Ethos Migration can provide expert strategies and advice.