Limitations on sponsoring partners for a Partner or Prospective Marriage Visa

If you are an Australian Citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen who is in a relationship with a person who is not an Australian Citizen or permanent resident, you may be able to sponsor them for a Partner visa or Prospective Marriage visa which will enable them to live with you in Australia as your partner permanently.

Your Partner must be approved as a sponsor before you are able to lodge your visa application. To qualify for partner visa sponsorship, you will need to meet the legislative requirements set out by the Department of Home Affairs. This includes meeting the 5-year limitation regulation which applies to Partner visas and Prospective Marriage visas.

The limitations were put in place to prevent a person from sponsoring multiple partners however the wording of this legislation and the applicable waivers can sometimes very confusing.

Sponsorship Limitation Explained

Maximum of two sponsorship in their lifetime

A sponsor can only be approved for a maximum of two sponsorships in their lifetime.

Previously sponsored a partner

If you have previously sponsored a partner, you must wait 5 years before you can sponsor another partner. The five years applies from the date the initial visa application was lodged, however, if the visa was not granted, the limitation does not apply.

If you were granted permanent residency via a partner visa pathway

If you were granted permanent residency in Australia through a partner visa pathway, you cannot be approved to sponsor a partner for at least five years from the date your own initial partner visa application was lodged.

Registrable Offences

Character is another significant assessment that is undertaken by the Department when assessing a sponsorship application for a partner visa. If the sponsor has a conviction or outstanding charge for a registrable offence the sponsorship will generally be refused unless you can provide evidence of compelling circumstances.

What are registrable offences?

Registrable offences are considered serious offences by the Australian government and include any form of criminal history that may pose significant risk to a child.

In summary a registrable offence relates to an offence that primarily comprise of:

  • Sexual of physical assault of a child
  • Child pornography and
  • Child prostitution.

Sponsorship Limitation Waivers

In certain circumstances, migration law allows for a waiver of sponsorship limitations depending on the particular circumstances. A summary of the waivers available are as follows:

  • If the applicant and their sponsor have a dependent child is dependent on each of them;
  • The previous spouse has abonded the sponsor and there are children dependent on the sponsor requiring care and support
  • The death of the previous partner
  • Evidence of a new long-standing relationship

If your limitation is based on being convicted of a registrable offence, waivers can be considered in the following circumstances:

  • The sponsor completed the sentence imposed for the registrable offence (including any period of release under recognisance, parole or licence) and more than five years before the date of the sponsorship application was lodged has passed; and
  • The sponsor has not been charged with a registrable offence since completion of that sentence, or if the sponsor has been charged with a registrable offence since the completion of that sentence, the charge has been withdrawn, dismissed, or otherwise disposed of without the recording of a conviction, or
  • There are compelling circumstances affecting the sponsor and the visa applicant that should be taken into consideration.

Sponsorship limitations and waivers are incredibly complex areas of migration law. If you have concerns around your eligibility for sponsorship or, if you have received correspondence from the Department in relation to your partner sponsorship application and need assistance it is important you seek sound legal advice from an immigration lawyer.

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Partner Sponsorship Limitations Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, regardless of whether the sponsored partner arrived in Australia or not, it is still counted as a sponsorship.

The five-year limitation commences from the date the initial visa application was lodged.

No. If the visa was applied for, but not granted it does not apply and that sponsorship is not counted.

Compelling circumstances are not defined in migration law and have their ordinary dictionary meaning. However, legal precedents have stated that the term “compelling” has a wide, or broad meaning, that could possibly include legal, physical, or moral necessity. It can also be interpreted to mean circumstances that are so forceful that they are convincing.

No. If you have sponsored your partner on a Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa, then sponsored them again for their Partner visa, this only counts as one sponsorship.

Yes. If the partner sponsorship application is refused, the associated partner visa itself cannot be granted and as such must be refused. In these cases, the appeal must be submitted in relation to the refused partner visa.

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