Partner Visa Update – Information, Processing Times, Statistics and Sponsorship Requirements
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has provided registered migration agents with a statistical overview of the current status of the Partner Visa programme which includes the amount of applications being lodged, and location of applicants.
Number of applications, location of applicants, and method of applications
In the 2016/2017 Migration Programme year 50,000 Partner Visa applications were received by the Department, with 28,500 being lodged offshore and 21,500 applications being lodged onshore in Australia.
The rate of partner visa applications onshore is currently averaging at about 24,000 visa applications per year with offshore application lodgement rate dropping between 10-30% due to temporary visa holders lodging onshore partner visa applications.
We have been advised that 80% of Partner Visa applications are now being lodged online as opposed to the traditional ‘paper-based’ applications that have been received in previous years.
The Department has advised that current processing times for subclass 820, subclass 801 and subclass 100 applications are typically ranging between 16-23 months which has been attributed to the Department’s resourcing constraints, increasing application rates, increasing onshore applications being lodged, and an on going crack down on fraudulent partner visa applications.
Onshore partner visas (subclass 820) applications that have been lodged more than three months ago and are assessed as being ‘decision-ready’ are being assessed for potential decision by 20 June 2017.
Subclass 801 Permanent Visa applications that have become eligible for grant up to April 2016 are currently being assessed by the Department in line with the published processing times. The claims of the subclass 801/subclass 100 relationship will be assessed at the time the application is actioned by the Department and if required, the Department will request further evidence and documents at time of action to ensure health and character clearances remain valid.
Sponsorship Assessments from November 2016
As of November 2016 the Australian government introduced a requirement for all Australian sponsors of Partner visa applications to complete a character clearance. These new requirements require sponsors to provide the Department with an Australian Federal Police clearance and overseas police clearances for every country they have spent more than 12 months in, in the past 10 years.
Pursuant to Regulation 1.20KC of the Migration Regulations 1994 sponsors will be required to be approved as sponsors prior to the commencement of an assessment for a partner visa application lodged by an applicant.
Currently, there is no impediment to the visa applicant lodging an application for a Partner visa at the same time as the sponsorship application is lodged. It is therefore critically important that sponsors ensure they meet the new requirements prior to lodging a Partner visa application.
As of the date of this article, there are currently 8,000 sponsorship applications on hand with 6,000 applications yet to be actioned. The Department has advised that the average processing time for sponsorship assessments is approximately six months.