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Partner Visa Changes Commencing November 2021

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The Australian Government announced as part of the 2020-21 Federal Budget that it will be implementing reforms in relation to the way partner visa applications are applied for. It has been some time since the announcements however the Australian Government has now confirmed these changes will be implemented in November 2021.

These new reforms will consist of the following:

  • Introducing an English language requirement for permanent resident sponsors and Partner visa applicants; and
  • Applying a new sponsorship framework that will require Australian sponsors to become ‘approved sponsors’ before an applicant can proceed to lodge a partner visa.

Sponsorship approval

At present, a partner visa application can be lodged at any time, without needing to first get the sponsor to become approved.

As part of the Partner visa reforms, the Department of Home Affairs will introduce a new sponsorship framework requiring sponsors to be approved before their partners can apply for a Partner visa. 

If this additional step to the sponsorship component is to be extended this will negatively impact onshore Partner visa applicants wanting to lodge a visa application prior to their substantive visa expiring.

English language requirements

The Australian Partner visa program does not presently require applicants or sponsors to meet any English language requirements.

The upcoming Partner visa reforms will require visa applicants and their permanent resident sponsors to provide evidence of a functional level of English or to demonstrate that they have made reasonable efforts to learn English at the time of the permanent Partner visa stage.

Which visas will these requirements apply to?

What is considered ‘Functional English

You can demonstrate you have functional English if you:

  • Completed a degree, higher degree, a diploma or a trade certificate in an institution in or outside of Australia that required at least two years of full-time study and all instruction was in English;
  • You completed all years of primary and at least 3 years of secondary school in or outside of Australia and all instruction was in English;
  • You completed 5 years of secondary school in or outside of Australia and all instruction was in English;
  • You completed 1 year of full-time study towards an award in Australia and all instruction was in English;
  • You completed the part-time equivalent of 1 year of full-time study towards an award in Australia and all instruction was in English;
  • You achieved an average band score of 4.5 in IELTS;
  • You achieved a total band score of at least 32 in TOEFL iBT;
  • You achieved a total band score of at least 30 in PTE; or
  • You achieved a total band score of at least 147 in CAE.

What is considered as ‘Reasonable Efforts’?

Reasonable efforts will include the completion of 500 hours of free English language classes through the Adult Migration English Program (AMEP).

Who will be exempt from the English language requirements?

These requirements will apply to passport holders from countries other than:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • United States
  • United Kingdom

How Ethos Migration Lawyers can help

If you are planning on applying for a partner visa in the near future, we highly recommend that you consider applying for the partner visa application prior to the implementation of these new requirements.

Once these new requirements come into effect, applicants will need to have enough time on their current substantive visas to allow their associated sponsor to become approved before they can proceed to lodge their partner visa application.

We highly recommend contacting our office for assistance if you or your permanent resident sponsor may have difficulties in meeting the English language requirement, so an application can be made before these changes come into effect.

If you would like further information on the Australian Partner visa reform, assistance applying for a Partner visa or for further assistance with any other migration matters, please contact our office.

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