A Australians desiring their overseas partner to live with them in Australia will pay a Partner Visa Application Charge of AUD $7,715.00 to the Department of Home Affairs (HA) from 1 July 2019. Partner Visa costs are now higher than most other types of visa for Australia, except for the Significant and Premium Investor Business Visas which are reserved for high net worth individuals generally with $5M to $15M to invest in Australia.

The increase in Departments Partner visa application fees acts as a deterrent to ex-pat Australians looking to return home with their overseas partner who is already facing considerable relocation costs. While the high costs of the Partner Visa application may dissuade non-genuine applicants, for genuine partners of Australian Citizens, the fee increase imposes a substantial financial hurdle.

Partner Visa: Best Practice Tips

Below is a list of useful tips to help you manage the Departments latest Partner Visa fee increase:

1. Consider alternative Australian visa options for skilled partners

The costs of applying for a Partner Visa is almost double that of a Skilled Migration Visa which as of 1 July 2019 costs $4,045.00 (Subclass 189, 190, 489) compared to the Partner Visa Application fee of $7,715.00.  So, if you have a partner aged under 45 years, with qualifications and skills available for skilled migration, consider whether your partner may be eligible for a skilled migration visa first.

Processing times for skilled migration visas are also much shorter than for the Partner Visa with applications. Skilled migration applications are typically processed in months not years.

Both the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 or State or Territory Nominated Subclass 190 Visas offer successful applicants a direct pathway to Australian permanent residence, unlike the long two-stage Partner Visa application process.

2. Long term partner relationships can be approved directly for Australian permanent residence

Partner Visa applications are generally a two-stage process.

On lodgement of the Partner Visa application (Stage 1) processing time for the temporary visa may take:

  • 15 to 20 months for the Subclass 309 Partner (Provisional) visa
  • 20 to 28 months for the Subclass 820 Partner (Temporary) visa

This is followed by additional processing time for the Permanent Partner Visa (Stage 2) of:

  • up to 14 to 21 months for the Subclass 100 Partner (Migrant) visa
  • 22 months to 26 months for the Subclass 801 Partner visa (Permanent)

The Department of Home Affairs total Partner visa processing time, from lodgement to the grant of Permanent Residence via the Partner Visa Program may see applicants wait up to 4 years based on processing times as of 1 July 2019.

Partner Visa: Long Term Relationship

Fortunately, for partners who have been in a long term relationship at the date of lodgement of their application, the process is simplified requiring only a one stage process where the Department grants partners Australian Permanent Residence after assessing the initial application.

Is my relationship Long Term?

Partners deemed to be in a long term relationship are those, who at the date of lodgement of the application, has been in a partner relationship for at least 3 years (or 2 years if there is a dependent child of the relationship).

If you have been in long term relationships you should provide supporting documents sufficient to evidence the long term nature of your relationship. This will assist the Department of Home Affairs to easily identify and characterised your relationship as long term.

Where you are close to meeting the long term relationship criteria, in some circumstances it can be worth considering withholding lodgement of your Partner Visa application until you are able to meet the long term relationship criteria to avoid the two-stage processing times.

As the Department of Home Affairs continues to manage the ever-increasing numbers of Partner Visas in the migration program, priority processing for long term partner relationships remains on the wishlist, but for now, single-stage processing afforded partners in a long term relationship is a great advantage.

3. Lodge with all of your Partner Visa supporting documents and update documents at regular intervals

Partner visa applications must demonstrate they meet the basic criteria that they are married or in a de facto relationship.

It is also necessary to demonstrate a genuine and continuing relationship to the exclusion of all others by reference to joint household, joint finances, joint social activities and joint emotional commitment to one another.

As all Partner Visa Applications are now lodged online via the Immi Account, to give your application the best chance of success, collate your supporting documents in a way that links back to the above criteria.

Also consider providing supporting documents at regular intervals, for example, every 6 months during processing.

If you decide to complete police checks and medicals at the time of lodgement, you should note that they expire every 12 months. You will need to reapply for police checks and medicals to ensure their validity at the time Department of Home Affairs come to assess your application.

4. Advise as to change of circumstances during processing

All visa applicants under the Migration Act 1958 are required to update the Department of Home Affairs as to any change in circumstances as soon as practicable.  Importantly, in the context of a Partner Visa, this includes the breakdown of the relationship during processing.

Contact us to explore your Partner Visa options and receive a professional assessment of how best to proceed with your application based on your individual circumstances and needs.