Who Can Apply for a Partner Visa (Subclass 309 and 100) for Australia?
Australia is a country very much reliant on immigrants for its growth and economic prosperity. Indeed, it is estimated that of the 25 million people living in Australia, nearly 30% (7.5 million people) were born overseas. Most immigrants to Australia originate from England, China, India, New Zealand, Philippines, Vietnam, South Africa, Italy, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. If you are considering making the move to Australia yourself, it is important to assess which visa option will best suit your needs. For those with married or unmarried partners living in Australia, the most popular option is the Australian partner visa (subclasses 309 and 100). In this article, we will explain who can apply for a partner visa for Australia, the conditions attached to this visa, and the application process.
Why Are There Two Visa Subcategories For Australia Partner Visas?
The application process for the Australia partner visa route has two stages. Applicants first need to apply for a temporary/provisional visa (subclass 309); this must be done outside of Australia. If granted, this allows the individual the right to live in Australia while an application for a permanent visa is processed (subclass 100). In other words, applicants cannot acquire a permanent resident visa under the partner scheme unless they first have a provisional visa. Thankfully, the Australian Department of Home Affairs doesn’t make applicants pay for both visas separately; once the application fee of AUD$7,715 is paid for subclass 309, there is no further application charge for subclass 100.
Who Is Eligible To Apply For A Partner Visa For Australia?
To apply for a partner visa for Australia, you must be in a genuine relationship with your spouse or de facto partner who is an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or New Zealand, citizen. The Australian partner visa immigration rules do not discriminate between those with a partner of the same or different sex. The rules also state that applicants may still be eligible for a partner visa even if their relationship breaks down or their sponsor dies while the application is being processed by the Australian Department of Internal Affairs.
The eligibility rules for the 309 partner visa state that to be considered a ‘married applicant’:
- you and your spouse must both be committed to a shared life together to the exclusion of all others
- your relationship with your spouse must be genuine and continuing
- you must live with your spouse or do not live apart on a permanent basis
- your marriage must be valid under Australian law
De facto partnerships
To be considered in a de facto relationship, the following must apply:
- you are not married to each other
- you are committed to a shared life to the exclusion of all others
- your relationship is genuine and continuing
- you live together or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis
- you are not related by family
The Department of Internal Affairs will check that you and your partner have been in a de facto relationship for at least one year prior to applying (they also say that time dating and in an online relationship may not count towards this one year period). That said, if there are strong compassionate reasons to disregard the one-year requirement, this may be considered. Such circumstances may include if:
- your partner holds or held a permanent humanitarian visa
- your de facto relationship existed before we granted their visa
- you de facto partner told us about the relationship before we granted their visa
- you are in a de facto relationship with a partner who is an applicant for a permanent humanitarian visa, or
- you have registered your relationship with an Australian authority such as a registry of births, deaths and marriages
What Are The Other Eligibility Requirements For An Australia Partner Visa?
Beyond the relationship requirements outlined above, if you are considering applying for a partner visa, you must be at least 18 and meet the Australian immigration health requirement (this applies to dependant family members too) and the character requirement (i.e. that you are of good character to visit or live in Australia and you have passed the character test). If you have children, the Australian immigration authorities will also check that granting you a partner visa will be in their best interests; if not, your application may be refused.
How Do I Apply For A Partner Visa For Australia?
The full application is outlined on the Australian Department of Internal Affairs website. It emphasises that before completing the application form (which is online), you should gather all of the documents needed to support your case. This includes gathering your:
- identity documents (e.g. birth certificate)
- evidence of your relationship with your partner – gathering documents for this can take some time as you will need to provide as much evidence as possible to show that you are in a genuine and ongoing relationship, your shared finances/household arrangements, shared social matters, and commitment to a long-term relationship. If you are in a de facto relationship, you may also need to provide additional evidence that you have been together for at least one year.
- Evidence of the previous relationship (e.g. that previous marriages have ended)
- Character documents
Once all documents are collated, you can complete your online application. You may then need to have your biometric information collected (this includes having your fingerprints scanned), and a health examination. Once your application has been processed, you will be advised in writing if it has been accepted or refused. If approved, you will be given a visa grant number, the date your visa starts, and the conditions which apply to your visa.
The key to securing a positive decision to a partner visa for Australia is providing enough evidence that your relationship is genuine and ongoing. An immigration lawyer will be able to advise you if the documents you have gathered will be sufficient for this purpose, and if not, which items of evidence you should get hold of before making your application.