If you have met an Australian national partner to whom you plan to get married, these will be exciting times. No doubt you will want to arrange your marriage as soon as possible and settle down to start your married life. If you plan to get married and live in Australia, you will need to secure the necessary immigration clearance to do so. While there is a specific visa scheme for this purpose, it has to be said that the application process can be very slow. In this article, we will explain how the Australian prospective marriage visa works, how to apply, how long a decision will take, and what you can do to keep the processing time to a minimum.
As the name suggests, the Australian prospective marriage visa is designed to enable non-Australian citizens to enter and remain in the country for a fixed period to get married to their Australian partner. The visa allows holders to do the following:
It is important to remember that the nine months commences as soon as your visa is granted, not when you first arrive in Australia.
Yes, once you are married, you can then apply for a Partner visa (under subclasses 820 and 801). This is essentially a two stage process; you first apply for a temporary Partner visa (subclass 820) which will allow you to remain in Australia while your permanent Partner visa (subclass 801) is processed. With a permanent Partner visa, you will be able to remain indefinitely.
If you plan to live with your Australian partner in Australia, another option is to apply as a de facto partner. This has similar processing times (see below for further details), and means you will not need to make a second application. To be classed as being in a de facto relationship, you will need to satisfy the Australian Department of Internal Affairs that you:
A de facto relationship can be with someone of the same or different sex.
The Australian Department of Internal Affairs website states that, as of the time of writing (September 2020), the processing times and application fees for these visas are as follows:
75 o;f applications in 26 months
90 o;f applications in 30 months
The visa costs AUD7,715 for the main applicant.
75 o;f applications: 23 months
90 o;f applications: 27 months
The visa costs AUD1,285 for Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300) holders. The full cost of the visa if already married or applying as a de-facto relationship is AUD7,715.
75 o;f applications: 11 months
90 o;f applications: 22 months
The cost of this visa is included in the temporary partner visa.
For all visa types, you will also need to factor in the cost of health insurance, health checks, police certificates, and having your biometric information taken. All of these can add considerably to the cost of your prospective partner or partner visa.
It should also be pointed out that the above processing times may be extended if you do not fill in your application form correctly (or you make any false representations), you do not include all the documents needed, the Australian immigration authorities need more information, or there are delays in verifying some of the information included in your application. This may also apply if you don't pay the full visa application fee. Such delays don't necessarily mean your application won't be successful as the Department of Internal Affairs will write to you where needed, but every clarification sought will delay your final decision.
There is no accelerated processing route for family / partner visas in Australia, however, to minimise the time taken to grant your visa, it is recommended that you have your visa application checked by an immigration solicitor before it is submitted. It is very common for errors to be made, eligibility rules to be misunderstood, key information to be omitted, and invalid or incorrect documents provided (e.g. if a document is not correctly translated or certified).
Immigration lawyers can also provide a covering letter with your application if they can foresee a potential problem with your application. This will ensure that the immigration officer processing your application will have all of the information to hand in order to make a decision, rather than having to seek clarification. In addition, this means that you can relax in the knowledge that the best possible submission has been made and will eliminate worries that you may have missed something important.
Moving to Australia to be with your Australian partner (or a person settled in Australia) will be an exciting time for you both. Given the long application time frames, it is always recommended that you speak to an immigration lawyer before applying to ensure a) you are applying under the best immigration route, b) you meet all eligibility requirements, and c) your application is correct in every way before it is submitted. We wish you all of the very best with your married life in Australia.
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