If you have recently found the person of your dreams and are making arrangements to live together, perhaps even get married and have a family, you will have much to consider. But if you are British, and your partner is Australian, deciding where to live can be fraught with concerns over leaving loved ones behind. This is the conundrum faced by thousands of couples who have to choose in which country to base their lives and those of their children. If you have made the decision to live in Australia, you will need to navigate the Australian immigration system and apply for a spouse visa. In this article, we will explain how to apply for an Australian partner visa, the eligibility criteria, the application fees, and the expected processing times.
You will be able to apply for an Australian spouse visa if you are in a genuine and subsisting relationship with your spouse or de facto partner who is:
The Australian Department of Internal Affairs defines a 'spouse' as one of two people in a married relationship if they are married to each other under a marriage that is valid for the purposes of the Migration Act and have a mutual commitment to a shared life excluding all others, have a genuine and continuing relationship, and live together or don't live separately and apart on a permanent basis.
A de facto relationship is one in which you are not married to your partner but you are are committed to a shared life excluding 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. A de facto relationship can be with someone of the same or different sex, and you must have been together for at least 12 months.
The other eligibility criteria for an Australian spouse visa are as follows:
Once granted, Australian provisional partner visa holders can reside, work, and study in Australia, in addition to being able to travel without restriction into and out of the country as many times as needed. The full partner visa allows the individual to remain indefinitely, sponsor eligible family members to move to Australia, and apply for Australian citizenship.
The application process for an Australian spouse visa is separated into a two-part process. You first apply for a Partner (provisional) visa (subclass 309) which is applied outside of Australia (e.g. in the UK). Once in Australia, you can then apply for the full Partner visa. The provisional visa allows you to enter and remain in Australia while the full visa is processed.
The steps for making an application are as follows:
The application fee for a provisional partner visa is AUD7,715 and the processing time is currently 18 months for 75% of cases and 26 months for 90% of cases. While the application fee is undoubtedly high, there is no further cost when applying for the full partner visa this is included in the costs of the provisional visa.
Applying for an Australian partner visa requires a considerable investment of time, money, and effort. Given the not inconsiderable processing times and application fees, it is important to ensure that your application and supporting documents are correct when you first apply. Any errors, missing information, or missing documents may result in the processing time being extended, and in some cases the application refused.
For this reason, it is recommended that you seek the help of international immigration lawyers who can review your application and documents prior to submission, or manage the whole process for you. Not only will this reduce the anxiety and worry that you may have made a mistake in your application, it means that your case has the very best chance of a positive outcome. We wish you all the very best with your family life in Australia.
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