Changes to Partner Visa Applications

Current Process

Applications for a partner visa can be done onshore in Australia or offshore. If the applicant is in Australia at the time of lodgement, the applicant may remain in Australia on a bridging visa until the time of decision.


The Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 (Cth) was recently passed. The most notable change is that the sponsor must submit an application before their partner can lodge a visa application, rather than at the same time. This change aim to protect Australian citizens from disingenuous visa applicants, as well as partner visa applicants from sponsors with a history of domestic violence.

The changes are yet to come into force and it could come into effect at any time. In the absence of any proclaimed date, the changes will come into place on 11 June 2019 at the latest.

What does this mean?

The upside is that if the sponsor application is refused, money will be saved as the $7,000+ Visa Application Charge does not need to be paid until the applicant lodges the visa application. There are some claims that it may truncate the process which currently has a waiting time of 21-25 months, but this is a theory yet to be proven.  There will also be consequences for sponsors who fail to meet their financial sponsorship obligations.

The major problem is that onshore applications may be more difficult because a bridging visa is not attached to a sponsor’s application, but the visa application. If an onshore applicant only has little time remaining on their current visa, the sponsor process might outlast their current visa expiry, meaning that the future partner visa applicant has no legal right to remain in Australia.

Likewise, if a partner is offshore and the sponsor applies for the sponsorship prior to the partner coming onshore, it will be difficult for that future partner applicant to come to Australia on a temporary visa because he or she will not meet the Genuine Temporary Entrant criteria.

If you have any questions or are contemplating applying for a partner visa, please contact us on (02) 6362 1866 before the changes come into force.

Vanessa Vazquez is an admitted solicitor and registered migration agent, practising in the Central West of New South Wales.

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Vanessa Vazquez       E: vanessa@whiteleys.com.au  P: +61 2 6362 1866

Emma Mulvey         E: emma@whiteleys.com.au

This publication is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting a migration lawyer.