Understanding the Partner VISA process

There are two types of visas which let the de facto partner or spouse of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen to live in Australia, either temporarily or on a permanent basis:

  1. The Subclass 820 – a temporary visa, and it is the first step towards a permanent visa, but you have to be in Australia when you apply.
  2. The Subclass 801 – a permanent visa, can it can only be obtained by those who currently hold a temporary partner visa.

The permanent visa is normally reviewed two years after the visa application is lodged. At this stage, the Department may request further information to show that you are still in a genuine relationship prior to approving the permanent resident visa.

What do I need to show?

For each of the visas the applicant will need to demonstrate that they are in a genuine and continuing relationship with their sponsor. This is assessed against the 5 main criteria listed below:

  • History of your relationship:
    1. details of how, when and where you met and how your relationship developed;
    2. when you decided to marry and your future plans;
    3. your domestic arrangements: how you support each other financially, physically and emotionally and when this level of commitment began; and
    4. any periods of separation: when and why the separation occurred, for how long and how you maintained your relationship during the period of separation.
  • Financial evidence of your relationship:
    1. evidence of any joint ownership of major assets or sharing of finances, for example, a house, cars, appliances; and any joint liabilities, for example, loans, insurance;
    2. legal commitments that you and your partner have undertaken as a couple; and
    3. evidence that you and your partner have operated joint bank accounts for a reasonable period of time.
  • The nature of the household – documents to show you share responsibility of your household:
    1. your living arrangements (letters sent to both you and your partner at the same address
    2. a statement about the way housework is distributed;
    3. joint ownership or joint rental of the house in which you live;
    4. joint utilities accounts (electricity, gas, telephone) and bills for day-to-day living expenses; and
  • Social context of the relationship:
    1. evidence that you and your partner are usually accepted as a couple socially, for example, joint invitations, photo of you going out together, friends and acquaintances in common;
    2. evidence that you and your partner have declared your relationship to government bodies, commercial or public institutions or authorities, joint membership of organisations or groups; and
    3. evidence of joint participation in sporting, cultural or social activities; and any joint travel.
  • Nature of your commitment to each other:
    knowledge of each other’s personal circumstances, for example, background and family situation, which could be established at an interview;

    1. intention that your relationship will be long-term, for example, the extent to which you have combined your affairs; and
    2. if there was ongoing communication (such as phone calls) during periods of being apart.

What can I do with the temporary visa?

The temporary visa (Subclass 820) lets you stay in Australia until there is a decision made in relation to the permanent visa (Subclass 801) or the application is withdrawn. For most people, this stay is from 15 to 24 months.

For those of you who have been in a long term relationship (between 3 years and 2 years or more if there is a dependent child), you may be one of the lucky few who are immediately granted a permanent visa soon after being granted the temporary visa.

The temporary visa also enables you to:

  1. work in Australia;
  2. study in Australia (you will not receive government support);
  3. travel to and from Australia as many times as you want;
  4. attend up to 510 hours of free English language classes; and
  5. enrol in Australia’s public health care scheme, Medicare.

What can I do with the permanent visa?

The permanent visa (Subclass 801) lets you stay in Australia indefinitely, and just like the temporary visa, you can work and study in Australia.

The permanent visa also enables you to:

  1. enrol in Australia’s public health care scheme, Medicare;
  2. sponsor your family members to come to Australia;
  3. if eligible, attend free English language classes;
  4. travel to and from Australia for 5 years; and
  5. if eligible, apply for Australian citizenship.

Is it costly to apply?

The pricing of the application for the various visas are made by the Department of Home Affairs and may be subject to change. It is best that you check with an experienced migration agent who can break things down for you in a simple and easy to understand way.

What if I marry outside of Australia?

If you wish to marry outside of Australia, but are inside Australia at the time of the application, you may be eligible to apply for a Partner (subclasses 309/100) visa.

The process is largely the same, and an experienced migration lawyer can assist you in determining which visa application is the right one for you.

Where do I start?

Whether you’re applying for a temporary visa, or a permanent visa, it can be a confusing process. The benefit of speaking to an experienced migration agent is that they can walk you through the process, so you know exactly what to expect and what documents you need to provide to support your application.

This article is intended to provide general information only. You should obtain professional advice before you undertake any course of action.

If you know someone who needs this sort of legal assistance have them call us on 03 8415 5600 or email reception@hartleyslawyers.com.au. In doing so what have they got to lose?


Back to articles