Can We Apply for a Partner Visa?


Partner Visas allow the partner or spouse (same or opposite sex) of an Australian Citizen, Australian Permanent Resident, or eligible New Zealand Citizen to reside in Australia permanently, providing a reliable and secure way to permanent residency.

There are two Partner Visa pathways, each made up of two visas:

  1. The offshore Partner Visa (Subclasses 309 and 100)
  2. The onshore Partner Visa (Subclasses 820 and 801)

Both the offshore and the onshore Partner Visas are combination visas, which means that applicants apply for both visas at the same time with the temporary visa transitioning to the permanent visa (generally after two years).


Why apply for a Partner Visa?


Partner Visa holders can live, study, and work in Australia, and may sponsor family members to join them.

They can also access Australia’s public health care system (Medicare) and apply for Australian citizenship once eligible.

Eligible visa holders may also attend English language lessons free of charge, provided by the Adult Migration English Program.

There are no travel restrictions for holders of either visa, however permanent visa holders will need to apply for a Resident Return Visa (RRV) to travel after 5 years.


Partner Visa Requirements


Applicants must satisfy the following:

  • Meet the relationship requirements,
  • Be over 18 years of age,
  • Meet the health requirements,
  • Meet the character requirements,
  • Have no debt to the Australian government, and
  • Not have had a visa cancelled or a previous application refused.

The applicant’s partner must also sponsor them for two years after the temporary visa is granted.

The visa will not be granted if it is not in the best interests of an applicant under the age of 18 (child).


Partner Visa Evidence


Partner Visa applicants are required to demonstrate that they are in a genuine and continuing relationship to the exclusion of all others.

The applicant is required, as part of the application process, to provide the Department of Home Affairs (Department) with evidence of their relationship.

This may include evidence documenting:

  • the applicant’s relationship history,
  • evidence of a shared household,
  • evidence of joint financial arrangements,
  • evidence that the relationship is recognised socially, and
  • evidence that the applicants are committed to each other long-term.

Examples of such evidence include:

  • Joint ownership or joint rental of the house in which you live,
  • Correspondence addressed to both of you at the same address,
  • Joint utility accounts (electricity, gas, telephone),
  • Joint bank accounts,
  • Proof that you and your partner have declared your relationship to government bodies, commercial or public institutions,
  • Photographs of you together with a description of people, location and dates,
  • Proof of joint travel, such as travel tickets and itineraries,
  • Evidence of communication via social media, and
  • Estate planning documents (e.g., Will, Advanced Care Directive, and Enduring Power of Attorney).


Age & Health Requirements


Ordinarily, applicants must be 18 years old or older to apply for a Partner Visa and minimum health standards must be satisfied.

However, if an applicant develops a health issue at the time of application, or has an underlying health problem, they may apply for a health waiver.

To apply for the Partner Visa, the applicant and any members of the family unit or dependent child must also be free from any disease that are:

  • A significant healthcare and community service cost to the Australian community, and
  • Likely to limit the access of Australian Citizens and permanent residents to healthcare and community services that are in short supply.

As part of the application process, the applicant and any members of the family unit will be required to undertake a health examination.

A health examination is valid for 12 months.


Character Requirement


The good character requirements apply to all visa applicants, including members of the family and dependent children.

The Department will decide if the applicant is of good character.

Applicants who have a good conduct record and do not have substantial criminal records (prison for more than 12 months) will be deemed to meet the requirement.

A common way to prove this is by obtaining an Australian Federal Police Certificate.

The applicant must also declare all criminal offences and truthfully answer all questions.

The Department will not grant a Partner Visa if there is a risk that the applicant will engage in criminal conduct and be in danger to the Australian community.

Learn more about visa implications related to criminal convictions.


Australian Debts & Visa History


If any outstanding debts are owed to the Australian government by the applicant or a family member, such debts must be paid before making an application.

The applicant may not be eligible for a Partner Visa if they have had an earlier visa cancelled or refused whilst in Australia.


Onshore Partner (Subclass 820 & 801)


The Temporary Partner Visa (Subclass 820) is the first stage to becoming a permanent resident through the Partner Visa pathway when the visa applicant is in Australia at the time of application.

Once the visa is granted, applicants may study, work and live in Australia while awaiting the outcome of their permanent visa.

In certain circumstances, the temporary visa may transition automatically into the permanent Partner Visa providing the eligibility criteria is satisfied.

However, in instances where the application is refused, the applicant may be eligible to apply for a review of the decision at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

Although it is a lengthy process, appealing a visa refusal allows the applicant to remain onshore until the AAT has made a decision (between July 2022 and March 2023, 56% of Partner Visa appeals were successful, according to the AAT website).

If the Permanent Partner (Subclass 801) visa is not granted automatically, the Department will notify the applicant of their eligibility to apply for the permanent visa, usually 2 years after their initial application was lodged.

Substantive evidence is then required to demonstrate that the applicant is still in a genuine relationship with their spouse or de facto partner to the exclusion of all others.


Offshore Partner (Subclass 309 & 100)


The Subclass 309 is the equivalent of the onshore temporary Partner Visa, however the visa applicant must be offshore at the time of application.

Once granted, the applicant can travel to Australia to begin their life onshore with their spouse/de facto partner.

The holder of a Subclass 309 visa can also study, work, and live in Australia while waiting to apply for the permanent Partner Visa (Subclass 100).

Importantly, if the Subclass 309 is refused by the Department, the applicant is not able to apply for a merits review of the decision themselves, however their Australian Citizen or permanent resident spouse can apply for merits review with the AAT on the applicant’s behalf.

This is different to the onshore Partner Visa where the applicant or the sponsor can lodge their own application for merits review, in the event their application is refused.


Partner Visas & Permanent Residency


Applicants become permanent residents of Australia when their Subclass 100 or 801 visa is granted.

If the visa applicant is outside Australia at the time their visa is granted, they must enter Australia before the date specified in their grant letter – usually 12 months from the date of the visa grant.

Dependent Child (Subclass 445) visa holders may also apply for the Permanent Partner Visa.


Can you skip the Temporary Partner Visa?


All applicants must apply for a temporary and permanent Partner Visa, either onshore or offshore.

However, in exceptional circumstances, onshore Partner Visa applicants may be granted the temporary and permanent Partner Visas simultaneously.

Generally, applicants who have been in a long-term relationship for 3 or more years, or 2 or more years with a child together (dependent), may receive permanent residency automatically without having to wait the usual 2-year period.

However, this depends solely on the strength of the application/the substantive evidence included in the application and the Department’s discretion.


Why would a Partner Visa be refused?


A Partner Visa application may be refused if the Department does not view the relationship as genuine – this is the main reason applications are refused.


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Related Blog – Can I apply for a Partner Visa while on a Bridging Visa?

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