Couple making heart shape with hands.

Applying for an Australian partner visa? Significant changes are ahead.

You may have heard in the papers or on social media that the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 was passed in both houses of parliament on 28 November 2018.

The Bill recently received Royal Ascent, which means the changes could be implemented at any point now. Partner visa applications lodged prior to the changes – and between now and when the changes officially come into force – will be assessed against current requirements.

Summary of partner visa changes

The Bill brings with it a number of significant reforms to sponsored family visas affecting both sponsors and visa applicants, including:

  • Requirement for sponsorship to be approved before the visa application can be lodged; 
  • Sponsorship obligations for family sponsors and sanctions for breach of obligations including being barred as a family sponsor; 
  • The Department of Home Affairs can share personal information between sponsors, visa applicants and other government agencies. 

It is unclear when the provisions of the Bill will come into effect, but it is likely to be in the very near future.

Although sponsoring partners currently have to provide police checks and other information, these changes are likely to lead to increased scrutiny.

Whilst the Bill states that a partner visa application cannot be made before a partner visa sponsor is approved, it remains to be seen whether or not the new regulations will allow a partner visa application to be lodged at the same time the sponsorship application is made (similar to business sponsorship applications). If this is not possible, then prospective visa applicants would not be able to lodge their applications until the sponsorship is approved and would not be entitled to a bridging visa in the meantime.

If an applicant’s current visa expires before the sponsorship part is approved, and they are not eligible for another type of visa, they may have to leave Australia and wait offshore during processing.

The Government has given no indication of how long a partner visa sponsorship application might take to be processed.

Having a separate partner visa sponsor application also suggests that a separate application fee may be imposed on those applications but this remains to be clarified.

If you are planning to apply for a partner visa, we strongly recommend you lodge now and do not delay.

 These partner visa changes are significant and may be difficult to navigate without professional help.

To arrange a free consultation with a Registered Migration Agent, call (NSW) 02 8206 8869 (WA) 08 6189 5333 (VIC) 03 9038 9070 or email [email protected] today.