Australian partner visas in a pandemic COVID-19 world

Whilst Australia has managed the COVID-19 pandemic much better than many other countries, it has been a tough period for many couples. Border closures, lockdowns and job losses have meant many couples have been separated for significant periods.

We have seen an upsurge in partner requests to process partner visa applications. The uncertainty surrounding the future has forced many couples to rethink their plans and the need to bring them forward and act with more urgency.

The benefits of partner visas are often overlooked. There is no English test, no worries regarding employer sponsorship and no age limits to name a few.

Whilst the cost of a partner application can be a disincentive ($AUD 7,715.00) we would argue the certainty associated with the visa far outweighs the initial cost.

The processing period for partner visas can be up to 20 months and you can make the application either onshore or offshore. With the border closure currently in place, it is a great time to make an offshore application and use the period of closure to your benefit.

We have assisted many partners to get back to Australia with exemptions to the border closures to be reunited with their loved ones. There are specific exemptions for immediate family members which includes spouses/partners, but you must provide proof of your relationship. It has been our experience that often spouses/partners have had to make multiple applications before granted so it is important to get it right.

If you are in Australia, making an application during these times will give you certainty as to your future in Australia.

The Australian visa system requires you to be either married or in a de facto relationship. Same sex couples are treated equally since December 2017 when the right to marry in Australia was not longer determined by sex or gender. After Australians voted in favour of marriage equality the Marriage Act 1961 was amended on 9 December 2017 to define marriage as ‘the union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’.

To satisfy the de facto requirements you must show that you have live together for at least 12 months, have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others and the relationship between them is genuine and continuing.

Often, we are asked about the 12-month period of living together and whether that can be shorter. The exemptions are:

  • If there are compelling and compassionate circumstances for the grant of the visa. For example, if there is a child of the relationship or if the laws in the applicant’s country prohibits living together as de facto partners.
  • The relationship is registered under a law of a state or territory prescribed in the Acts Interpretation (Registered Relationships) Regulations 2008 as a kind of relationship prescribed in those regulations. In Australia, New South Wales Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory allows de facto relationship registration. Unfortunately, other states do not allow registration.
  • Their partner is, or was the holder of a permanent humanitarian visa and, before the humanitarian visa was granted, was in a de facto relationship with the applicant that was declared to the Department of Home Affairs at the time of application.
  • Their partner is an applicant for a permanent humanitarian visa.

So, whether you are in Australia or outside Australia it is still possible to make an application in these unprecedented times.

Our team immigration lawyers and migration agents have helped hundreds of people realise their dream and deal with a range of issues surrounding Partner visas in these uncertain times.

Contact our team today to discuss your partner visa needs.

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