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Expertise

Partner
Visa

Find visa options for partners of Australians and New Zealand citizens – what visa can I apply for, and what are the requirements?

TYPES OF PARTNER VISAS

What partner visa options are available?

There are several partner visa options available depending on whether your relationship is with an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or with a New Zealand citizen.

Partner visa

If you are the partner of an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen (see below for details on who is an eligible New Zealand citizen), you may be able to apply for an Australian Partner visa. Partner visas can also be referred to as a “spouse visa” or “de facto visa”.

Onshore Partner visa (subclass 820/801)

  • This is a partner visa that is applied for when the visa applicant is in Australia, meaning you are ‘onshore’
  • You can be married or in a de facto relationship to qualify for this visa
  • You will be granted a bridging visa associated with the application, and will be able to remain in Australia while it is being processed
  • When being granted this visa, you must be in Australia

Offshore Partner visa (subclass 309/100)

  • This is a partner visa that is applied for when the visa applicant is not in Australia, meaning you are ‘offshore’
  • To be granted this visa, you must be outside of Australia at the time the visa is granted

The Onshore and Offshore Partner Visa both involve a two-stage process. If you meet the criteria for a partner visa, you are first granted a temporary partner visa (either subclass 820 or subclass 309). Two years after you apply for your partner visa the visa applicant will be eligible for the second permanent visa stage (subclass 801 or subclass 100).

Partner of a New Zealand citizen

If you are the spouse or de facto partner of a New Zealand citizen who is not an eligible New Zealand citizen, and has the Special Category Visa (subclass 444) or they would be granted one when coming to Australia, the New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship (Temporary) visa (subclass 461) may be available to you. This is a temporary visa that would allow you to stay in Australia for 5 years with your eligible New Zealand citizen partner. This visa is also available to other eligible family members, such as children who are not New Zealand citizens.

What are the requirements for a partner visa?

To be eligible for a partner visa, you must be married to (i.e. are a spouse) or be the de facto partner of an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen.

Your Australian partner will need to lodge a sponsorship application as well to show that they are your sponsor for the visa.

The main requirements married spouses must show are:

  • Their marriage is valid under Australian law – examples of marriages that may not be valid marriages include polygamous marriages, some underage marriages, and where the marriage is between people of prohibited degree of relationship such as siblings
  • They are mutually committed to a shared life together to the exclusion of all others
  • Their relationship is genuine and continuing
  • They are living together or if living apart, it is not on a permanent basis

The main requirements de facto partners must show are:

  • They are not married to each other
  • They are mutually committed to a shared life together to the exclusion of all others
  • Their relationship is genuine and continuing
  • They are living together or if living apart, it is not on a permanent basis

There are also health and character requirements that must be met for a successful partner visa application.

Generally, partners of New Zealand citizens are not eligible to apply for the above Onshore and Offshore Partner Visas, however, there is an exception to this. New Zealand citizens may be eligible for a partner visa if you are partner of a New Zealand citizen who:

  • Was in Australia on 26 February 2001, or
  • Was in Australia for 12 months in the 2 years before 26 February 2001, or
  • Were assessed as a protected Special Category visa (SCV) holder and were issued a Centrelink certificate that states you were living here at a particular time

What are the requirements for a subclass 461 New Zealand citizen family relationship visa?

The main requirements you must demonstrate are that:

  • You are not a New Zealand citizen
  • You are an eligible family member of a New Zealand citizen, which includes being their spouse or de facto partner
  • Your New Zealand citizen family member must be in Australia on a subclass 444 Special Category Visa, or if they are not in Australia yet, would be granted a subclass 444 visa upon arrival in Australia and you will be traveling with them

What is the processing time for a partner visa?

Partner visa processing times are regularly updated by the Department of Home Affairs. For the past few years the processing times have unfortunately increased:

Onshore Partner visa (subclass 820/801)

  • Processing times: around 2-3 years 

Offshore Partner (Provisional and Migrant) visa (subclass 309/100)

  • Processing times: around 1-2 years

The New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship (temporary) visa (subclass 461)

  • Processing time: several years is estimated.

Note: see Department website for regularly updated processing times.

Can I appeal a refusal of a partner visa?

Most Australian partner visa refusals have the right to be appealed to a tribunal or a court. If your partner visa application was lodged offshore, your Australian citizen partner may be able to lodge the appeal.   

You should read your partner visa refusal notice carefully because each decision is different. This letter should advise:

  • if you have the right to appeal your decision
  • the timeframe available to lodge the appeal
  • the relevant appeal body your appeal should be directed to.

If your letter does not outline this information we suggest that you obtain legal advice.

The most common place to appeal a partner visa refusal decision is to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). There are strict time limits when appealing to the AAT so it is very important to read the appeal deadline in your visa refusal letter carefully. Unfortunately, AAT appeal deadlines cannot be extended. You can read more about the appeals process on our Administrative Appeals Tribunal page.

If you applied for an Onshore Partner Visa (subclass 820/801), your bridging visa can continue throughout the AAT appeal, as long as certain criteria are met.

Some visa refusal decisions are appealed to the courts instead. For example, when the Minister for Immigration personally decides to refuse the partner visa based on character grounds. You can read more about this process on our Court appeals page.

If you are intending to appeal your partner visa refusal we recommend you seek legal advice as soon as possible so that you can learn if your appeal is likely to win. In some cases a visa appeal cannot win because certain visa criteria have not been met.

Our immigration lawyers are partner visa experts. Book a free 15 minute consultation online to discuss partner visa options and requirements. 

An experienced migration lawyer can make all the difference when you need.

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