Australian Immigration Law Update – Significant Changes Announced to Partner Applications

by | Aug 3, 2021 | Migration

Under a new sponsorship framework proposed to be introduced later this year there will be significant changes to the ways in which Partner Visa applications will be processed.

All prospective applicants, especially those persons in Australia holding visas with short to medium term expiry dates, need to be aware of these changes and how they may affect their situation.

Partner applications comprise a sponsorship by the Australian citizen or permanent resident partner, coupled with a visa application by the non-resident partner. Currently, these are both lodged with the Department at the same time.

If the application is made whilst the applicant is in Australia on a valid visa, the applicant is entitled to remain in Australia on what is known as a bridging visa until processing of the application is finalised. Up until these proposed changes come into operation, the most important step to take when making an application is to ensure that it is lodged before the expiry date of the visa held by the applicant. In many cases, the proposed new changes will make it difficult, if not impossible to ensure that this will happen.

The proposed new framework will require sponsors to lodge the sponsorship first, and only after that is approved, may their partner then lodge a visa application. This will clearly lead to great uncertainty on many fronts. First, it is not clear how long a sponsorship will take to be approved, however the department does not enjoy a strong reputation when it comes to speedy resolution of applications, and in fact current partner applications can take up to 2 years to finalise. So far there has been no indication from the Department about how it proposes to process sponsorships, and within what time frames.

Second, if a visa application cannot be lodged until a sponsorship is approved, persons in Australia holding valid visas and hoping to lodge applications, are likely to be subject to significant stress whilst waiting for processing of the sponsorship to be finalised, particularly if they do not have a great deal of time left on their visa. It is likely that in many cases the only option for this cohort will be to leave the country if processing of the sponsorship is not complete by the time of visa expiry, and no other visa options are available.

As if these changes are not enough, new minimum English requirements have also been announced for sponsors and applicants.

Permanent resident sponsors and partner visa applicants will have to be able to provide evidence of a functional level of English, or be able to demonstrate they have made ‘reasonable efforts’ to learn English by the time the application reaches  the second stage Permanent visa processing. Reasonable efforts may include the completion of the English-language casters classes through the Adult Migration English Program (AMEP).

Anyone who is contemplating lodging a Partner application and believes they are, or shortly will be eligible, is highly encouraged to make the application prior to the introduction of these new rules so as to reduce uncertainties associated with processing as much as possible.

Contact us today so we can help guide you through the Travel Waiver application process
Nevett Ford Lawyers – Immigration Lawyers Melbourne & Australian Citizenship Lawyers
Telephone: +61 3 9614 7111
Email: melbourne@nevettford.com.au
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