What is a Partner Visa?

This article has been written in collaboration with Nicole Kirkwood, Director of Australian Visa and Immigration Experts (AVIE) and Registered Migration Agent (MARN: 0962323).

If you and your partner are in a relationship and want to spend your life together in Australia, a Partner visa could make it possible. Whether you are currently together in Australia or are in a long-distance relationship, there are options for you to remain united or to reunite down the line. Here is what you need to know about the partner visas available if you want to settle in Australia.

What is a partner visa?

The Partner visa allows the partner or spouse of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen to live in Australia permanently.

There are two main types of Partner visa depending on whether you apply in Australia (onshore) or outside of Australia (offshore).

You apply for the temporary and the permanent partner visas at the same time.  

Note: If you are in a long term relationship, you may be granted your permanent residency in Australia via the 801/309 visa straight away. Usually, however, the steps towards this visa are as follows: 

  1.     Apply for the Partner visa (subclass 820/801 or 309/100) and also complete a sponsorship application. If granted a subclass 820 or 309, you will hold a temporary visa. 
  2.     After two years you are usually required to make a new application for the permanent stage and when granted you will hold permanent residence. 

The temporary/provisional Partner visa lets you:

  • Live, work and study in Australia while your permanent Partner visa is processed
  • Access Medicare 
  • Attend free English language classes provided by the Adult Migrant English Program

The permanent Partner visa lets you:

  • Live, work and study in Australia indefinitely
  • Sponsor eligible family members to come to Australia
  • Apply for Australian citizenship if eligible

What are the eligibility requirements for the Partner visa (subclasses 820 and 309)?

  1. Be onshore (for subclass 820) or offshore (for subclass 309).
  2. Meet relationship requirements i.e. you must be in a genuine ongoing relationship with an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen. You can be married, in a de facto relationship of at least 12 months or have your relationship registered.
  3. Have a sponsor (your partner) – your partner must meet character requirements
  4. Be the right age (18 or older)
  5. Meet the DHA’s health requirement
  6. Meet the DHA’s character requirement

Note: If you have applied for the Partner visa (subclass 309) outside Australia but are in Australia during the COVID-19 concession period, you may be granted a visa in Australia if you meet all other visa criteria.

What are the eligibility requirements for the Partner visa (subclasses 801 and 100)?

  1. Hold a temporary Partner visa (subclass 820 if onshore, subclass 100 if offshore)
  2. Continue to meet relationship requirements i.e. in most cases, continue to be in a married or de facto relationship with your partner who sponsored your temporary visa

Applying for a Partner visa during the pandemic

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is still possible to apply for a Partner visa from onshore or offshore. If you are granted a 309 or 100 from offshore, you can travel to Australia despite the border closures.

The Department of Home Affairs has committed to processing Partner visas in line with the government’s current processing priorities.

Is the Partner visa application easy? Can I apply myself or do I need an agent?

Like any visa, you can apply by yourself, however, you must ensure that you have all the documents you need prior to lodging or your visa may be refused which can be a costly and time-consuming process. The Department of Home Affairs website offers a step-by-step overview of the documents you need and the application process for the Partner visa applicable to you.

Where to go for visa support

The Department of Home Affairs website is the first place you should seek up to date information regarding visas in Australia. Alternatively, you can seek help from a Registered Migration Agent who can answer all your visa-related questions and assist you with your visa application.