Australian Partner Visas are about to change
There is about to be a major change to the way partner visas are processed splitting the process into 2 distinct and separate parts. Prior to these changes an application consisted of a sponsorship application by the Australian half of the relationship together with a visa application by the other partner and dependants. These processes from the 1st of July will now be considered separately on their own individual merits.
From this date, the Australian sponsor of the Partner visas will be required to apply for, and be approved as a sponsor before the visa application is lodged. If for any reason the sponsorship is not approved (the sponsor for example, is found to not be of good character) then the visa application cannot be made. There is no indication yet as to what fees will be charged or the exact requirements that sponsor and applicant will have to meet, though they will in all probability have at least to meet the current standard. Whether additional criteria will be set for sponsor or applicant is not yet known. The other unknown at present is how long it is going to take to complete this new process.
There will also be obligations on the sponsor to notify of any changes in circumstances and failure to do this will most likely result in penalties.
Australian Partner Visa – Character Requirement
Everyone who wants to enter or stay in Australia must satisfy the character requirement as set out in Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 (the Act). This includes all non-citizens, sponsors of visa applicants and non-migrating family members seeking to enter or stay in Australia.
Irrespective of which visa you apply for, you must advise the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) if you have any criminal convictions inside or outside of Australia, and you may be asked to provide police certificates as part of your assessment against the character test. Since 18 November 2016, sponsors of these visa applications will now need to:
- provide Australian (AFP) and/or foreign police checks when requested
- consent to us disclosing their convictions for relevant offences to the visa applicant(s).
Furthermore, when applying for a Partner visa, if you do not inform the DIBP of your criminal history, your visa application may be refused. A refusal can occur via Public Interest Criterion (PIC) 4020. PIC 4020 enables refusal of a visa if an applicant provides a bogus document or information that is false or misleading in relation to their application, or if the Minister is not satisfied of an applicant’s identity.
Given the new arrangements there is a very real risk that additional delays will be introduced when the system is changed leading to an increase in the time it will take to apply for and complete the partner visa process.
It is noteworthy to mention that the 1st July is the start of the new Financial Year in Australia and traditionally when changes to pricing and visa requirements are made. There is every indication this year that there will be significant changes to a number of visa programs including 457 employment visas and the Skilled Migration program.
Traditionally, at this time fees are increased in line with inflation but there have been a number of notable years where fees for some visas have risen substantially above this figure. Again traditionally the new fees and regulations are often published for the first time on the 1st July on the Department’s website.
Thames Migration suggest that if you are considering applying for an Australian Partner visa (Subclass 309/100) or (Subclass 300) or (Subclass 801/820) and you are eligible now, it would be wise to apply sooner rather than later, before 1 July 2017.
Contact Hannibal Khoury, our Australian Registered Migration Agent who specialises in Australian Partner visas from the United Kingdom to Australia.
Thames Migration is the leading Australian visa agency in London, United Kingdom offering all Australian visa and immigration services.