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 next month will now be considered separately on their own individual merits.
In November, the new reforms will consist of the following:
- Introducing an English language requirement for permanent resident sponsors and Partner visa applicants; and
- Applying a new sponsorship framework that will require Australian sponsors to become ‘approved sponsors’ before an applicant can proceed to lodge a partner visa.
In November, 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.
As always, 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.
If this additional step to the sponsorship component is to be extended this will negatively impact onshore Partner visa applicants wanting to lodge a visa application prior to their substantive visa expiring.
English language requirements
The Australian Partner visa program does not presently require applicants or sponsors to meet any English language requirements.
The upcoming Partner visa reforms will require visa applicants and their permanent resident sponsors to provide evidence of a functional level of English or to demonstrate that they have made reasonable efforts to learn English at the time of the permanent Partner visa stage.
Which visas will these requirements apply to?
- Partner (subclasses 820 & 801) Visa
- Partner (subclasses 309 & 100) Visa
- Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) Visa
What is considered ‘Functional English
You can demonstrate you have functional English if you:
- Completed a degree, higher degree, a diploma or a trade certificate in an institution in or outside of Australia that required at least two years of full-time study and all instruction was in English;
- You completed all years of primary and at least 3 years of secondary school in or outside of Australia and all instruction was in English;
- You completed 5 years of secondary school in or outside of Australia and all instruction was in English;
- You completed 1 year of full-time study towards an award in Australia and all instruction was in English;
- You completed the part-time equivalent of 1 year of full-time study towards an award in Australia and all instruction was in English;
- You achieved an average band score of 4.5 in IELTS;
- You achieved a total band score of at least 32 in TOEFL iBT;
- You achieved a total band score of at least 30 in PTE; or
- You achieved a total band score of at least 147 in CAE.
Who will be exempt from the English language requirements?
These requirements will apply to passport holders from countries other than:
- New Zealand
- United States
- United Kingdom
How Thames Migration can help you position your Partner visa application
If you are planning on applying for a partner visa in the near future, we highly recommend that you consider applying for the partner visa application sooner rather than later.
If you would like further information on the Australian Partner visa reform, assistance applying for a Partner visa or for further assistance with any other migration or visa issues, please contact our offices in Australia or the United Kingdom today.