Australia has recently introduced changes to the Partner Visa. The Australian Parliament passed the new Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill on 10thDecember 2018. However, the date from when the new law will come into effect is yet to be announced.

What is the current Partner Visa process?

The Partner Visa of Australia lets the spouse or common-law partner of an Australian PR or citizen to live permanently in Australia. The Partner Visa applicant should be sponsored by an Australian PR or citizen. The sponsor and the visa need to submit their applications to the Dept. of Home Affairs.

When the visa applicant lodges a Partner Visa while in Australia, they may obtain a Bridging Visa. The Bridging Visa is effective after the expiry of the current visa. The Bridging Visa holder is allowed to remain in Australia until the time a decision is made on the Partner Visa application.

During this time, the Bridging Visa holder has full work rights. They also have access to Medicare, Australia’s healthcare scheme.

What is the proposed change?

The new Bill would now require the partner in Australia to first lodge their sponsorship application. Only if the sponsorship application is approved can a Partner Visa be lodged.

The processing time for the sponsorship application under the new Bill is not yet clear. The current processing times for sponsorship applications are 12 to 18 months, as per SBS News.

How will it impact?

Applicants who do not have much time left on their current visa may need to exit Australia. They may be required to remain overseas till their Partner Visa application is granted.

If the applicants wish to stay on in Australia, they will need to file for an appropriate visa to remain in the country. Till the time this is done, they may not have work rights and access to Medicare. These applicants will not be entitled to a Bridging Visa.

To thus minimize the effects of the new rule change, applicants should lodge their Partner Visa applications as soon as they become eligible. Partner Visa application is a complex process with a substantial fee involved. It is highly recommended to consult a Registered Migration Agent to smoothen the process of the Partner Visa application.

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