New legislation has recently been introduced that will significantly change whether an Australian Partner visa application can be lodged whist the applicant is in Australia.
The new Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill was passed through Parliament on 10 December 2018.
It is yet to be confirmed when the new law will take effect and partner visa applications lodged until then are to be assessed under the current partner visa application requirements.
What is the current process?
Part of the criteria for Partner permanent residence requires the visa applicant to be sponsored by an Australian permanent resident, Australian citizen or eligible New Zealand citizen. Together, the visa applicant and their partner submit their applications to the Department of Home Affairs.
Lodging a valid partner visa whilst in Australia allows the visa applicant to obtain a Bridging Visa A (BVA) which will take effect when their current visa expires.
The BVA holder will then be able to remain in Australia until a decision is made on the partner application. During this processing time the BVA holder will also be entitled to Medicare and have full work rights.
What will change?
The new Bill requires the partner to first lodge their sponsorship application and have it approved before partner visa can be lodged.
It is unclear how long the decision process of the sponsorship application will take, current process times are approximately 12 to 18 months.
What are the impacts?
Partner visa applicants with limited time remaining on their current visa will be required to either lodge a valid visa application that will allow them to stay in the country, or depart Australia and remain overseas until the partner visa is granted.
Until a valid visa application is lodged whilst in Australia, the applicant will not be entitled to a BVA, Medicare or (in some instances) full work rights.
When does this take effect?
There is no commencement date yet but, it could happen at any time.
To minimise the impact, we recommend lodging the partner visa application as soon as you are eligible.
The Partner visa application process may appear straight forward and in some instances this is. However, there are many complexities which can result in refusal with no refund of the visa application fees if you are not aware of some of the little known facts
To give yourself a great chance of success we recommend seeking expert advice and guidance from a reputable Registered Migration Agent or practicing solicitor that specialises in Immigration law.