Before we get to that, there are a few things you should know about me.
I have a passion for collecting passports (I have three – British, Canadian, Australian). I’ve also inadvertently collected a few visas along the way (at last count, I had applied for five and had successfully gained three).
Passports and visas come with the territory when you travel often and choose to live abroad. You might want to stay longer-term in a place that you visit – and you need the right authorisations to do so.
I’ve generally always applied for Permanent Resident (PR) visas, as I never saw myself as someone wanting to only stay in a country for a few months. This ruled out the temporary or worker visas because I saw life abroad as a much longer proposition, and so I went down the route of PR where I could.
Leaving the Great White North for the Lucky Country
When we left the frigid cold of Canada for the unending heat of Australia in 2006, the most sensible option was for my wife (at the time, my girlfriend) to sponsor my entry to the land down under. And so I went the equivalent of the Partner visa route.
In those days, life seemed simpler and much more straightforward. I’m almost certain that we applied for, and then secured, the visa within a matter of months. And we applied from outside of Australia, so the process may have been different (read: quicker) than applying from within.
Either way, I went into the process with some trepidation and uncertainty at what was required of me, what lay ahead, and what my chances of success would actually be. I had heard stories of horrifying delays and bureaucratic nightmares, outright rejection and refusal of entry.
And so I had questions. Lots of questions. Which is why I wanted to set some of those stories and myths straight today.
Unpacking the Partner Visa
[Note that I am not a registered migration agent and the following information is based on my own experience and research – please talk to a qualified migration agent/lawyer or the Department of Home Affairs when making a decision to apply for a visa for Australia. Prices and processing times mentioned in the blog post were correct at the time of publication.]
- What exactly is the Partner visa?
The Partner visas (Subclasses 820 and 801) were designed to allow the partner or spouse of an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident the right to live in Australia. The temporary Partner visa (subclass 820) is granted first and lets you stay in Australia while the permanent Partner visa (subclass 801) is being processed. Once granted, you can live in Australia as a permanent resident and work towards gaining citizenship.
- How soon should I start the process?
It’s best to start the process and get familiar with the requirements well ahead of time. Even the most prepared person will still take time to download the form, gather evidence, complete the paperwork, and submit this with the requisite information. Never leave the application until you are close to nearing the end of any current visas you have for Australia, as you’ll be rushing against the clock and will likely miss the deadline. Consider seeking professional advice and support from a registered migration agent to speed things along and meet the requirements.
- Am I even eligible and do I need evidence to prove so?
To be eligible, you must be in a relationship with an Australia citizen or permanent resident and provide evidence to show that you both have lived together for at least 12 months prior to lodgment (with some exceptions). You should provide documents such as shared rental agreements and utility bills, evidence of car ownership or insurances in both names. Other evidence of your relationship can include joint travel tickets, bank accounts, statutory declarations, photographs and other relevant communication to showcase your relationship.
- Is it wildly expensive?
A Partner visa certainly isn’t cheap. Government fees currently run at $7,160 for the visa and you’ll also need to consider fees for things like health exams and police checks. On top of this, I’d suggest engaging professional representation to ensure that your visa application has the best chance of success. In every instance where I have personally engaged a migration agent, I’ve ultimately been successful in my visa application – they are the experts and they take the headaches of the application away from you.
- How long will my application take?
This can obviously vary depending on where you are applying from – within country or outside of Australia – plus a mix of other factors. That said, the current stated processing time is about 12 months for the Partner visa. Supporting documents often have expiration dates and can expire while the application is sat in the queue. Migration Agents, such as Aurec Migration & Mobility based in Sydney, the Gold Coast and Brisbane, are well-versed in this and can offer advice on when to provide your docs to ensure they are correct and the application is decision-ready for when the case officer reviews your application.
Whatever you decide to do and the visa path you decide to follow, prepare in advance for the process and expect things to take a while. Good things come to those that wait – applying for the Partner visa can come with its various challenges, but the desired outcome and reward will far outweigh any hurdles you met along the way.
This post is sponsored by Aurec Mobility & Migration, specialist Migration Advisors helping with Visas & Migration, offering Independent TSS with a Labour Hire Agreement, and keeping you informed with immigration news and opportunities in Australia.