First published 20/09/2010. Updated 22/02/2019.
You are currently in a relationship with an Australian or a permanent resident of Australia and want to settle in Australia on his/her side? A specific visa exists! The Partner visa or Spouse visa allows you to become a permanent resident of Australia. You will find here all the necessary conditions to obtain the Partner visa but also some tips to make the process easier.
The Partner visa classification varies depending if you are applying in Australia (visa 820-801) or outside Australia (visa 309-100). Conditions and procedure are identical, only the visa subclass changes.
The Partner visa application is divided in two steps. First, you apply for a temporary visa (subclass 820 or 309). Two years later, from the date you submitted your first application, you are allowed to apply for the permanent residency (Subclass 801 or 100).
Conditions to apply for a Partner visa
Sharing your life with an Australian, a permanent resident of Australia or an eligible citizen of New Zealand, being in love and full of projects is unfortunately not enough to be eligible.
- You need to be married or in a De Facto relationship to be able to apply. To be considered as a De Facto relationship, your relationship must have begun at least a year before the date of your application. The relationship must also have been genuine and continuing from the start.
- You need to hold a valid passport.
- If you are applying from Australia you will need to fill in an application for a visa subclass 820-801.
- If you are applying outside Australia you will need to fill in an application for a visa subclass 309-100.
Partner visa 820 or 309 are temporary visas.
What a Partner visa 820 or 309 allows you to do
- Live in Australia until a decision is made concerning your permanent visa
- Work in Australia
- Study in Australia (without receiving government funds)
- Apply for Medicare
On the visa subclass 309, you can also get free English classes (up to 510 hours!).
As soon as your partner visa has been approved, you get permission to stay in Australia permanently (Permanent Residency)
What a Partner visa 801 or 100 allows you to do
- Permanent residency in Australia (providing you renew your visa every five years)
- Work and study in Australia
- Apply for citizenship
- Receive social payments from the government (Centrelink, Child Support,…)
- Travel to and from Australia during five years from the starting date of your visa. After five years you will have to apply for a specific visa to keep travelling.
How to apply for a Partner Visa
Applying for a Partner visa is a long and difficult process. Be aware that before submitting your application to Immigration you will have to get numerous documents ready. Allow yourself a few months to be able to regroup all the information needed.
You will have to prepare a fair amount of documents to prove the authenticity of your relationship. A checklist is available on the government website, going from ID documents to a category “Proof of the authenticity of the relationship”. This last part, very important but also extremely subjective regroups a large selection of documents (photos, personal messages, history of the relationship, etc.).
Documents are divided in thematic:
- Forms about the applicant and the sponsor (47SP and 40SP), respectively 30 and 15 pages. You will be giving information about you identity, your family, your way of life, your incomes but also how you and your partner met, etc.
- Statutory Declarations from family members or friends, witnessing the legitimacy of your relationship
- Official documents justifying the existence of the relationship. It can be a certified copy of your wedding certificate or one from the certificate received after registering your relationship in front of the Australian government.
- Health and character requirement. You will have to go to a medical with specific examinations depending on your native country and the countries you have visited. You will also need to fill in a 20 page form about yourself (all your addresses since you are born, all your travel destinations for the past 10 years). Finally you will need to send a police check for all the countries you lived in for more than a year, for your native country and Australia.
- ID documents for the applicant and the sponsor (passport copy, certified and translated by a certified translator, if not in English, copy of your birth certificate, two passport format pictures, etc.)
- Proof of the authenticity of the relationship. Documents concerning the financial aspect of the relationship, the organisation of your daily life at home, your social life as a couple, your projects and your implication in the relationship. You will be asked for a written story about your couple, to send invoices, to explain how you share the chores, to speak about your going out life together, your travels. You will need to prove you have been in Australia for more than a year and show you always kept contact everytime you took time away from each other.
All proves can be interesting, they go from bank statements to the picture of your pet or the invoice for your partner’s last birthday present. However avoid to send too much proof of the same type (50 pictures of your partner and your parents, 30 restaurants receipts, etc), one is enough!
Remember also that when you apply online you can only attached 60 files to the application.
The visa application
Once your documents gathered, you can submit your application:
- Online via your Immi Account
- Via the Post office
- In person (there are immigration offices in all big Australian cities)
Once your application sent, you will be notified of the reception of the documents and transferred on a bridging visa (it can take a few weeks). A long waiting period starts, you probably won’t have any news from the government for the next months.
If you are in Australia while applying, your Bridging visa will allow you to stay on the territory until you receive an answer. Be careful, during this period you aren’t allowed to leave the country. You will have to ask for a specific Bridging visa (B) to be allowed to leave the country for a certain period (you will have to pay $145 for this visa).
Cost of the Partner visa
The cost of the Partner visa is $7,715.
Unfortunately the price only includes the visa application; it doesn’t include all the extra costs. This amount isn’t reimbursable, even if you don’t get your visa.
The processing time for the partner visa 820 is around 21 to 25 months and for 309 around 13 to 18 months. It is possible that the government is going to contact you while processing your visa to ask for additional documents, to undertake some medical examination. Check your Immi Account often as well as your emails to answer their request as fast as possible.
Your rights if your application is accepted
Once your application accepted, you will receive a temporary visa. Two years after the submission of your first application (and not from its approval) you will be able to apply for the permanent residency (Subclass 801 or 100 depending if you are in Australia or outside Australia when applying for the visa). You won’t have any additional costs for this visa. However you might be asked for further medical examination (chargeable to you). You might also be asked for more information concerning your relationship, to make sure it is still genuine and continuing.
Using a migration agent
You have probably heard from the migration agent and if you can afford one, you will avoid a lot of stress and nightmares.
However be careful and choose a competent agent. Indeed the risk is to find an agent who is going to ask you to do all the work. It would be a shame to spend that much money to end up doing the entire job yourself and get told to check the immigration checklist! You need someone helpful and trustworthy. The objective is to help you administratively, psychologically and to give you numerous tips to make the process easier.
Prices also vary a lot and aren’t usually available online. You will have to contact the agent for more information. Many agents offer a starting price around $1000 to check your application is ready before submission. Complete services start around $4000. You can also decide to pay an hourly rate, usually around $100/hour.
Also note that even if the price seems high, the preparation of a Partner visa application is long and complicated. Your agent will need weeks and sometimes months to organize all the documents.
For more information consult the Australian immigration website:
- Partner Visa 820 (Temporary)
- Partner Visa 801 (Permanent)
- Partner Visa 309 (Provisional) & 100 (Migrant)
For more information about different kinds of visas, consult our visa section.