If you are married to an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident, or New Zealand citizen and want to live with that person in Australia you must apply for the appropriate partner visa. You can be granted a partner visa whether you are married or in a de-facto relationship as long as it is genuine and has lasted normally for at least the previous 12 months.
The granting of a permanent partner visa (subclass 801) can take many months, over a year in some cases, but the Australian government allows you to live, work and study in Australia before your permanent partner visa is granted on a temporary partner visa (subclass 820).
In fact, you have to apply for both the two visas (820 and 801) at the same time. Because the Australian partner visa processing time is so long, you actually stay with your partner on a temporary visa while waiting for a permanent visa to be granted.
Australian Partner Visa Checklist
The main Australian partner visa requirements (temporary) are that you:
- Are married or in a de-facto relationship with an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen;
- Are 18 or above in age. This is because under Australian law, you cannot get married until you are at least 18;
- Meet the Australian government’s health requirements. Basically, you have to have a medical examination before your visa is approved. The medical examination criteria are supplied by the DBIP (immigration department). Your dependent children who are going to accompany you must also pass an approved medical examination.
- Meet the character requirement. This is basically a test of previous or current criminal activity. You cannot be granted a partner visa if you have been convicted of a ‘substantial’ criminal charge. There are other criteria involved. You will need a police clearance certificate from your home country and a character reference.
- Have paid any debts to the Australian government;
- Have paid the visa application fee. This is quite hefty. Currently, the application fee for a partner visa (subclass 820) which you need to get permission for a temporary stay in the country while waiting for your permanent visa is Aus$7,610. This fee does include the cost of both the temporary and permanent visas as you apply for both at the same time.
Once you have a Temporary Partner Visa you can:
- live in Australia until a decision about the permanent visa is made
- work in Australia
- study in Australia
- apply for a Medicare card to obtain health care while in Australia
- come and go from Australia as many times as you like
- bring a dependent child or children with you to stay with you and your partner
Once you have a Permanent Partner Visa you:
- are a permanent resident in Australia and can live there for as long as you want;
- can work, study, obtain a Medicare card and obtain free English language classes if eligible;
- can apply for Australian citizenship after 5 years of residency;
- must apply for a resident returning visa (RRV) if you leave Australia after 5 years if you have not yet gained citizenship.
Australian Partner Visa Processing Times
Most partner visas are processed within 2 years of the application, but there is no guaranteed fixed time. The Department of Home Affairs gives the following estimated processing times for the permanent partner visa:
75% are processed within 23 months and 90% are processed within 27 months. Your permanent visa might take only a very short time if your marriage or de-facto partnership has been obviously in existence for a long time. Applications commonly get held up if insufficient documentation is provided or there are inconsistencies that immigration authorities are unsure about.