Assessing Eligibility for a Partner Visa in Australia
In Australia, a partner visa offers a pathway for individuals to join or remain with their partners and establish a life together in Australia. This visa category recognises and supports genuine relationships, enabling partners to live, work, and study in Australia. However, before embarking on an application for a partner visa, it is crucial to understand the eligibility criteria and the factors used to assess the genuineness of a relationship. By understanding the requirements, individuals can navigate the partner visa process with confidence and increase their chances of a successful application.
What does a Partner visa allow you to do in Australia?
Obtaining a partner visa opens up numerous opportunities. With a partner visa, you can live in Australia for an indefinite period, work and study, access Medicare (Australia’s healthcare system), and eventually apply for Australian citizenship if you meet the requirements.
Types of Partner Visas
There are different types of partner visas available in Australia, depending on the circumstances of the relationship. These are the “prospective marriage” visa and the “partner” visa.
A prospective marriage visa (also known as a “fiancé” visa) is for individuals who are engaged to an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen. It allows the visa holder to enter Australia and marry their partner within the validity period of the visa.
A partner visa is for individuals who are in a genuine and committed relationship with an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen. Both the applicant and their partner must be at least 18 years old, and the applicant and their dependents must meet certain health and character requirements. To obtain a partner visa, evidence must be provided to demonstrate the genuineness of the relationship. Importantly, the applicant and sponsor must be married, or prove that they have been in a de facto relationship for at least 12 months.
What is a Genuine Relationship?
A genuine relationship is the cornerstone of a successful partner visa application. The Department of Home Affairs assesses the genuineness of the relationship based on specific factors, but it is important to note that this assessment is not limited to these factors alone. Each case is unique, and the Department of Home Affairs evaluates the overall circumstances to determine the genuineness of the relationship.
The first step of proving a genuine relationship is each person describing their commitment and emotional support for their partner, along with evidence of communication, such as emails, letters, or phone records. Another significant factor in establishing a genuine relationship is evidence of joint financial commitments, such as shared bank accounts, joint ownership of property, or joint liabilities. Proof of cohabitation is often also provided, which can be demonstrated by joint leases or rental agreements, utility bills in both names, or correspondence addressed to both partners at the same address.
Parties applying for a partner visa will often also show evidence of a shared social life, such as joint invitations to family events, travel documents showing joint travel, or photographs and testimonies from friends and family. Applicants may also produce documentation showing joint future plans, such as wills, joint investments, or joint participation in long-term commitments, like purchasing property together.
If your application for a partner visa has been refused, you should read your refusal notice carefully because each decision is different. This letter should advise:
- if you have the right to appeal your decision
- the timeframe available to lodge an appeal
- the relevant body your appeal should be directed to.
If you are already in Australia, you will be granted the right to appeal the refusal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Alternatively, if your partner visa application was lodged offshore, your Australian citizen partner may be able to lodge the appeal on your behalf.
There are strict time limits when appealing to the AAT, so it is very important to read the appeal deadline in your visa refusal letter carefully. AAT appeal deadlines cannot be extended, and we recommend obtaining legal advice to assist with a proposed appeal.
A partner visa allows partners to live, work, and study in Australia. Immigration laws, however, are complex and it is important to understand the eligibility criteria and potential issues before making an application. An experienced immigration lawyer can guide you through the process to ensure your application meets the necessary conditions to give you the best possible chance of having a visa granted.
This is general information only and you should obtain professional advice relevant to your circumstances. If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on (02) 9955 6692 or email [email protected].