*UPDATE – Same-Sex Marriage Visas*
We are absolutely delighted to report that Australia’s same-sex marriage bill recently passed the House of Representatives. This means that same-sex couples in Australia can now legally wed. We’re expecting to see ceremonies commence from January.
This is obviously fantastic news for same-sex couples wanting to apply for spouse visas and prospective marriage visas in Australia.
Here at True Blue Migration, we’re regularly asked about Australian partner visa options for same-sex couples.
We’ve put this blog together which hopefully answers some of the most frequently asked questions.
Same-sex partner visas
Prior to 2009, anyone wanting to live in Australia with a same-sex partner would have applied for an interdependency visa. However, the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – General Law Reform) Act 2008 marked the end of that particular visa subclass.
This legislation change was designed to ensure there is no discrimination between same-sex de facto relationships and heterosexual de facto relationships in migration law.
People in same-sex relationships are now entitled to apply for a partner visa, there is no longer a separate visa type.
In order to apply for a partner visa, you must generally meet the criteria set out by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, this includes:
- Be in a de facto relationship with your partner for the 12 months prior to applying or have registered your relationship (more info on this later)
- Be over the age of 18
- Meet health and character requirements
- Demonstrate that your relationship is genuine and ongoing
- Show evidence of joint finances
- Show evidence of your relationship in a ‘social context’
- Demonstrate that you remained committed to each other even during periods of separation (if applicable)
Unfortunately, same-sex marriage and civil unions are not recognised in Australia. You will need to meet the Government’s requirements here, regardless of the status of your relationship back home.
Exceptions to the one year rule
There are some exceptions to the 12-month de facto requirement. As we mentioned briefly, depending on where you’re based, it may be possible to formally register your relationship. The rules regarding relationship registrations vary between the states and territories. Relationship registration is not available in every state. Your Migration Agent can advise if this is an option for you.
Applicants may also be able to demonstrate ‘compelling and compassionate circumstances’ whereby the 12-month rule may be waived. For example, if you and your partner share guardianship of a child. Or if the laws in your home country prohibit de facto relationships and it was not possible to live together prior to applying. These situations are assessed on a case by case basis.
Obviously, things are much more straight-forward if you meet the full 12-month requirement.
In most cases, Australian partner visas are completed in two stages. A provisional partner visa is granted first. This will be an 820 visa if the applicant is onshore or a 309 visa if you apply from outside Australia.
In some cases, you might be able to apply for the 801 visa straight away. For example, if you’ve lived together for a long period of time or have a child together. Our Registered Migration Agents can provide an assessment based on our individual case.
820 visa to PR
If you’re on an eligible visitor visa when your 820 application is lodged then you’ll move on to a Bridging Visa A after the visitor visa has expired, or when you’ve spent your ‘three month stay’ whilst on your visitor visa. You will have full work rights whilst the visa is being processed.
If you need to travel during this period, you can apply for a Bridging Visa B.
Once 24 months has passed since your first application, you may be eligible to apply for a permanent 801 visa. Obviously, this is provided that the relationship is still ongoing!
There is a common misconception regarding the 24-month waiting period. Many people mistakenly believe they must wait two years AFTER their initial temporary visa has been granted before they can proceed with the second part of their application. Luckily, this is not the case. The subsequent application can be lodged 24 months after the first application was lodged, not 24 months after it was granted. This can significantly speed up the road to PR!
Remember though, if your relationship breaks down whilst you’re on an 820 visa, you are required to immediately inform immigration.
309 visa to PR
If you hold a temporary 309 visa (the offshore option), you’ll be able to apply for a subclass 100 visa 24 months after lodging your initial application. As with the 801 visa, the 100 visa grants the applicant permanent residency in Australia.
The same rules regarding the 24-month waiting period apply.
In a nutshell
Partner visas are complex and costly. Australian partner visa application fees increased significantly last year, which means that it’s never been more important to submit a watertight application.
Unfortunately, the cost of partner visas has been rising steadily for the last five years and things aren’t likely to change any time soon. The best thing to do in this situation is to do it once and get it right first time.
Here at True Blue Migration, we offer a no visa, no fee guarantee on partner visa applications. This means that in the very unlikely event of your application not being granted, we will refund the professional fee paid to us.
Processing times for partner visas vary, but generally we find that most applications are approved within 12 to 15 months from lodgement.
To arrange a free consultation with a Registered Migration Agent, call (WA) 08 6189 5333 (VIC) 03 9038 9070 or click here.