Things you NEED to Know Before Applying for a Partner Visa – Part 1

Partner visas are expensive. One small mistake can cost you several thousand dollars, not to mention years of heartache as you either appeal or repeat the process over again.

In this blog series, we’ll be running you through some of the most important things to keep in mind when applying for an Australian partner visa.

We’ve been in business since 2006 and lodged thousands of successful applications. In that time, we’ve seen just about everything, encountered every issue you can imagine, and helped some incredibly complex cases get over the line.

Whether you use an agent to manage your application or not, there are some key things you should be aware of.

In Part 1, we’ll look at:

  • Bridging visa basics
  • Applying for a visa if you’ve been here unlawfully
  • Whether living with your parents or in a share house is an issue
  • Relationships under 12 months

In Part 2, we’ll delve into writing relationship statements, Medicare and avoiding refusals, but first, let’s get started with this.

Can I apply for a partner visa if I’ve overstayed a visa?

Obviously it’s preferable that you don’t overstay your current visa and become unlawful. However, it can and does happen; emergency situations crop up, people fall ill and, yes, sometimes people simply forget when their visa expires and accidentally end up overstaying.

If you have overstayed your visa you can apply for a valid partner visa. The main problem is that you’re unlikely to meet ‘Schedule 3’ requirements and you’ll need a good reason to request a waiver.

Under Australian migration law, if you don’t hold a substantive visa at the time you make your application, you’ll need to satisfy additional Schedule 3 requirements. This is in addition to meeting the standard criteria associated with the visa you’re applying for.

Applications that require Schedule 3 criteria assessment are typically picked up much more quickly and the 888 forms required as part of the application must be attached at the time of lodgement and be no older than 6 weeks. An 888 form is the Statutory Declaration required as part of a partner of prospective marriage visa application form. It is compulsory to attach at least two of these.

Generally, you’ll need to show that compassionate and compelling reasons exist to allow you to proceed with your partner application onshore, rather than leave and apply from overseas. For example, having biological children with your Australian partner is solid grounds for a waiver. However, being pregnant often won’t satisfy the criteria.

Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules here; everything is decided on a case-by-case basis.

We had a client that overstayed his 417 visa by 7 years and he still managed to obtain the 820 and 801 visa. It really does depend on your individual circumstances.

If you lodge a partner application and you don’t hold a substantive visa, you will be issued a BVC, so you won’t be able to depart Australia

Can I apply for a partner visa when living with parents?

Housing is expensive in Australia and not all couples can afford to get their own place. This shouldn’t be – and indeed isn’t – a barrier to applying for a partner visa.

You can apply for a partner visa if you live with your parents.

Many of our clients are living with their parents, and their partners, whilst they save for deposits. It’s not an unusual situation to be in.

Since you probably won’t be on the utility bills or have a formal lease agreement in place, you will need to pop your thinking cap on to prove you live at the same address.

As the “Household Evidence” category is heavily scrutinised, you and your partner will need to provide evidence that you were both resident at the same address at the same time.

Documentation to help you show this includes:

  • Car insurance papers
  • Driving licences showing address
  • ATO returns
  • Payslips
  • Super statements
  • Doctor scripts
  • Dental receipts
  • Gym memberships
  • Online order receipts

We have a list of over 100 suggestions to help you build your evidence up to the required standard.

It would be great if your in-laws can provide a letter of support stating how long you have lived there and what you contribute weekly whether its rent or housework, gardening.

The applicant and the sponsor need to have an equal amount of evidence; proof of address can’t be one-sided.

Any joint documents you have will add even more weight to the application.

Joint documents might include:

  • Joint bank account statements
  • Joint tennis club / gym memberships
  • Listing each other as superannuation beneficiaries
  • Listing each other as second drivers on your respective car insurance policies
  • Joint Dan Murphy cards

From the moment you start living together: collect, collect, collect!

Can I apply for a partner visa when living in a share house?

As above, provided you provide a paper trail of evidence, it’s perfectly fine to sub-let a room in a shared house.

A letter from the landlord or the leaseholder can be highly beneficial, stating you share a room and contribute to paying the utility bills.

Can I apply if we haven’t been together for 12 months?

If you live in VIC, NSW, QLD, TAS, ACT, or SA, you do not need to be living together for 12 months to apply for the partner visa.

At the time of applying you must be living together and meet partner visa requirements under the four core areas of: social, financial, household and commitment.

If you live in one of the above states or territories, and you are not currently married to anyone else, then you can register your relationship to avoid meeting the 12-month cohabitation requirement.

The relationship registration is a time of decision requirement.

If your visa is going to expiry shortly then you can validly lodge an 820 visa and add the relationship registration certificate in afterwards.

Make no mistake: your application will still need to be genuine and ongoing. You’ll need to upload fresh evidence to the application regularly over the course of the processing time, with up-to-date evidence of cohabitation at the same address

You also need to ensure you let the case officer know you are (or will be) registering your relationship so they know to assess you under this regulation

Bridging visa A – conditions 

Most people will be granted a bridging visa A (BVA). We get a lot of questions regarding the conditions associated with BVAs. It’s understandable that if you’ve just spent a small fortune applying for a partner visa, you don’t want to accidentally breach any of your bridging visa conditions.

The type of visa you apply for will determine whether your current visa conditions carry over to the new visa. With most applications, this is how it works; however, with partner visas – 100% of the time – you’ll have no conditions attached to your BVA.

This means that when your BVA takes effect, you can work full-time, part-time, be self-employed, study; do what you like. It doesn’t matter whether you applied from a tourist visa, student visa, working holiday visa or 457 visa etc.

The Department is aware of the lengthy processing time for partner visas, which is the reason they don’t include conditions, in most cases. This makes it easy for the applicant to work, assimilate into the community, and contribute to the household.

Please note the BVA will only take effect when your current visa expires.

Bridging visa B – conditions

The bridging visa A doesn’t come with travel rights. If you wish to leave Australia while you hold the BVA, you will need to apply for permission through a bridging visa B (BVB).

The BVB is typically issued for the duration you select i.e. the length of the trip. If you have multiple trips planned, or travel frequently for work, you can apply for a longer BVB. They can range from 3 months, to 6 months, and even up to a year.

It also important to note that although you can obtain a long BVB, you must remain living with your partner. If your partner joins you overseas, great, but if you’re apart, keep a paper trail of correspondence to show you remained in contact and committed to each other.

If you leave Australia without getting a BVB granted you will need to apply for a tourist visa to return and have your BVA reinstated on return. This isn’t wise if you need to work as the tourist visa has no work rights and you’ll have to wait for the BVA.

However, if you do get caught out; for example, you’re overseas and your BVB expires, or you never got one when you left, you can request that your tourist visa only be valid for a short time, such as two weeks. This will allow you to quickly reinstate the BVA and get back to work.

You’ll pay a fee each time you apply for a BVB, so bear that in mind. If your partner visa is processing for two years, and you’re a bit of a jet-setter, these BVBs can quickly add up.

Look out for Part 2 coming soon. In the meantime, if you’d like to speak with a Registered Migration Agent, get in touch for a free assessment.

Get in touch now to find out how we can help you contact us