820 Visa & 801 Visa: Partner Visa Onshore (Subclass 820 & 801)

If you are in Australia and you want to stay here with your Australian citizen partner or an Australian permanent resident, you’ll need to apply for the 820 visa and then the 801 PR visa later. This is a two-part application, so having a Registered Migration Agent ensures that you are organised and up-to-date with application deadlines for both parts.

It is a temporary-to-permanent visa. Two years after lodging the initial application, you must provide Immigration with further evidence of your ongoing relationship in order to obtain Australian permanent residency.

Couple holding hands on a street

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820/801 visa process

The 820 visa and 801 visa process involves two steps. It is designed to take you from temporary residency to permanent residency.

In most cases, the 820 visa is granted first and the 801 part around 24 months later. You pay a single Government application charge at the start to cover both parts.

You can stay in Australia on your subclass 820 visa until your permanent 801 visa is granted. Once you hold an 801 visa, you’re a permanent resident. You may be eligible to apply for citizenship in due course.

On the subclass 820 visa, you can:

  • Work in Australia
  • Study in Australia (but not with Government support)
  • Leave and re-enter as many times as you wish
  • Avail of free English classes.

Showing evidence of your genuine and ongoing relationship

You must be living together when your 820 visa is lodged. Any family members you include in the application must also be in Australia at time of lodgement. You can include children living overseas as non-migrating dependents and add them to your application at a later date. You need to be in Australia when a decision is made on the first (820) part. However, you don’t need to be in Australia when the second (801) part is decided.

If you’re outside of Australia, there are other visas such as the prospective marriage visa (subclass 300) or offshore partner visa (subclass 309 and 100). These may be more suitable.

Evidencing the nature of your relationship

For the 820/801, you need to show evidence of your shared life. This includes your financial commitment to one another, shared living arrangements and social recognition of your relationship. We can help you put this evidence together to help you demonstrate your commitment to each other and run through everything you need to know before lodging a partner visa. We can also assist with the preparation of your partner visa relationship statement. It is an important document explaining the nature of your relationship.

Not only do you need to gather evidence before lodging an application, you need to continue submitting evidence as your application processes. You must prove that your relationship is ongoing. As part of the application process, you may be interviewed by a case officer, either over the phone or face-to-face. During this interview, you may be asked to answer questions about the nature of your relationship.

Generally, you must be able to show 12 months of cohabitation evidence. However, depending on where you live, you may be able to register your relationship and waive this requirement. More information on that below.

The 12-month cohabitation requirement is also part of the criteria if a partner or spouse is being included in other applications such as student visas and skilled migration visas.

A permanent residency partner visa straight away

If you have been living with your partner for quite some time – the three years immediately prior to lodging your application – or you have a child together and have lived together for the previous two years, you can apply for the 801 partner visa straight away.

820 Visa duration

The partner visa (subclass 820) lasts until your PR part of your visa (subclass 801) is granted. Once you’re an Australian permanent resident, you can stay in the country indefinitely or apply for citizenship once you’re eligible.

Including family members on an 820/801 visa

Your applicant’s children and step-children can be included in the application. They’ll be subject to the same visa conditions and have the same rights as you (the parent being sponsored). You will need to have sole custody or legal permission from the children’s other biological parent for them to be included in the application.

Medicare rights

You’ll be able to enrol in the Medicare system as soon as the visa application has been lodged.

Work rights

Bridging Visa A

When your onshore partner visa is lodged, an associated Bridging Visa A (BVA) is issued. This BVA only comes into effect at the end of your current visa. For example, if you hold a visitor visa with a three month stay limitation, your BVA would come into effect at the end of your three month stay. In this case, you would have full work rights on your BVA during the partner visa processing time.

If you hold a Working Holiday 417 visa or a Work and Holiday 462 visa, you can request a waiver of the six month work limitation – but only once you have lodged your partner visa. A Registered Migration Agent can submit a work rights waiver on your behalf.

Bridging Visa E

If you hold a visa that expires well into the future (such as 2021), your BVA only comes into effect when your visa expires. Lodging a partner does NOT ‘override’ your current visa. This means you must continue to meet the conditions of your current visa (such as continuing to work for your sponsor or paying for and attending classes on your student visa). This situation generally applies to holders of a 457 visa, a 407 visa, a 408 visa, a 482 visa or a 500 visa.

In fact, if you do not continue to meet the requirements of your current visa, it will be cancelled and you will need to apply for a Bridging Visa E (BVE). A BVE does not have work rights.

If you hold a BVE and wish to work, you’ll need to draft a submission outlining the financial hardship you and your partner will face if you are unable to work during the partner visa processing time.

Work rights are not guaranteed as it depends on your shared financial situation. If you depart Australia, you will forfeit your partner visa application, as it is a requirement that you be in Australia when the visa is decided. Holding a BVE does not impact on partner visa eligibility but it resets your citizenship clock to zero.

Australian partner visa sponsor approval

The Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill is due to be introduced.

It will require your Australian partner to be approved as a sponsor before your partner visa application can be lodged. As this is a new step in partner applications, the processing time of sponsorship approval is not known.

If it takes weeks or months for your Australian partner to be approved and your visa expires in the meantime, you will need to either depart Australia or lodge another visa to remain lawful.

As of yet (November 2020), we do not know when this new framework will be applied to partner visa applications.

Time of Application

Partner visas must meet what is known as ‘time of application’ (TOA) criteria. The evidence you submit as part of your application must demonstrate that you were in a committed relationship at the time of lodgement. Partner visas can take a long time to process. Your application can be updated with further information to demonstrate that you are still together; however, this does not cancel out TOA requirements.

Your partner visa should not be lodged prematurely. If you’re unsure of your eligibility, a Registered Migration Agent can check for you.

Can I register my relationship?

The registration process is different in each State and not all States allow couples to register their relationship. Even if you can register your relationship, you must be living together when your partner visa application is made. To register a relationship, both partners should be over the age of 18. You should not be married or in a de facto relationship with anyone else and not be related. Same sex partners can register relationships in all States where relationship registration is allowed. You can apply for relationship registration after lodging your partner visa as it is a time of decision requirement.

NSW relationship registration

To register in New South Wales, you’ll need to show that one of you has lived in NSW for a short period of time. You’ll need to show specific forms of identification and proof of residence. Registering your relationship in NSW is crucial if you have not lived together for 12 months prior to lodging the application.

QLD relationship registration

Queensland registration requires you to demonstrate that at least one of you has lived in Queensland for a short period of time. You will need to include proof of ID and of living in QLD. You must register your relationship in Queensland to bypass the requirement of living together for the 12 months immediately before visa lodgement.

Victoria relationship registration

To register your relationship in Victoria, you’ll need to show that one of you has lived in Victoria for a short period. Victorian relationship registration is a must if you have not lived together for the past 12 months. You’ll need to show proof of residency, such as utility account or superannuation statements.

ACT relationship registration

Relationship registration in the Australian Capital Territory requires one of you to show two pieces of evidence of residence in the ACT. An ACT relationship registration allows you to apply for an 820 partner visa before the 12 month mark.

South Australia relationship registration

To register in South Australia, you’ll need to show that one of you has been usually resident in South Australia for a short period. This relationship registration allows you to lodge an 820 partner visa even if you have not lived together for the full 12 months.

Tasmania relationship registration

Tasmanian couples need to show that both people are living in Tasmania.  Registering your relationship in Tasmania is essential for couples who have not lived together for 12 months prior to lodging their partner visa application.

WA and NT relationship registration

Unfortunately, relationship registration is not available for migration purposes in Western Australia or the Northern Territory.

We can provide detailed information on relationship registration requirements as part of our partner visa assessment process.

Partner visa applications and Covid-19

The Department of Home Affairs is still processing visas ‘within the constraints’ of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is likely they are using resources to focus on onshore visas, due to overseas travel restrictions. As such, we don’t expect to see major delays for 820/801 applications.

As of December 2020, processing for 820s currently stands at 21 – 28 months. This is why many couples engage a Registered Migration Agent to manage their application. A refusal would mean a lengthy wait whilst an appeal or new application is lodged.

Partner visa changes (2020-21 budget)

In the 2020-21 budget, the Government allocated 77,300 family visa places. A number of planned changes were also announced. As of December 2020, no implementation date has been set, but changes are set to include:

  • New English language requirements for partners and sponsors
  • Sponsor approval prior to application
  • Character check on sponsor

Contact us today for further advice. Our team can assess your options and recommend the best visa pathway for you.

Am I eligible for an 820/801 onshore partner visa?

You may be eligible if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your partner is an Australian citizen, permanent resident or an eligible New Zealander, and is not limited by previous partner sponsorship.
  • You hold a valid visa (without the “8503 – NO FURTHER STAY” condition) and you are in Australia at the time of application.
  • You are married, you can show solid evidence of living together for 12 months prior to application, or you have registered your relationship (certain states of Australia). Relationship registration waives the 12-month cohabitation requirement. You cannot register your relationship if married to someone else (even if separated for a long time).
  • You meet health and character requirements
  • Your partnership is recognised under Australian law
  • You and your family members have paid any debts you owe to the Australian Government
  • The application is in the best interests of any children included in the application

Stage two eligibility

  • You need to hold an 820 visa
  • Be in an ongoing relationship still, unless you meet certain special conditions
  • Have complied with Australian laws
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