Australia Partner Visa – Visa in Australia – How to apply?
In my 14 years’ experience in the Australian immigration industry I have adviced hundreds of people who were looking for a visa to Australia and migration advice on Australian visa options along with a clear migration strategy to ensure a successful visa application, whether applying for the visa in Australia or outside Australia.
One of my recent clients was a British citizen who has been living and working in Thailand for about 15 years. His goal was to be granted Australian permanent residence visa as a UK citizen and long-term partner of an Australian citizen.
It is obvious that in his situation, a partner visa was the best option for him. He has been living in Thailand with his partner, an Australian citizen, for over 10 years. They got married in Thailand just over 6 months ago. After so much time spent in Thailand, the couple have decided that their goal was to move to Australia permanently before the end of year 2023.
His partner, the Australian citizen, had relatives in Brisbane, Australia. His partner’s mother lived in Brisbane, and she was happy for them to come and stay with her for a while until they found their own place.
The goal was for them to move to Australia within 12 months, for the visa applicant to be granted a spouse visa, and to live in Australia permanently. The visa applicant had a job in Thailand, but there was no scope for transferring to Australia.
This meant that he was moving to Australia unemployed and would have had to look for work as soon as he was able to do so. He was not sure if looking for work in advance of getting a visa was somehow helpful, or a waste of time.
Visa in Australia – Is it better to lodge from inside Australia or outside Australia ?
There is no black or white answer. When discussing the best migration strategy for a any Australia partner visa application, it is important for the visa applicant understands the major differences between lodging the visa in Australia or outside Australia.
In the case of my client, as a British citizen and a low risk applicant, he can either apply offshore, from Thailand, and wait in Thailand until the visa is granted, or arrive in Australia on a tourist visa and subsequently apply for Australia partner visa in Australia. The visa process is similar, but not 100% identical.
The processing time of an Australia partner visa is currently around 16 months for 75 percent of the visa applications. The Australian Department of Home Affairs has recently advised that the processing times for Australia partner visas will improve as a result of an increase in the places allocated to the family visa program.
So, if my client wants to apply right away and continue his employment in Thailand, rather than be unemployed in Australia, he can apply for the subclass 309 temporary partner visa from Thailand.
Once the temporary partner visa 309 is granted, he will have a certain amount of time (usually 12 months from the date of issue) to enter Australia. This should give him plenty of time to look for a job in Australia, find a house, organise his relocation to Australia and move to Australia already holding a partner visa.
However, if he is concerned of the Australia partner visa processing times and wants to leave Thailand soon, as a British citizen, he can enter Australia on a tourist visa such as an ETA, an eVisitor subclass 651 or a subclass 600 tourist visa.
Subsequently he can apply for Australia partner visa in Australia, namely the subclass 820 temporary partner visa. Read our article ‘Apply Australian partner visa from australian visitor visa‘ to learn more about the transition from one visa to another when applying for another visa in Australia.
Tourist visas usually allow for up to 3 months stay in Australia after each entry. So, if my client lodges the Australia partner visa in Australia, after 3 months when his tourist visa limit of stay expires, he will automatically move to a Bridging Visa A (BVA subclass 010) that allows him to remain in Australia until his Australia partner visa application is finally decided.
The bridging visa A is automatically granted to a visa applicant upon lodgement of a valid visa application in Australia, in this case an Australia partner visa application, however it doesn’t come into effect until the visa applicant’s current visa expires.
The good news for my British client is that a BVA that is granted in conjunction with an onshore partner visa application always come with full work rights, full study rights and access to Medicare, whitch he already had due to his British citizenship and Australia-UK reciprocal health care agreement.
This means that if he lodges the visa application in Australia from his tourist visa, after 3 months or as soon as his ‘3 months’ stay expire, he’ll be able to start work almost immediately (except for those first 3 months while his tourist visa is active).
Visa in Australia – Combined applications for Australian partner visa
Partner visas come in pairs, meaning that the first visa (subclass 309 for offshore applicants and subclass 820 for onshore applicants) is temporary and the second visa (subclass 100 for offshore applicants, and subclass 801 for onshore applicants) makes my British client, an Australian permanent resident.
Technically my client applies for both visas at once, the second one which it also known as the permanent partner visa is usually granted after 2 years from the date of lodgement of the partner visa application.
With a relationship as long as my client’s relationship, provided there is plenty of proof to demonstrate that the visa applicant and his sponsor have been in a genuine, committed, cohabitating relationship for over 10 years, I can specifically request the Australian Department of Home Affairs, by way of legal submission, to grant my client both visas, temporary and permanent partner visa, at the same time.
In technical language, this is called a “double grant” and the immediate result of a ‘double grant’ is the status of Australian permanent resident. There is no need anymore to wait 2 years to be assessed for the permanent partner visa.
Of course, in my client’s situation, if he decides to lodge his partner visa application in Australia, it doesn’t hurt to research in advance what is available employment-wise in Australia.
However, he must be aware that nobody can provide the exact date when his visa will be approved so he needs to ensure that he has the financial resources to cover his living costs.
I have heard many stories of people struggling to find decent work before actually being granted a visa in Australia with full work rights, as employers can be a bit cautious hiring someone who holds a non-permanent visa.
However, with the current skills shortage in Australia I would be surprised if this would be the case for my British client. It’s something to be aware of.
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