If you intend to marry an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen, and you are both aged 18 years or older, you might like to consider applying for a Prospective Marriage subclass 300 visa.
This is a temporary residence visa which allows you to enter Australia to marry your partner within the 9-month visa period. A prospective marriage visa application is to be lodged offshore and has a current average processing time of approximately 12-17 months.
A prospective marriage visa provides a pathway to permanent residence as it is intended that once you are in Australia and you have married your partner, that you will apply for a Partner subclass 820/801 visa onshore within the 9-month visa period.
A partner visa involves applying for a combined temporary and permanent visa. Immigration will first assess whether you qualify for the subclass 820 temporary partner visa. Then two years following lodgement of your partner visa application, you will be assessed for the permanent Partner subclass 801 visa. You can remain in Australia throughout the processing period for the partner visa.
Be aware that taking this pathway can involve a significant amount of time, given that it consists of 3 applications, namely:
Based on current average processing times, you can expect the entire process to take over 5 years. But the benefit of taking this pathway is that subject to meeting all the prescribed requirements at each stage of the application process, you will ultimately become a permanent resident of Australia.
Additionally, following grant of the prospective marriage visa, you can enter and remain in Australia until a decision is made on your permanent residence subclass 801 partner visa application (provided you lodge this application as intended), during which time you can work, study and travel to and from Australia on an unlimited basis. You will also be entitled to access Medicare benefits under Australia’s public health system upon grant of the Partner subclass 820 visa.
It is important to note that major changes to the sponsorship application and approval process for the purposes of the prospective marriage and partner visa applications are expected to commence at any time, having recently been passed by the Australian Parliament.
As a result of these changes, approval of the sponsorship application will be required before the prospective marriage and partner visa applications can be lodged (whereas under the current process, sponsorship and visa applications can be approved at the same time).
How long this will take is not yet known and it is also likely to add more complexity to an already quite complicated application. Having the right information and advice is critical to maximising your chances of achieving a successful result.
We therefore highly recommend that you speak with a migration professional to assist you through this process.
What is a NOIM?
All persons seeking to marry in Australia must lodge a NOIM with the marriage celebrant who will be conducting the ceremony. It must be lodged in the 1-18-month period before the proposed date of the ceremony.
You are not required to provide the NOIM itself with your visa application, but rather, a confirmation that one has been lodged with the marriage celebrant (which is to be included in the marriage celebrant’s letter, as noted above). The Department can, however, request that you provide a certified copy of the NOIM.
When must the marriage take place?
You and your fiancé must intend to marry within the 9-month visa period. The letter from your marriage celebrant must specify either the date, or date range, when your marriage ceremony is to take place.
If, following grant of the prospective marriage visa, you are unable to marry within the 9-month visa period as intended, there is no provision for you to be granted a further prospective marriage visa onshore.
In such a case, you would need to re-apply for the subclass 300 visa offshore, or apply for another visa subclass, depending on your circumstances at that time.
Do you have to marry in Australia?
There is no requirement that you marry your fiancé in Australia. If you wish to marry overseas, you can do so, but you must ensure that you enter Australia within the 9-month visa period. You can then depart to marry your fiancé offshore. Thereafter, you must re-enter Australia within the 9-month visa period so that you can apply for the onshore subclass 820/801 partner visa.
If you do not marry your fiancé within the visa period, you will be in breach of visa condition 8519. Failing to enter Australia by the date specified in your subclass 300 visa grant letter (which will normally be the earlier of the date of your intended marriage, or the validity period of your health and character clearances) will also constitute a breach of your visa conditions.
What happens if you marry your fiancé after you have lodged your prospective marriage visa application, but before a decision is made?
You will no longer qualify for grant of a prospective marriage visa. In this case, you must notify the Department, in writing, of your marriage and that you wish to withdraw your subclass 300 visa application.
Provided your marriage is valid under Australian law, you will be taken to have instead applied for the offshore partner subclass 309/100 visa. You will also be deemed to have already paid the 1st instalment of the visa application lodgement fee for the partner visa.
For up to date advice on the prospective marriage and partner visa application process and eligibility requirements, book your confidential consultation with a registered migration agent at email@example.com