Have you applied for a partner visa or a prospective marriage visa and wonder why your application is taking so long? Unfortunately, you are not alone. At the end of the 2018 financial year a backlog of over 80,000 applications had built up and there doesn't appear to have been any improvement since then.
Why is the partner visa queue so long?
According to the Migration Act there is no limit to the number of partner visas that can be granted within each financial year. Nevertheless, the Australian Government has ignored the Act and only allocated 39799 partner visa places for the 2019/2020 financial year, which is the same as the allocation for the current financial year. A change of Government in the pending election may see the allocation increased to help clear the backlog, one can only hope.
According to the Department of Home Affairs website the current processing times are as follows:
What can I do to reduce the processing time of my application?
At Hansen Migration we have seen many partner and prospective marriage visas granted in under 12 months, so what's the secret? Submitting a complete application. Every applicant requires evidence of identity, evidence of character and evidence of relationship (financial aspects, nature of household, social aspects and nature of commitment). Whilst it's not a requirement to submit all documents at the time of application it's certainly best practice to do so, this includes police clearances and health assessments. Just be mindful that police clearances and health assessments are only valid for 12 months, so if your application happens to take longer than 12 months to be processed you may need to submit them again. This can be a costly exercise given that a health assessment is approximately $350 and police clearances can be anywhere from $20 to $100 (depending on the country). The Department will give you the opportunity to provide any missing documents, so we suggest submitting everything except for the health assessment and then waiting for the Department to request it. Unless of course you're willing to risk $350 on potentially doing another health assessment.
If I have health or character issues will my application take longer?
Definitely, we find that applications with health or character issues can take an extra 9 to 12 months to be processed when compared to similar applications without such issues.
Onshore vs Offshore?
Offshore partner visa applications tend to be processed quicker than onshore partner visa applications. However, onshore applicants have the added benefit of being able to remain in Australia on a bridging visa whilst awaiting the outcome of their application. Onshore applicants are also eligible for Medicare once their partner visa application has been lodged, and also have work rights once their bridging visa comes into effect.
Is it possible to apply for priority processing of my application?
Yes, but there must be very special circumstances and evidence must be presented. An example of a case that we recently had processed as a priority was an applicant who faced the threat of physical violence in their home country due to their sexuality. We were able to have the application processed as a priority and they are now living safely in Australia with their partner.
Who can I turn to for help with my application?
At Hansen Migration we specialise in family and partner visas, so we're very familiar with the application process and how to deal with the Department. Feel free to complete our free online assessment and arrange a free consultation.