Australian Offshore Partner Visa News During COVID-19

Australia’s strict border restrictions have prevented many people from entering Australia and spending quality time with their partner. Technically, spouses and de facto partners of Australian citizens and permanent residents are exempt from the border restrictions, but in reality this is often difficult to prove. So what options are there for couples that want to be reunited in Australia?

Whilst travel exemption requests are often rejected by the Department of Home Affairs, they are actually prioritising partner visa applications at the present time. Often the relationship evidence that was used in an exemption request can be used again in an offshore partner visa application with a successful outcome. The benefit of having a partner visa is that the holder is automatically exempt from the border restrictions.

How to Prove a Spousal or De Facto Relationship in Australia

A partner visa requires the applicant and sponsor to either be married or in a de facto relationship. It’s possible to obtain an offshore partner visa under any of the following situations:

Registering the Relationship and Applying on De Facto Grounds

The standard de facto requirement requires the applicant and sponsor to have lived together for at least 12 months. However, it is possible to register a relationship in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, ACT, Tasmania and South Australia and avoid the 12 month cohabitation requirement. In Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, ACT and South Australia only one person needs to reside in the state of registration. This means that a sponsor can register the relationship while the applicant is living overseas. The applicant can then apply for a partner visa on de facto grounds. This is not an option for sponsors living in Tasmania as the Tasmanian Government requires both persons to reside in Tasmania.

PROXY OR Online MARRIAGE and Applying on Spousal Grounds

Under Australian law consent to marriage must be given by both parties in person. However, migration policy permits marriage by proxy or an online marriage. The important thing is that the marriage is legally recognised in the country in which the marriage is solemnised. In this COVID-19 environment Zoom weddings are becoming increasingly popular and the good news is that this type of wedding is accepted for the purposes of a partner visa application. Services such as The Wedding People based in Utah, United States provide this type of service at a reasonable price.

Converting a Prospective Marriage Visa Application to a Partner Visa Application

It’s unfortunate that the Department of Home Affairs does not automatically consider subclass 300 prospective marriage visa holders as exempt from border restrictions, even though the prospective marriage visa application fee is the same as the partner visa application fee. However, anyone who has a pending prospective marriage visa application can get married (either in person, by proxy or online) and have their application reconsidered as an offshore subclass 309/100 partner visa application. There is no additional application fee required, the key thing is to get married before the prospective marriage visa application is finalised.

What Evidence Do I Need to Show for a Partner Visa?

All of the above options require the applicant and sponsor to provide evidence of their relationship, including:

  • The financial aspects of the relationship

  • The nature of the household

  • The social aspects of the relationship

  • The nature of the commitment

We can help you apply for a partner visa. If you are interested in exploring your options  and you haven’t lodged a visa application yet please book a free consultation.

About the author

Nick Hansen

Nick has been a Registered Migration Agent since 2016 when he founded Hansen Migration. Since then he has helped many migrants obtain permanent residency in Australia and Australian citizenship.

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