A partner visa application can be daunting, not only because of the large number of documents you need to provide, but because it has one of the highest application charges. You want to get it right first time so we thought we would share our top tips.

Know what visa you want to apply for

There are two types of partner visa:

  1. Prospective Marriage visa

This is a temporary visa for couples who intend to be married. Once the visa is granted, you must marry your partner within nine months. Once you are married, you must then apply for the temporary and permanent partner visa to continue living in Australia. The prospective marriage visa can only be applied for when you are offshore (outside Australia) and you must be offshore at the time of visa grant.

  1. Partner/Spouse (Provisional)

Partner visa applications are a two stage process where you apply for both a provisional and a permanent partner visa at the same time. Unless you can demonstrate that you have been in a relationship with your partner for more than three years, or you have children together, a provisional visa will be granted in the first instance.

Where a provisional visa is granted, you can apply for second stage assessment two years after the date you submitted your application. You can apply for a partner visa either onshore or offshore depending on your circumstances.

Make sure you satisfy the visa criteria

Before submitting an application check that you satisfy the visa criteria. For example, if you are not married and you are wanting to apply for the partner visa, you must demonstrate that you have been in a de-facto relationship with your partner for a minimum of 12 months. For a prospective marriage visa application, both you and your partner must be free to marry – not waiting for divorce.

If you submit an application and it turns out you are not eligible, you would have just wasted the cost of that visa application. You do not get the money back if your partner visa is refused and not every applicant will have review rights.

Organise your supporting documents

It is important that you collate and organise your supporting documents before submitting an application. Doing this helps you determine whether you satisfy the visa criteria.

Your documents should verify the identity of yourself and your partner. They should also show the duration and genuine nature of your relationship. It is not enough to print extracts from Facebook or Instagram or to simply provide 100 photographs. You need to show real evidence such as bank statements, tenancy agreements, and other evidence that you live together and are in a committed genuine relationship.

Some of your friends and family will have to write statements to explain how long they have known you both, and that your relationship is genuine. You and your partner will also need to provide police clearances.

We understand it may be uncomfortable to give this level of detailed information about your relationship to strangers, but giving as much of the information as possible really will help your case.

Respond promptly to any requests from the Department of Home Affairs

The Department may write to you requesting additional information to support your application. If you receive such a request be sure to respond within the timeframe specified – typically 28 days. Failure to respond can result in your application being refused.

If the Department's request will take some time for you to respond to, you should send them an email within the timeframe given explaining when you will be able to provide the information they need and request an extension of time.

Be prepared for any challenges your application may encounter

If you have anything in your application that may cause immigration to refuse your application, be prepared with strong and sufficient arguments for why your application should be approved. For example, if you have a criminal conviction in your home country, you should be prepared to provide solid evidence as to why you will never behave unlawfully again.

Be honest

The most important tip we can give you is to be honest. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Check every detail of your application form is correct and free from typos and errors before you submit your application. Printing the application form before submitting is a useful way to proof read it to ensure it is free from errors.

Know when you need help

Depending on your situation a partner visa application can be straight forward or it can be a little trickier. If you feel your application is not going to be straight forward, or you don't have the time and energy to prepare the application yourself, we recommend you get advice and/or assistance from a Registered Migration Agent.

A Registered Migration Agent will look after the entire visa process for you which includes, identifying the correct visa for your situation, assisting with the preparation of visa application forms, collating your supporting documents and submitting your application with the Department.

Some Registered Migration Agents offer a visa checking service which is a useful tool for those applicants wishing to apply themselves. The visa checking service enables you to obtain feedback and advice about your application before you submit it. A Registered Migration Agent can identify gaps in your evidence or challenges you may face and explain how to overcome them.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.