9 Mar 2021

Partner Visas in the COVID-19 Era | What you should know

Since international travel restrictions began, it has become more difficult for visa applicants to satisfy their visa requirements – particularly the Offshore Visa Grant Requirement. 

This requires many applicants that applied for their visa offshore to also be overseas at the time of their visa grant. 

Thankfully, from 27 February 2021 a temporary concession applied which may allow the below Partner and Child Visa applicants in Australia to have their visa granted without having to leave the country (conditions apply). 

-309 Partner Visa and 300 Prospective Marriage Partner Visa

-101 Child Visa, 102 Adoption Visa and 445 Dependent Child Visa applicants

The temporary concession also applied from 24 March 2021 for the below Parent Visa applicants in Australia

-173 Contributory Parent Visa, 143 Contributory Parent Visa and the 103 Parent Visa

Read on to find out more about this change – particularly for Partner Visa applicants – plus our summary of what you should know about applying for Partner Visas in the COVID-19 Era. 

Offshore 309/100 and 300 Partner Visa Applicants

Australia’s international travel restrictions have impacted Onshore and Offshore Visa applicants in different ways. 

Usually, those who apply for a Partner Visa offshore must be outside Australia at the time the Partner Visa is lodged and granted (ie, the Offshore Visa Grant Requirement). 

As you can see above, Offshore Partner Visa applicants are usually separated from their loved one for a long period before the Temporary Partner Visa is granted. 

In the past, many Offshore Partner Visa applicants would have:

-Applied for other Temporary Visas to see their loved one in Australia while waiting for their Temporary Partner Visa to be granted.

-Planned to travel out of Australia to meet the Offshore Visa Grant requirement.

However, due to the pandemic, many Offshore Partner Visa applicants may currently be in Australia facing difficulties in travelling out of the country. 

The temporary concession will mean these Partner Visa applicants already in the country may be able to have their visa granted without leaving Australia. 

Once approved, they will also no longer have to apply for new Temporary Visas to extend their stay, which can be stressful and expensive.

A further temporary concession also applies to Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage Visa applicants whose visa is granted from 27 February 2021

These visa holders may be eligible for a visa grant period of up to 15 months (increased from 9 months) at the discretion of the Department.

Onshore 820/801 Partner Visa Applicants

Fortunately, those who apply for a Partner Visa Onshore are usually unaffected by the travel restrictions because their visa requirements do not require travel out of Australia. 

They can remain in Australia from the time of applying for the Partner Visa to the time it is granted. Here’s an example of the Onshore Partner Visa journey. 

Partner Visas in the COVID-19 Era 

If you are wanting to apply for a Partner Visa, it is still possible to do so during the pandemic. Here’s what you should know: 

The Government is focused on processing Partner Visas – particularly for applicants already in Australia who apply onshore.

The Government processing time is currently 23 to 28 months for an Onshore 820 Partner Visa. The applicant can stay in Australia while it is being decided. 

The below graph shows the impact of the pandemic on Onshore 820 Partner Visa grants from 1 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020.

For partners overseas – it is also still possible to apply for a Partner Visa. The Government processing time is currently 18 to 22 months for 309 Offshore Partner Visas. Once granted, Subclass 309 Partner Visa holders can come to Australia without requesting for a Travel Exemption. 

The below graph shows the impact of the pandemic on Offshore 309 Partner Visa grants from 1 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020.

In addition, more placements are available for Partner Visas – placements increased to 72,300 people this year, which is the bulk of the 77,300 placements in the Family Stream

Our migration agents have noticed an increase in Department ‘Requests for Further Information’ for Partner Visa applications. This indicates the Government is committed to filling the placements. 

The Government have also informed the Migration Institute of Australia that more resources are being dedicated to processing Partner Visas while other visa options are not possible for travel at this time.

A Temporary Concession has also been implemented to allow sponsors of Offshore 309 Partner Visa applicants to appeal a visa refusal decision – conditions apply. 

Immigracious | Migration Connections Made Simple

We hope this was helpful. You may also be interested in our other Australian immigration insights:

New Travel Rules to Come to Australia
Australia Travel Declarations | What To Do Before Travelling
Update on Travel Exemptions and Priority Skills List
Critical Skills and Compassionate Travel Exemptions in the COVID-19 Era

As always, we are here to support you. If you have any queries about your visa circumstances or options, get in touch with our Registered Migration Agents.

Sheila Woods

Posted by: Sheila Woods

A very experienced migration agent, Sheila has always been fascinated by this field. Her university degree thesis was on Australia’s post-war immigration history (and it earned her first-class honours).

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