Partner visas drop to lowest level in 10 years

Couple holding hands in the shape of a heart

In 2017-18, 39,799 visas in the Partner category were granted. This was a drop of almost 17% from the previous year’s figure of 47,825. Although the demand for partner visas fell by a little over 5%, there were still over 80,000 pending applications as at 30 June 2018. We outline what this means for people who are looking to apply for a partner or prospective marriage visa.

Crunching the numbers

In recently published figures by the Department of Home Affairs, there are worrying signs for those who are looking to be sponsored by their spouse, de facto partner or fiancé to Australia. For the first time since 2007-08, the number of visas granted in the Partner category (spouse/partner/prospective marriage) fell to less than 40,000 in the 2017-18 financial year. This is a drop of almost 17% from a peak of 47,825 partner visas granted annually in three consecutive years from 2014-15 to 2016-17.

The fall in the number of visas granted is normally associated with a drop in demand. However the number of partner visa applications in 2017-18 remained strong at 54,037, down only 5.4% from 2016-17. The number of pending applications as at 30 June 2018, increased by only approximately 1,500 compared to 30 June 2017. Therefore, the drop in demand did not account for the staggering fall in the number of partner visas granted last year.

So what was the reason?

These figures point to only one conclusion; there was an increase in the number of partner visas refused by the Department of Home Affairs in 2017-18. This will be a cause for concern, not only for the roughly 80,000 applicants awaiting the outcome of their partner and prospective marriage visas, but also for applicants and sponsors looking to lodge a visa application in the near future.

It’s possible that the Department of Home Affairs is taking a stricter approach in assessing partner visa applications. This is consistent with their overall tightening up of immigration pathways. The Department has also indicated that it is considering introducing a two step process for partner visas. The first step would involve a sponsorship approval process, where the Australian citizen or permanent resident would need to be approved as a sponsor before their spouse or partner can apply for a partner visa. The Department has also raised the visa application charge for Partner Visas to a record high of $7,160. This charge is roughly double the amount it was only several years ago. The way things are going, it looks like it’s going to be more difficult for those applying for a partner visa.

What should partner visa applicants and their sponsors do?

At this stage, the Department has not yet introduced the sponsorship approval process. Time will tell if they even go ahead with this, as it will be an operational headache for both applicants and the Department’s case officers. This would only lead to further delays in processing times. There is not much applicants and sponsors can do about the increasing Department fees either.

To give yourself the best chance of avoiding a refusal or delays in the processing of your partner visa application, it’s ideal to ensure that a strong and accurate application is lodged. This means that all supporting documents are authentic, consistent and relevant to your application, the answers you provide on the application forms are correct and precise, and all other requirements are met. You can give yourself the best chance of success by engaging the services of a Registered Migration Agent (RMA). An RMA will be able to provide you with the right immigration advice and guidance, as well as manage and lodge your partner visa application on your behalf.

‘Decision-ready’ visa applications

At Titan Migration, we believe in lodging a ‘decision-ready’ partner visa application for our clients. ‘Decision-ready’ means that the application is ready for the Department case officer to make a decision on straight away without needing to request further information. To do this, we ensure that all supporting documents, application form responses and requirements are completed and submitted at the time the visa application is lodged. This reduces the likelihood of processing delays in your application. When documents are missing or responses are incomplete, the Department may delay or even refuse your visa application.

In the current environment of declining partner visa grants and record high visa application charges, it’s not worth the risk. Contact us on +61 404 010 815 or and let us give you the best shot at being granted a partner visa to Australia.

Source: Home Affairs 2017-18 Migration Program Report