Changes to the partner visa sponsorship process

Young interracial couple sitting in meadows and laughing

For many years, sponsors have been assessed as part of their partner’s visa application under Australia’s partner visa programme. This is set to change early in the new year, with recent legislation requiring sponsors to be approved first before an applicant can apply for a partner visa. The changes are not yet in effect, however the impacts are likely to be felt for many people.

What will change?

Currently, the process for applying for a partner visa involves lodging the sponsorship application by an Australian citizen or permanent resident as well as the visa applicant’s partner visa application at the same time. Both the sponsorship and visa application are assessed together.

The changes due to take effect early next year will split the process into two steps, similar to the process for employer sponsored visas. Firstly, the Australian citizen or permanent resident sponsor will need to lodge their sponsorship. This will need to be approved first before their partner, who can be either in or outside of Australia, can lodge their partner visa application.

How will this affect me?

The most obvious impact will be the length of time it takes before an applicant for a partner visa will receive their decision. Current processing times for partner visas are anywhere from 12-20 months according to the visa processing times published on the Department of Home Affairs website. The two stage process may lead to longer processing times, as there will be two separate applications for the Department of Home Affairs to process and make decisions on as opposed to one. There is no indication on how long the sponsorship process is likely to take until after the changes are implemented.

The other unfortunate consequence of these changes is for applicants who are currently in Australia and looking to lodge a partner visa application while they are here. Currently, applicants are able to do that if their current visa does not prevent them from doing so. They would also be granted a bridging visa which allows them to stay in Australia beyond the validity of their current visa and await the decision of the partner visa application. After the changes take effect, an applicant would have to wait for their sponsor to be approved first before lodging their visa application. If their current visa expires before the sponsorship is approved, they would need to either depart Australia or apply for another visa to remain here with their partner.

What can I do?

If you’re concerned about how these changes may affect you, we can assist and work out what the best option is for you and your partner. You might even be eligible to apply for a partner visa immediately and avoiding all the uncertainty once the sponsorship changes come into effect.


Contact Titan Migration for a consultation on 0404 010 815 or email us at info@titanmigration.com.au .