Changes to Australian Partner Visas – what you need to know!
On the 28 November 2018, the Australian Government approved the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill.
This new Act will primarily apply only to Partner Visas but will be expanded ultimately to include all family sponsors.
Under this Act, all Partner Visa sponsors are required to be approved by the Department of Home Affairs prior to the Partner Visa being made.
The purpose of this Act is to improve the management of family violence within the family visa regime and advance the protection of visa applicants and vulnerable sponsors. The Australia Government is aware of the ongoing concern of family violence and the ‘power imbalance’ that has been found between visa applicants and their sponsors through dominance and financial enticements.
It is unclear as to when the amendments will come into force. There is an uncertain amount of time between the commencements of the Act and the commencement of the Regulations that will prescribe the application process.
Currently, a Partner Visa application can be lodged at the same time as the sponsorship application with both applications being assessed together. The new amendments will require a separate Partner Visa Sponsor application and a Partner Visa application.
Sponsors will now be more heavily scrutinised before a Partner Visa is issued. Personal information included in the Sponsorship application can be shared between a range of parties associated with the family visa regime, although those ‘parties’ still remain unknown. In addition, sponsors are required to meet their statutory obligations as a sponsor with sanctions being imposed if they are not satisfied.
It is unclear as to the processing time for the Partner Visa Sponsor application but nevertheless, this will increase the already lengthy application process.
What does this mean for you?
The changes to the legislation can cause significant consequences for you if you are currently planning to lodge a Partner Visa application, especially if your current visa is expiring shortly. This is because your partner’s Sponsorship application must be lodged and approved before you can apply for your Partner Visa. If you are currently in this situation, we urge you to obtain proper advice.
In the event that a decision has not been made in relation to the Sponsorship Application and your current visa has expired, you may be required to leave Australia and apply offshore. This means that you may be forced to remain outside of Australia until your Partner Visa is granted, unless you are eligible to obtain another visa, such as a visitor visa. Again we urge you to obtain proper advice.
It is also suggested that the requirement of having a separate Partner Visa Sponsor application will result in a new application fee which will increase the losts of obtaining this visa.
If you require further information in relation to these new changes, please contact one of our friendly staff at Bambrick Legal today on (08) 8362 5269.