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Details of the Partner Visa Change Bill were released today which target proposed changes to the partner visa program to avoid mandatory offshore activity due to the COVID19 pandemic to a single visa. Subclass 309 Visas are affected. 

The “Migration Amendment (Common Sense Partner Visa) Act 2020”, a private members bill by MP Julian Hill, targets a single visa – the subclass 309 temporary partner visa, and alters the legislation to enable that visa to be granted regardless of whether the applicant is onshore in Australia or offshore. Currently, applicants for this visa must be offshore at the time of grant of the visa.

Contact us immediately if the Partner Visa Change Bill Subclass 309 Visa may affect you and your spouse. We can help guide you through the complex and difficult immigration process due to COVID-19 changes. 

While the bill, if enacted, would address travel restriction concerns for subclass 309 applicants, this bill does not extend the benefit of onshore grants to other visa subclasses including:

  • Prospective Marriage (subclass 300), Adoption (subclass 102)
  • Child (subclass 101)
  • Dependent Child (Subclass 445) 

 The Department of Home Affairs has indicated it will be changed in 2021 to allow visa grant while onshore in Australia:

“It is intended that changes will be implemented in early 2021 that would allow certain family visas, which have been applied for outside Australia, to be granted while the visa applicant is in Australia.  This temporary concession will be for people who are in Australia and are not able to travel offshore to be granted the visa due to COVID-19 related border closures.” (DHA Website Statement – https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/covid-19-visa-concessions)

A significant issue facing onshore partner visa applicants who have been unable to leave Australia is the Schedule 3 criteria which affect onshore partner visa applicants who hold only a bridging visa or no visa. The threshold for a waiver of the Schedule 3 criteria has increased considerably in recent years, and a temporary waiver of enforcement of the Schedule 3 conditions has not been formally proposed. 

Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage Visa (PMV)

Offshore subclass 300 Prospective Marriage Visa (PMV) applicants and visa holders remain concerned that as fiances of Australians are not given an automatic exemption from the travel ban to Australia, any hopes of entering Australia on a PMV are remote at present. 

The Australian partner visa program is set to undergo the most substantial changes in years in 2021 when. The requirements for these visas will be changed to include:

  • An English test
  • Splitting of the sponsor application and visa application
  • Thus, creating a scenario where a sponsor must first apply for a sponsorship application prior to a visa applicant being able to apply for a partner visa and receiving a bridging visa allowing the applicant to remain in Australia from that point until the partner visa is decided.

 Implementation of these changes is planned for 2021, however, no specific information has been announced as to when in 2021 these changes will be made.

Shakenovsky & Associates will provide updated coverage of changes in immigration policy and requirements as they develop. Visit our immigration law services page often and contact us directly with any questions about your personal situation.