Australian immigration law allows spouses and de facto partners of Australian citizens, lawful permanent residents, and eligible New Zealand citizens permanently residing in Australia, to obtain a migrant class visa to live and work in Australia. In order to obtain a marriage visa to bring a foreign husband or wife to Australia, you must either be legally married to your partner or intend to marry your partner before a decision is made on your partner’s spousal visa application.
If you have been in a stable, genuine and ongoing de facto relationship with your partner for at least 12 months prior to filing your application, you may be eligible to obtain a family-class de facto partner visa to bring your loved one to Australia. The 12-month relationship requirement may be waived if you and your partner have children together. If the period of living together in a relationship like marriage is less than one year and you have no children together, you may want to investigate the possibility of bringing your fiancee to Australia on a subclass 300 prospective marriage visa.
Depending on your individual circumstances, your husband or wife may apply for a provisional spousal visa either offshore or onshore. Offshore applications are processed by the Australian visa-issuing posts overseas, whereas onshore applications are decided by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) offices in Australia. Processing times vary depending on the country of application.
Subclass 309 and Subclass 100 migrant visas
If you decide to apply for a spousal visa from outside Australia, your spouse or de facto partner initially will be granted a subclass 309 temporary migrant visa, commonly known as a provisional or conditional marriage visa. If, after two years, you are still married and intend to continue living together, you can apply to register your loved one as a permanent unconditional resident of Australia. During the two-year period, provisional visa holders receive most of the benefits that permanent residents do. For instance, they can work, travel in and out of Australia, and count the time they spend as conditional residents toward physical presence requirements for Australian citizenship.
In general, conditional permanent residency is a two-year “testing period” before a foreign national who immigrates to Australia through an Australian spouse becomes a full-fledged lawful permanent resident. The purpose of conditional permanent resident status is to guarantee that only people who form real marriages and partnerships will obtain immigration benefits. In order to be successful in securing a migrant visa for your wife, husband or de facto partner you must demonstrate that you are indeed in a bona fide relationship and that you entered into your family union in good faith, and not to evade Australian immigration laws. If the immigration department is convinced that your marriage or partnership is genuine and that you intend to stay together, your loved one will be granted a subclass 100 permanent visa.
Subclass 820 and Subclass 801 visas
If your fiancee is already in Australia on a temporary visa with no special “no further stay” condition (e.g. on a subclass 300 prospective marriage visa) and you are legally married, or have been in a genuine de facto relationship for at least one year, you may be eligible to submit your spouse visa application from within Australia. In this case, your spouse will initially be granted a subclass 820 temporary (conditional) spousal visa. In approximately two years after obtaining the temporary visa, you must apply together for your spouse’s permanent (unconditional) subclass 801 migrant visa by submitting a joint application to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) onshore. You must still be married or in an ongoing de facto relationship, and intend to continue living together in order to qualify for the permanent visa.
It should be noted that the nine-month validity period of the subclass 300 prospective marriage visa does not count towards the two-year requirement as it applies to the provisional spouse visa application process. Thus, if your loved one initially entered Australia on a fiancee visa, you will need to wait two years from the day her subclass 820 visa is granted before you can apply together to remove the conditions from her provisional spousal visa.
Marriage visa interview
If the immigration authorities are not satisfied with the written application, they may require one or both partners to appear for a personal “face-to-face” marriage visa interview. During the spouse or partner visa interview, the adjudicating migration officer will ask a series of questions to find out more about your case and to ensure that the information provided in your initial spousal or partner visa application is honest and accurate. Most likely, the Embassy or DIBP officials will ask questions about your life together to ensure that your relationship is bona fide, ongoing, and was not entered into solely for immigration purposes.
If there are serious doubts concerning the legitimacy of the relationship, the officers may choose to interview the husband and wife separately. If there are any conflicts or discrepancies between the answers provided, the examiner may not give the couple a chance to explain or clarify. It is not uncommon for people who aren’t prepared for the interview to be nervous. Because of apprehension, they may answer one or more of the interview questions incorrectly, which can raise suspicions and cause investigation. For these reasons, it is important to become familiar with the different types of documentary evidence accepted by the immigration authorities and prepare thoroughly for the initial marriage visa interview.
If you have any questions concerning the spousal or partner visa application process, please feel free to contact our Australian visa department for a detailed consultation.