Starting 15th March 2009, the Australian Government has been implementing core changes to the same sex marriage visa process. With the aim to ensure that there is no discrimination against same sex marriage couples and their children from Commonwealth Law, the changes have ironed out any discrepancies between marriage visa applications for opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples, or de facto partners. The Australian Government strongly believes that all citizens are entitled to participate in society and live with dignity and respect, regardless of sexual orientation and these changes help to illustrate that belief.
The changes are effectively being introduced in two phases; the first occurred on 15th March 2009 and saw amendments to the Immigrations (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946 and the Australian Citizenship Act 2007. These initial citizenship changes related to the adults and children of same-sex marriages or de facto partnerships will now allow for time spent outside of Australia by a partner in a same-sex committed relationship to be considered as time within Australia for visa application purposes, in line with opposite-sex married or de facto couples.
The second phase comes into effect on 1st July 2009 and sees amendments to three Acts and Regulations, namely the Immigration (Education) Act 1971, the Migration Regulations 1994 and the Migration Act 1958. These changes bring migration changes that involve the members of the family being considered ‘members of the same family unit’ for visa application purposes.
The purpose of these two core changes to the marriage visa application process for same-sex couples is guarantee that same-sex couples receive the exact same treatment as opposite-sex couples, both as partners and parents.
It comes in addition to the recognition of same-sex marriages by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship and will further broaden the potential visa applications and citizenship provisions possible for same-sex couples, both married and in de facto marriage relationships, and their children.