Since July 2010, 1053 partner and spouse visas have been cancelled by the Australian government in response to allegations of fake relationships, sham marriages, and visa holders living outside of the country after being granted a migrant visa under the partnership policy (subclass 309/820) with their sponsoring partners remaining in Australia. Despite some lawyers and Australian migration agents saying they believe the government has acted too harshly, the government itself believes it is simply cracking down on those who abuse the system.
The Australian partner visa system is under tremendous pressure at the moment, with 47,500 migrants making use of it in the last year alone, up 15,000 from a decade ago. An additional 58,000 applications were still being processed as of June 2013. In fact, partner and marriage visas make up approximately 77% of family migration into the country. One of the reasons for this is that it is the last remaining “as-of-right” route to immigration, and as such does not require any assessment of an individual’s English language ability or professional skills and qualifications.
There were various reasons given for cancelling 1053 Australian partner visas over the past few years. By far the most common was that the visa holder was residing outside of the country after being granted a partner or spousal visa to live in Australia; this reason accounted for 809 of the cancellations. The remaining visas were cancelled due to incorrect information or bogus documents being provided; character related grounds, problems arising from misuse of temporary visas or suspected sham marriages.
As part of the partner visa application process, Australian migration officials must determine whether or not a relationship is genuine and continuing. An application will be declined if the applicant and their Australian sponsor fail to convince the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) officials that their relationship is bona fide. Likewise, if there are substantial grounds for believing that an Australian unmarried partner or spouse visa was obtained fraudulently, the DIBP has the authority to conduct further investigations (including home visits) and cancel the existing visa.