The subclass 461 partner visa is specifically designed for family members and partners of New Zealand citizens who are resident in, or are about to become residents in Australia. This visa category may be used by New Zealand citizens who are not eligible to sponsor their foreign fiancee, partner or spouse for permanent residency in Australia. To be considered an eligible New Zealand citizen for the purpose of applying for a subclass 300 prospective marriage visa or subclass 309/820 spousal or unmarried partner visa, the sponsor must have resided in Australia on the 26th February 2001 and held a Subclass 444 special category visa, or resided in Australia for at least 12 months of the two years before the 26th February 2001, or was issued a special certificate under the Australian Social Security Act of 1991 stating that they were permanently residing in Australia on a particular date. All other New Zealand citizens who do not meet the eligibility criteria must sponsor their partner for the subclass 461 visa.
New Zealand citizens are automatically granted a special category temporary visa (subclass 444) which allows them to live and work in Australia. As their foreign partners would not have this automatic right, the subclass 461 is the equivalent. Unlike the 444 visa, the subclass 461 visa is not granted automatically. New Zealand citizens and their foreign partners must meet certain eligibility requirements in order to reunite in Australia.
All family members travelling with the person on the special category visa must apply separately – this can be done simultaneously using the same form. The subclass 461 visa is valid for five years and it may be renewed, subject to certain conditions being met. The visa extension may be granted even if the relationship with the New Zealand citizen on the 444 visa has broken down, as long as certain conditions are met. There must have been no serious deterioration in health and no criminal convictions or other character issues since the subclass 461 visa holder entered Australia. The applicant must have been resident in Australia for at least two years of the five years of the visa and if the applicant has joined another family unit, it must also be with a holder of a special category visa. If the new family contains an Australian citizen, the relevant partner visa must be applied for.
The subclass 461 visa is available to members of a family unit other than spouse, child or de facto partner. If not a partner, the applicant must be a relative of the visa holder and be regularly resident in their household, or be dependent on them. Generally, the applicant should not be married, but a widow or divorced person is able to apply. One non-blood relationship which is acceptable is if the applicant for the 461 visa is a dependent child of the New Zealand citizen’s partner or spouse. Several rules apply to the actual location of the household at the time the visa application is lodged; if the application is made offshore, the visa can only be issued if the applicant will be accompanied to Australia by the sponsoring New Zealand citizen unless they are already in Australia on the subclass 444 visa. By the same token, if the application is submitted in Australia, the family unit must be in the country when the decision is made. This is important and must be given due consideration when planning to apply.
Subclass 461 visa applicants and their New Zealand sponsors are treated the same as all other couples applying under the partnership policy, and will be required to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the examining DIBP (formerly DIAC) officials that they have a genuine and durable relationship as defined by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). Additional eligibility requirements are similar to other visa applications made under the partnership policy and refer to health and character. Any persons wishing to live in Australia, whether permanently or temporarily, must pose no threat to public health and safety. Similarly, anyone entering the country on any visa must agree to uphold the laws and standards of Australian life.
The requirements in this category can be discussed in detail with our experienced Australian visa consultants. Please complete our online assessment form to find out if you qualify to sponsor your foreign partner or spouse for the subclass 461 visa to live and work in Australia. One of our consultants will contact you within 24 hours of receipt of your enquiry.