The processing times for partner visas has never been as long as it currently is now. An onshore partner visa application can take up to 2 years to be granted from the date of application. The offshore partner visa is not far behind that at up to 18 months. Whether you apply onshore or offshore, be prepared for a very long wait.
We are often asked by clients how can they can apply for a partner visa in Australia? The advantage of applying for a partner visa in Australia is that the applicant can remain lawfully in Australia until a decision is made on their application. If applying offshore the applicant must be outside of Australia at both times of application and time of decision. If they want to visit Australia during the lengthy processing period they must apply for and be granted a visa which allows them to do so, such as a visitor visa. There are definitely significant advantages that come from being able to apply for a partner visa in Australia.
Applying for a partner visa in Australia
To apply for a partner visa in Australia, the applicant must first be in Australia at the time of application and holding a valid substantive visa. A substantive visa is basically any visa other than a bridging visa, for example, a visitor visa or a student visa. Not only must the applicant be in Australia on a valid substantive visa, but their visa must also not have Condition 8503 no further stay attached to it. This is a condition that prevents a person from applying for any other visa whilst they are in Australia. If your visa has condition 8503 attached to it, you will be prevented from applying for a partner visa in Australia. In very limited circumstances condition 8503 can be waived from a person’s visa which would then allow them to make an onshore partner visa application. You cannot ask for Condition 8503 to not be imposed on your visa.
Will my visa have Condition 8503 attached to it?
This will depend upon the visa that you hold. For some visas, condition 8503 cannot be imposed, for some, it may be imposed and for some, it must be imposed. The following are some examples:
Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) – Condition 8503 cannot be imposed
Condition 8503 cannot be imposed on an ETA visa. This means that if you are in Australia and holding a valid ETA, you can apply for another visa in Australia.It should be noted that citizens of Thailand are not eligible to apply for an ETA visa, and must apply for a visitor visa.
Visitor visa (tourist stream) – Condition 8503 may be imposed
If you apply for a visitor visa under the tourist stream, condition 8503 may be imposed. This means that the Department has the discretion to place it on your visa or not. Where condition 8503 is discretionary, it is usually imposed when the decision-maker has some residual concerns that an applicant may not be intending to visit Australia as a genuine temporary entrant, but those concerns are not sufficient enough to refuse their visitor visa application. Generally, if a person has a history of Australian visa compliance, it would not be imposed on subsequent visitor visas under the tourist stream.
Visitor visa (sponsored family stream) – Condition 8503 must be imposed
If you apply for a visitor visa under sponsored family stream, condition 8503 must be imposed. This means that you will be prevented from applying for a partner visa in Australia.