Should my Thai wife apply for a partner visa in Australia or offshore?
A question that we are often asked by clients is whether they should apply for a partner visa in Australia or offshore. Both have certain advantages and disadvantages.
Applying for a partner visa in Australia
To apply for a partner visa in Australia, an applicant must be in Australia at the time of application and holding a visa that allows them to apply for another visa whilst they are in Australia. For example, if your Thai wife applies for and is granted a visitor visa under the sponsored family stream, then her visitor visa will have the Condition 8503 no further stay attached to it. This means that she will be prevented from applying for a partner visa in Australia unless she can have condition 8503 removed from her visa. This can only be done in very limited circumstances.
Eligibility -what is an Australian spouse visa?
To be eligible for a partner visa you must be married or in a defacto relationship with an Australian citizen or a permanent resident.
Australia visitors visa tourist stream
If your Thai wife applies for a visitor visa under the tourist stream, her visitor visa may or may not have Condition 8503 attached to it. If it doesn’t, she will be able to apply for a partner visa in Australia. At Thai Visa Express the majority of our clients apply for visitor visas under the tourist stream. We rarely have applicants who apply under the sponsored family stream.
Assuming that your Thai wife is able to apply for a partner visa in Australia, she will need to make a valid application prior to her current visa expires. Once she makes her application, she will be granted a Bridging Visa A which will allow her to remain lawfully in Australia until a decision is made on her partner visa application. It is very important to note that Bridging Visa A will not become active until her current visa ceases. Until then she must continue to comply with all of the conditions of her current visa.
The processing time for an onshore partner visa application can take up to 2 years. During this time your Thai wife will be entitled to Medicare and have unlimited work and study rights. However, if she wishes to leave Australia during the time she will need to apply for and be granted a Bridging Visa B. To be granted a Bridging Visa B to depart and return to Australia during the processing period of her partner visa application she will need to show that she has a substantial need to travel.
Applying for a partner visa offshore in Thailand
To apply for a partner visa outside of Australia (offshore) your Thai wife must be outside of Australia at both times of application and decision. If she wishes to visit you in Australia during the processing period, she will need to apply for a visa which allows her to do so, for example, a visitor visa. Any period of stay in Australia will be at the discretion of the Department.
My wife has applied for a partner visa, can she be granted a visitor visa?
The processing time for an offshore partner visa is up to 18 months from the date of application. As previously stated, your Thai wife must be outside of Australia at both of time of application and time of decision. If she wants to visit you in Australia during this period, she must be granted a visitor visa. Many people mistakenly assume that because they have applied for a partner visa, this automatically entitles them to a visitor visa. This is simply not the case. A partner visa and a tourist visa are assessed on very different criteria, and as such your Thai wife’s partner, the visa application is yet to be tested. Any visitor visa application must address all of the criteria for the grant of a visa which shows that the applicant’s intention is to visit Australia as a genuine temporary visitor only.