Sponsors of Partner and Prospective Marriage visas lodged on or after 18 November 2016 to provide police checks

The Australian government is committed to reducing violence in the Australian community, including family and sexual violence. As part of this commitment, we will ask sponsors of Partner/Prospective Marriage visa applications lodged on or after 18 November 2016 to provide Australian and/or foreign police checks and to give us permission to disclose convictions for certain offences to the visa applicant(s). See our website for information about the changes, including offences we can disclose.

The changes only apply to cases where the visa application is made on or after 18 November 2016. If your partner lodged his/her application before 18 November 2016, the new requirements will not apply to you, even if you submit your sponsorship form after 18 November 2016.

Applicants who already hold a subclass 309 or 820 visa and are waiting for a decision on the subclass 100 or 801 visa are not affected. This is because they lodged the visa application before 18 November 2016.

Tips on lodging Partner visa applications

Applications for Partner (Temporary) visas (subclass 820) and Partner (Provisional) visas (subclass 309) are currently taking between 12 and 15 months to process, due to high demand. If you are planning to apply for a Partner category visa, either in Australia or overseas, here are a few helpful tips:

  1. Use a document checklist to help prepare your application.
  2. Lodge your application with all required documentation using ImmiAccount.
  3. If you need help, consider using a registered migration agent.

1.     Use a document checklist

There are checklists on our website to assist you in preparing your application.

Stage 1 – Temporary Partner or Prospective Marriage visa (300,309,820)

Stage 2 – Permanent Partner (100, 801)

For applicants outside Australia:

For applicants in Australia:

Note: If you hold a Stage 1-Partner (subclass 309 or subclass 820) visa, you can check your eligibility for the Stage 2 Permanent visa using the Partner (Permanent) Calculator.

2.     Lodge your complete application using ImmiAccount

Lodging your application online is a quicker and easier method, and will get you faster results than lodging by paper. First, you will need to create or login to your ImmiAccount. Once logged in, you can submit your application and attach any relevant documentation. You can login to your ImmiAccount at any time to prepare, track or manage your application.

All documents must be scanned and uploaded to your ImmiAccount. Do not send them by email or by post as it will delay your assessment.

Complete applications that contain comprehensive documents in support of a genuine relationship will get priority and are quicker to process.

Information on creating an ImmiAccount and lodging on line can be found here: http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa/Immi

Information on attaching documents to an online application can be found here: http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa/Atta

See Partner Category Visa Options for detailed information about what to lodge with your Partner application.

For information about supporting evidence such as statutory declarations, and certifying and translating documents, see information to help prepare your application.

3.    Consider using a registered migration agent

Registered migration agents can assist you to prepare your application for a fee. To practise in Australia and act on behalf of visa applicants, agents must be registered with the Office of Registered Migration Agents of Australia (OMARA). For more information about using a registered migration agent, see http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa/Usin. To search for a registered migration agent, visit the OMARA website.

 

Partner (Provisional) visa (subclass 309) – what you need to do next

If you arrived in Australia on a Partner (Provisional) visa, it is important to inform us about any changes to your personal details, such as a new residential address or new passport details. You can provide this information by completing Form 929. If your family circumstances have changed, fill in Form 1022.

Two years after you first lodged your Partner (Provisional) visa application overseas, we will send you a letter via email or the post requesting the information we need to consider your permanent visa application. It is important to keep your contact details updated to ensure you receive your letter.

If it has been more than two years since you first lodged your application overseas and you have not received a letter from us, you can apply through ImmiAccount or download the documents you need from our website.

Changes to Other Family and Non-Contributory Parent visas

On 2 June 2014 the government repealed the following visas:

Parent (non-contributory) visas:

  • subclass 103 (Parent)
  • subclass 804 (Aged Parent)

Other Family visas:

  • subclasses 114 and 838 (Aged Dependent Relative)
  • subclasses 115 and 835 (Remaining Relative) and
  • subclasses 116 and 836 (Carer)

Why is the Government ceasing new applications for these visas?

The focus of family migration is on the reunion of close family members, who are the partners, children and contributory parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents. Closure of the Parent (non-contributory) and Other Family visas will help free up places in the Family Stream for the migration of close family members.

The visas being repealed have long processing queues. Based on current planning levels, an applicant for a Parent (non-contributory) visa can expect to wait about 13 years before being considered for the grant of a visa after being allocated a queue date. An applicant for an Other Family visa can expect a waiting time of between four years (for a Carer visa) and 16 years (for a Remaining Relative and Aged Dependent Relative visa). These waiting periods reflect the significant number of visa applications in comparison to the limited number of visa places available each Migration Programme year.

What other options will parents have to migrate to Australia?

Parents will continue to have the option of applying for a permanent Contributory Parent visa, either subclass 143 (Parent) for parents outside Australia or subclass 864 (Aged Parent) for parents in Australia. Under these visas, applicants are required to pay a higher Visa Application Charge (VAC) and Assurance of Support bond than the Non-contributory parent visa. It is possible to stagger the costs by first applying for a temporary Contributory Parent visa and then for the permanent Contributory Parent visa. The temporary Contributory Parent visas include the Contributory Parent (subclass 173) visa for parents outside Australia and the Contributory Aged Parent (subclass 884) visa for parents in Australia.

Alternatively, parents can apply for a long stay Visitor visa which allows eligible parents to visit their children in Australia for regular periods of up to 12 months at a time over an extended validity period. For many families, temporary stay provides greater flexibility without the need to wait in a queue for years for a permanent visa.

What options do other family relatives have to migrate to Australia once these visas are closed?

Relatives of Australian citizens and permanent residents other than partners, children and contributory parents who wish to migrate to Australia will need to satisfy requirements for entry as a skilled migrant. All intending migrants interested in the points based skilled migration or business investment and innovation visa programs are required to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) using the SkillSelect online service and receive an invitation in order to lodge a visa application.

I have already applied for a visa. What happens to my application?

If you have already applied for an Other Family or Non-Contributory Parent visa your application will continue to be processed under existing regulations and policy. Please note that the Parent (non-contributory) and Other Family visas are subject to annual planning levels. In 2014-15, 1500 places have been allocated to Parent (non-contributory) and 500 places to Other Family. Based on 2014-15 planning levels, you can expect to wait up to 13 years for a Parent (non-contributory) visa, four years for an Other Family (Carer) visa and up to 16 years for an Other Family (Aged Dependent Relative) or Other Family (Remaining Relative) visa.

I want to add a dependent family member to my existing application. Am I able to do this?

Eligible dependent family members, such as a partner or dependent children, are able to be added to an application after the date of repeal. You will need to provide evidence of the relationship, including dependency, in submitting this application.

I have an ongoing need for assistance due to a disability and had intended to sponsor my relative to migrate to Australia as a Carer to look after me. What options would I have to bring my relative to Australia if the Carer visa is closed to new applications?

Relatives other than the partners, children and contributory parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents who wish to migrate to Australia will need to satisfy requirements for entry as a skilled migrant.

Alternatively, your relative may be eligible for a longer stay Visitor visa. Eligible applicants are able to stay in Australia for a longer stay period than would otherwise be provided on a Visitor visa, where they can show that the purpose of their visit is to assist with the short-term care needs of a seriously ill relative who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Normal visitor visa requirements apply including the requirement that the applicant genuinely intends only a temporary stay in Australia.

What alternatives are there for me to migrate to Australia as a remaining relative or aged dependant relative if these visas are closed?

Relatives other than the partners, children and parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents who wish to migrate to Australia will need to satisfy the requirements for entry as a skilled migrant.

For more information see:

www.immi.gov.au/Live/Pages/certain-family-visas-closure.aspx


 

 

 

New Identity Requirements in Public Interest Criterion (PIC) 4020

New identity requirements were introduced for Public Interest Criterion (PIC) 4020 from 22 March 2014.

PIC 4020 is a criterion that attaches to a number of visa subclasses. If PIC 4020 is part of the criteria for the particular skilled migration, student, business skills, family or temporary visa you have applied for, you must satisfy PIC 4020 in order to be granted your visa.

Since 2011, PIC 4020 has enabled refusal of a visa if an applicant provides a bogus document or information that is false or misleading in relation to their application.

The new identity requirements mean that as part of your visa application you must now satisfy the Minister of your identity. If you are refused a visa because you are unable to satisfy the Minister of your identity, you will not be granted a visa for a period of 10 years after refusal. You won’t be able to provide reasons to waive these new requirements, as they are not subject to a waiver.

If your visa is refused because you did not satisfy the Minister of your identity, anyone who is listed as a member of their family unit will also be refused. These family members will also be prevented from being granted another visa (where the visa requires you to satisfy PIC 4020 as part of the visa criteria) for 10 years.

The other criteria of the PIC remain the same and you are still required to satisfy them in order to be granted a visa.

Visa applicants must not provide bogus documents or false or misleading information in support of their visa application. If your visa application is refused because you or any of the members of your family unit provide bogus documents or information that is false or misleading in relation to your application, you might be prevented from being granted a visa for three years.

Find out more at: www.immi.gov.au/Live/Pages/document-fraud.aspx

The Skilled Occupation List (SOL)

The SOL is a really useful tool for giving people who want to migrate to Australia a clear idea of just what skills are in short supply here over the next three to five years. You can check if your skills are needed in Australia by referring to the current list on the department’s website.

What is the SOL and what does it do?

The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) is a list of skilled occupations that deliver high value skills needed by the Australian economy. The SOL only applies to independent, that is non-employer sponsored or State/Territory government nominated skilled migration. It aims to meet medium- to long-term skills needs of high value occupations, rather than immediate short term shortages. This means your occupation must be on the SOL if you are applying for:

• points based skilled migration independently (not nominated by a State or Territory government);

• Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate visa in the graduate work stream); or

• family sponsored stream of the Subclass 489 Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa.

Who updates it, and how?

Every year, the SOL is reviewed and re-examined by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) and as a result of this review, the SOL is updated on 1 July. When AWPA reviews the SOL, it uses a combination of macro-economic data, labour market data and consultations with relevant industry bodies to identify occupations where independent skilled migration is a sensible approach to help ensure a good match between supply and demand for skills in the medium and longer term. This year’s review included submissions from unions, peak industry associations, industry skills councils and a range of professional associations.
When providing advice as to what occupations should be included on the SOL, AWPA takes into account factors such as an occupation’s skill level, the lead time necessary to develop the required skills, whether the skills are deployed for the use intended and the economic impacts of a skills shortage in particular occupations.
AWPA advised the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship on the 2013 SOL, including some changes, which you can see here

Are there options available if my Nominated Occupation isn’t on the SOL?

If you don’t have an occupation on the SOL, you may be eligible for State and Territory nomination or employer sponsorship. Employers, as well as States and Territory governments, have access to a wider range of occupations on the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL). We’ll have a look at the CSOL in my next blog post.

Determining Australia’s Migration Program

Australia’s migration program for 2013–14 was announced in May 2013. This sets the number of places available for people who want to migrate to Australia permanently. But have you considered how the Australian Government plans and determines the size and composition of the program each year?

To manage permanent migration to Australia, the government sets annual planning levels, which determine the number of people who may be granted the privilege to call Australia home each year.

The planning levels are informed by many factors, including:

  • social, demographic and economic trends
  • government policies relative to migration and population
  • expected demand for skilled labour
  • estimated demand for family reunion places
  • net overseas migration levels.

The department also undertakes comprehensive consultations with state and territory governments, industry and community leaders to prepare advice about migration levels and inform its submission to government on the size and composition of the migration program for the following year.

In 2013–14 the migration program maintained 190 000 places with a small reallocation of 700 places from skilled to family migration.

The shift in places between skilled and family will result in 128 550 places available in the skill stream and 60 885 places available in the family stream in 2013–14. The remaining 565 places in the migration program are allocated to the special eligibility stream, which hasn’t changed from the previous program year.  

During the past decade the composition of the migration program has shifted towards the skilled component in support of Australian labour demands.  The skilled migration program has evolved into a mix of demand driven and independent skilled migration.

A slight rebalance of the program in 2013–14 will continue to respond to Australia’s skills shortages under a slightly softer labour market, while addressing the strong demand for family reunification, enabling more Australians to unite with their close relatives.

With the launch of SkillSelect in July 2012, the skilled component of the migration program has become more targeted—helping the Australian Government to better deliver the skills Australia needs.

For more detailed information on the 2013–14 migration program go to the migration program fact sheets available on the department’s website.

Same-sex marriage and skilled migration visas

Some of the claims in a recent mainstream media report about same-sex marriage and skilled migration were wrong. Brian Greig’s Sydney Morning Herald report ‘Banning gay marriage impacts on skilled migration’ (18 May 2013) claimed that by not recognising same-sex marriage, Australia is causing skilled workers from overseas to bypass Australia in favour of countries that recognise their marriage. Let’s address some of the issues raised and correct some inaccuracies.

In the article, the author says little has changed since 2005, a time when skilled visa applicants with a same-sex partner could not include them in their application.

This is incorrect. In 2009 changes to Commonwealth law removed discrimination against same-sex couples and their children. As part of these changes, new definitions of ‘spouse’ and ‘de facto’ partner were introduced into the Migration Act 1958 (the Migration Act) such that same-sex couples were given the same entitlements as heterosexual couples. This paved the way for all visa applicants to include their same-sex partners and allowed those partners the same work rights as ‘spouses’.  It’s a shame the report got this so wrong.

While the article is correct to say the status of ‘de facto’ for same-sex couples is not automatic this is misleading as no relationship status is automatic for migration purposes. All couples — married or de facto — are required to demonstrate their relationship is genuine and continuing, that they have a mutual commitment to a shared life and that they live together on a permanent basis.

The claim that couples must spend ‘a two year period of co-habitation on our shores’ is also misleading. Permanent visas and some temporary visas generally require de facto couples to demonstrate their relationship has existed for at least 12 months before they lodge their visa application. There is an exemption to this requirement for de facto couples who have registered their relationship under an Australian state or territory scheme, regardless of their sexual orientation.

It is true that a same-sex marriage that is legally solemnised overseas is not recognised for migration purposes. This is because the Migration Act mirrors the Marriage Act 1961 (the Marriage Act) which means that only marriages valid under the Marriage Act can be recognised when assessing visa applications. While their same-sex marriage is not recognised, couples can still be recognised and assessed under the de facto provisions. The fact that a marriage occurred overseas can be taken into account in this assessment.

While Australia’s migration law does not currently recognise a same-sex marriage solemnised overseas, it is taken to be a de facto relationship which hence gives these people the same entitlements as heterosexual married or de facto couples.

Streamlining family violence evidence requirements

The family violence provisions in migration law allow certain visa applicants to remain in Australia if their relationship has broken down and they have suffered family violence.

On June 17 this year, the government proposed changes to how people who have suffered family violence provide evidence (other than court orders) to the department.  For more information on the proposed changes, see the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship’s media release – New Support for family violence victims at www.minister.immi.gov.au/media/cb/2012/cb187607.htm 

The proposed changes seek to improve access for vulnerable applicants who have suffered family violence. Under the proposed new framework, applicants would need to present a minimum number of documents from a list of acceptable evidence.

The intent is that the list would include documents which are accessible to victims of family violence.  People who have suffered family violence may have gained access to a range of support services and it is fair that they be able to provide these documents to the department as evidence. 

For example, the list could include:

  • hospital medical reports
  • police reports
  • proof that the applicant has already satisfied the same definition of family violence under another Commonwealth law
  • welfare authority reports regarding fears for a dependent child’s safety,  and
  • letters or statutory declarations from persons in certain professions including social workers, psychologists, marriage counsellors, medical practitioners, women’s refuge counsellors.

We are seeking feedback on the above list of documents and would be interested to hear your ideas about other credible documents that may be accessible to family violence victims.  Suggestions will be accepted up until September 1.

Further information about the current requirements for submitting family violence claims is available on our website at: www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/38domestic.htm

Removal of Assurance of Support (AoS) requirement from Partner visas

Changes to partner visas  

From 1 January 2012, the discretionary Assurance of Support (AoS) requirement was removed from partner visas. This change complemented other 1 January amendments to social security legislation that affect eligibility for welfare payments.  

The change means that an AoS will not be required for partner visa applications made on or after 1 January. The change also applies to any partner visa applications still before the department or the Migration Review Tribunal on or after 1 January.

 The amendments affect the following visa subclasses:

 Partner temporary visa (subclass 309)

 Partner permanent visa (subclass 100)

 Partner temporary visa (subclass 820)

 Partner permanent visa (subclass 801)

 Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300).

Information for those who have already had an AoS accepted by the Department of Human Services (DHS)

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is responsible for administering the AoS program. If you would like more information about the status of an AoS that was accepted by DHS prior to 1 January, please contact DHS through their AoS enquiry line on 132 850.

DHS advises the AoS will be enforced by DHS in situations where the AoS affected partner visa was granted prior to 1 January. DHS has advised that in all other partner visa cases, the AoS will be cancelled.

Further information about the AoS amendments are available on our website at: www.immi.gov.au/legislation/amendments/2012/120101/lc01012012-01.htm    

Additional information about the AoS is available on DHS’ website at: www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/Centrelink/assurance-of-support