Do you need to be married at the time you apply for a partner visa?


You can be granted a partner visa either because you are married to your Australian partner, or, because you are in a de facto relationship with them.

The question sometimes arises that if you are applying for a partner visa because you are married to an Australian, does your marriage need to have taken place at the time you lodge your application for the partner visa?

Like most things in immigration law, the answer is – it depends!

The answer depends upon whether you are applying for a partner visa:

  • from within Australia (onshore subclass 820/801), or,
  • from outside Australia (offshore subclass 309/100).

If you are applying onshore because you are married to an Australian then yes your marriage needs to have taken place at the time you lodge your partner visa application.

But, if you are applying offshore then you can lodge your application for the partner visa before you have actually married your Australian partner.

You must though marry within the normal processing period (time from application to decision) for the offshore partner visa.  On average, this is approximately 12 months.

Why is this of interest anyway?

Well, you may be getting married but you can’t get married right now.  That could be for a number of reasons. A common reason we see is that because you or your partner is still married to someone else.

For example, a person in Australia can’t get divorced until after they have been separated from their former partner for 12 months.

So if you are outside Australia and marrying your Australian partner in, say, 9 months time then you can potentially lodge your offshore partner visa application now.  You then get into the processing queue now and get your offshore partner visa issued much earlier than you otherwise would. Excellent!

However – and there’s always a however – their is a risk. It is that you lodge your partner visa application before your intended marriage and pay the government’s $6,865 visa application charge at the time you apply for the visa. Then, for whatever reason, your marriage doesn’t go ahead or doesn’t go ahead within the 12 month average processing time for the visa.

Unfortunately, you won’t be granted the visa. And, you almost certainly won’t get a refund of the visa application charge you have paid.

However, for those that can’t marry now, but are certain of their marriage plans, this is a strategy that is well worth keeping in mind.  Cheers.

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