Partner visas – changes we can expect to see in 2019

Happy 2019 to all!

Looking to the year ahead, I’m expecting to see the following changes, at a minimum, to the processing of partner visa applications.

  • Pre-approval of Australian partner visa sponsors to be required before the partner visa applicant can lodge a partner visa application.  The legislation that introduces this was passed by the Australian parliament in late 2018.  It hasn’t commenced yet.  It must commence by June 2019.  People in Australia on short-term visas that are expiring will be significantly affected and some may need to leave Australia and apply from outside Australia.
  • A higher number of applications for partner visas overall.  Why? Because last year the migration intake to Australia was reduced by approximatley 40,000 places – mostly from the employer-sponsored and skilled visa categories.  Many people who may previously have been eligible for employer-sponsored or skilled visas may now consider the possibilities of applying for a partner visa.
  • The current long processing times for partner visa applications will continue to be a challenge for applicants, and possibly get longer.  For offshore partner visa applicants it’s currently taking on average 30 to 46 months to be processed for the temporary and permanent partner visas. For onshore partner visa applicants it’s currently taking on average 40 to 52 months to be processed for the temporary and permanent partner visas. The combined effects of pre-approval of sponsors and the potential for an increase in partner visa applicant numbers will almost inevitably result in an increase in the (already long) processing times.

What can potential partner visa applicants do about this?  My recommendation is to lodge the most complete and highest quality partner visa application possible.  Avoid ‘shortcuts’ and poor quality applications.  Good quality applications are still being approved and sometimes quicker than the current average processing timeframes.

Yes, a refused application can be reviewed by the Adminstrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), but you want to avoid that path by lodging a successful application initially.  Current waiting times at the AAT for a case to be heard are now approaching two years from lodgement until hearing date – they have a huge backlog of cases (50,000+).

Feel free to contact me for a consultation if you need further information about this. Regards.

Ross McDougall
Immigration Lawyer

Tel: 08 8528 9187

This information is correct at January 17th, 2019.  But, keep in mind that immigration law changes from time to time.

Information (or the lack of it) contained here does not take into account anyone’s individual circumstances and should not be relied upon as immigration assistance or legal advice.

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