Pre-approval of partner visa sponsors may be coming

The government has been attempting to pass a new law through parliament – so far unsuccessfully – which will require the Australian sponsor of a partner visa applicant to be ‘pre-approved’ as a sponsor.

Under the new law, only after pre-approval of their sponsor would the partner visa applicant be able to lodge their partner visa application.

Sponsors with a significant criminal record or who have sponsored before may not be ‘pre-approved’ as sponsors. This differs from the current process in that the sponsor at the moment is approved as a sponsor, or not, after the partner visa application is lodged.

The full effect of this new law, if passed by parliament, is as yet not completey understood.

‘Pre-approval’ of sponors is a process that will no doubt take a considerable amount of time – possibly many months.

As part of the approval process, sponsors need to provide police checks from every country they have spent a year or more in, in the last ten years.  Obtaining these police checks takes time.  Then, the immigration department has to process the sponsorship ‘pre-approval’ application.  Again, that will take time.

Applying from Outside Australia

For a partner visa applicant that is applying from outside Australia this will be an added frustration and delay – but not critical for them.

Applying from within Australia

However, for a partner visa applicant that is applying from inside Australia, it could be problematic.

Many applicants from within Australia are on temporary visas that are expiring – visitor, student, or 457 visas, for example.  They need to lodge their partner visa before their temporary visa expires. It’s common for applicants to lodge the parner visa application just before their temporary visa expires.  This maximises the amount of time they have been in the relationship before they apply for the partner visa.

What then will happen to intending partner visa applicants in Australia whose temporary visa is expiring whilst their sponsor is being processed for ‘pre-approval’?

There is currently no answer to that question. We’ll have to wait and see.

However, it’s not in the Immigration Department’s best interests for partner visa applicants in Australia to become unlawful whilst waiting for pre-approval of their sponsors.  This would create a big administrative headache for the department.

Stay tuned for further details!

Ross McDougall

Immigration Lawyer



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