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Updates to the Partner Visa Program & English Language Requirements

Prefer reading? We’ve edited the transcript for you below.

Partner Visa Program Upcoming Changes

On the 25th of November 2021, Alex Hawke, the Minister of Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, announced upcoming changes to the Partner Visa program. 

In this article, Time For Advice explains these changes and how they apply to the program. If you would prefer to watch the video, head to our YouTube channel to watch the update detailed below:

Before December 2018, the Australian Government had put the laws into effect for the Partner Visa program; however, the changes have been sitting in abeyance for three years. That means the Government had not put the changes into effect. 

Due to changes in Family Violence Law, the Measures Act now impacts how the Partner Visa program works. 

Presently, when applying for the Partner Visa, you would:
– File the partner visa; and
– Then complete the sponsorship application. 
This method allows Partner Visa applicants to be granted a bridging visa immediately if they were located onshore (inside Australia). 

With the changes, the process will be reversed:
– The sponsorship application is applied for and must be approved; and then
– The partner visa is applied for. 

These changes can pose significant issues for applicants looking to remain onshore whilst the sponsorship application is being processed and approved. Sponsorship applications can take three to six months to be processed. 

We recommend for those onshore or looking to come onshore with the intention of filing a partner visa application to do so immediately. The purpose of this is to receive the bridging visa and to be permitted to remain in Australia whilst the sponsorship application is being processed. 

When filing your application, it does not need to be perfect. We recommend complying with the application guidelines and then doing everything else later to get ahead of these changes.

The timing of the changes above is not yet confirmed. Realistically it could be, today, tomorrow, or three to six months. There is no certainty on when the above will come into effect at this stage. 

English Language Requirements 

Continuing from the announcement on the 25th of November 2021, we want to confirm how the upcoming changes will affect the Partner Visa program. 

– At this stage, the English language requirement does not apply to any of the temporary partner visas and the prospective marriage. It will not apply to offshore 309 on or the onshore 820. 
– If you’re in a longstanding relationship by definition, and you are seeking the grant of permanent residency in the first instance, it also not interfere with the possible grant of that permanent residency on the initial application. 
– USA, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland sponsors who also hold permanent residency will have to demonstrate English language proficiency to the same level as the applicant. As far as we’re aware, the English language requirement will not apply to sponsors who are Australian citizens. 

It appears as though the test is very basic and is not at the level of skilled and employer-sponsored visas. However, it is a functional English language test and comes with the grant of up to 500 hours of English language tuition. This means if you are granted a temporary partner visa, there are tuitions available to improve your English language skills. Improving your English language skills will allow you to apply for permanent residency exemptions for usual passport holders. 

Originally when the announcement was made some years ago, the government announced that priority would be given to onshore applicants. We do anticipate that this will still apply due to COVID-19 and the travel restrictions in place. 

Further priority would be given to sponsors who are located in regional Australia as the department is trying to encourage people to come onshore and live regionally to accelerate processing. 

There has been an increase in the number of places available in the Partner Visa program. 

We want to assure applicants that the test is very simple and is a basic functional English test. 

Likewise, there is also a number of exemptions available. If you need further assistance with filing an application, resolving an inquiry related to a criteria, our team of expert migration specialists can assist. 

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