309 & 820 Partner Visa

Australian citizens and permanent residents may sponsor their foreign partners for permanent visas. This is usually a two-step process consisting of a provisional visa for which the application is lodged whilst in Australia for the Subclass 820 Visa and whilst outside Australia for the Subclass 309 Visa, followed by a permanent visa: Subclass 801 Visa and Subclass 100 Visa respectively.

In exceptional cases, a provisional visa may be bypassed and permanent residency may be granted directly if the relationship has produced a child, or has been ongoing for at least 3 years. However, this is highly discretionary and in the hands of the Department of Home Affairs.

Proving the genuineness of a relationship for the purpose of an Australian partner visa requires a great volume of quality evidence. Merely marrying or registering a de facto relationship will never be enough to satisfy the criteria enforced by the Department of Home Affairs for the visa grant.

Partner Visa Criteria

Partner: You can either be a de facto partner or a married spouse of an Australian citizen or a permanent resident. Additionally, you must prove that you have a mutual commitment to a shared life as a couple to the exclusion of all others. You must also prove that your relationship is genuine and continuing. In doing so, cohabitation is almost mandatory, and if you are physically living apart, you must demonstrate that the separation is merely temporary.

In establishing genuineness and continuity of the relationship, relevant factors include:

  • Social aspects, in how the couple appears to their friends, family and the world at large; and
  • Financial aspects, in which the finances are maintained jointly; and
  • Household aspects, which often include reasonable division of domestic chores; and
  • Mutual commitment to maintaining a joint life with one another.

If either party to the relationship has previously been married or in a de facto relationship, they should prove that the previous relationship has ended. This may be proven via a divorce certificate, in the case of a marriage, or a sworn statement, in the case of a de facto relationship.

No Family Relation: For the purpose of a partner visa, you cannot be related to your sponsor by blood. The rule of thumb is that you cannot marry an individual with whom you share a parent, whether biological or adoptive, or to whom you are linearly descended and vice versa.

No Sponsorship Limitation: Migration Regulations state that “[t]he Minister must not approve the sponsorship unless the Minister is satisfied”:

  • Your sponsor has not sponsored more than 1 other person for a partner visa: and
  • In the case of the previous sponsorship, five (5) years have lapsed since the date of making the application for the previous visa.

Nevertheless, the disqualifications can be waived if compelling and compassionate circumstances exist in relation to the sponsor. Such waivers are not invoked lightly. Common grounds for waiver include:

  • Where the sponsor was a victim of domestic violence in a prior relationship;
  • Where the applicant and sponsor have a dependent child together;
  • Where a previous partner has died;
  • Where a previous partner has abandoned the sponsor with a dependent child; Where the new relationship is long-standing.

No Character Issues: The Department of Home Affairs may decline the sponsorship for a partner visa application in cases where the sponsoring partner has a significant criminal history in relation to specified types and degrees of offences. Mandatory refusals may apply to perpetrators of child sex offences.

820 Visa Agents

820 Visa can be applied for whilst in Australia and a Bridging Visa will be issued upon its lodgement. If you hold a substantive visa at the time of your application, a Bridging Visa A will be issued, allowing you to switch to a Bridging Visa B to facilitate offshore travel. However, if you did not have a substantive visa at the time of application, a Bridging Visa C will alternatively be issued, where overseas travel is strictly limited.

309 Visa Agents

309 Visa can be applied for whilst the applicant is overseas, meaning they are outside Australia. Whilst this application is being decided, the applicant may apply for a visitor visa on the ground of the pending 309 visa application and travel to Australia for purposes such as meeting your partner who is residing in Australia.

Partner Visa Lawyers

Can I sponsor someone that I met and am dating online?

Parties are strictly required to have met their partner in person before applying for a partner visa, whether the 820 Visa or 309 Visa. This meeting must have occurred when both people were at least 18 years of age. The same rule applies when parties are married by proxy or looking to undertake an arranged marriage. There are no exceptions to this requirement.

Our advice is that, if you have never met in person, you should consider temporary visa options to facilitate your first meeting.

Does a Bridging Visa for the pending 820 Visa application give full working rights?

It depends on whether you held a substantive visa at the time of application. If the answer is yes, you will likely be issued a Bridging Visa A, on which you can work without restrictions. If not, you are not allowed to work unless an exemption is granted to your Bridging Visa C by the Department of Home Affairs.

Note that if you still hold a visa, your Bridging Visa A will be inactive until your current visa expires.

How long does it take for a Partner Visa to be issued?

Provisional partner visas may take up to 28 months for Subclass 820 and 22 months for Subclass 309. For up-to-date information, please refer to the Department’s website.

I am still married in the Philippines. Can I apply for a Partner Visa with my new Australian partner?

Under the Australian migration law, additional concessions exist for Filipino applicants as divorce is not permissible under the laws of the Philippines, and annulments are extremely limited in availability.

You will need to speak to our lawyers at Visa Plan to access the concession as this field is highly complex.

I currently do not have a visa. Can I apply for an 820 Visa?

Bridging visa holders and unlawful residents may apply for a partner visa, but only under extremely limited circumstances. Generally speaking, such applications can only succeed where compassionate and compelling grounds exist for the grant.

If you are unlawful or on a bridging visa, it is strongly advised that you seek professional assistance before proceeding with an expensive onshore 820 partner visa application.

I have previously been refused for a different visa. Can I apply for an 820 Visa?

If you have had a visa refused or cancelled whilst in Australia, you will be subject to a statutory bar, known as a “Section 48 Bar”, preventing lodgement of most other visa applications. Nevertheless, a partner visa is one of the few visas that can be validly applied for despite this bar.

Such an application can usually only succeed where compelling and compassionate circumstances exist. If you have had a visa refused or cancelled in Australia, we strongly recommend that you speak to a lawyer before parting from your Australian partner.

I became a victim of domestic violence when holding a Partner Visa. What can I do now?

If you or your child have been subject to family violence by your Australian partner, you do not need to remain with the perpetrator to gain permanent residency. Get out of the damaging relationship and speak to our lawyers now to secure your partner visa.

Does Australia recognize first cousin marriages?

The Australian marriage law prohibits marriage of a direct descendant to a direct ancestor, or between siblings. As such, marriages between mere cousins are acceptable for the purposes of a partner visa application.

However, it is crucial that both parties provide real consent to the marriage. Applications concerning marriages that have resulted from coercion will be refused.

Partner Visa Fees

Unlike other visas, both Provisional and Permanent Visas are applied simultaneously under the Partner Visa Program. The below charges are payable upon lodging a Provisional Visa application.


  • Plus $3,860 per additional applicant who is at least 18 years old.
  • Plus $1,935 per additional applicant who is younger than 18 years old.

In certain circumstances, partner visa applicants are eligible for concessional fees, such as holders of Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage visas.

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