Changes have been made to the Australian partner visa application rules.
14 September 2009
Partners can now stay when applying for Australia visa
Foreign nationals whose temporary Australian visas have expired and who are in a relationship with an Australian citizen or resident no longer have to leave the country to apply for an Australia visa.
Previously the law required a foreign partner applying for an Australian partner visa to go offshore while awaiting a decision from the Australian Immigration department. This requirement was to prevent people from remaining in Australia and continuously applying for Australian visas after an application has been refused or a visa has been cancelled or expired.
Now, couples no longer face a separation and the foreign partner is permitted to remain in the country while their application for an Australian visa is considered. However, the changes will not apply to people who have previously been refused a partner visa since their last entry into Australia, or who have had an Australian visa cancelled or refused on character grounds.
Those applying for the Australian partner visa will need a sponsorship form signed by their partner and supporting statutory declarations from two other Australians.
A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the reason behind the immigration law change was that the practice was affecting Australians because they faced a potentially long separation from their partners.
"Previously these sorts of cases could only be resolved in Australia by seeking ministerial intervention or by leaving Australia and applying offshore, which effectively splits families," he said.
Figures show that up to 30 per cent of all cases presented to the minister for intervention involved people in that situation.
Immigration experts have welcomed the change but say the changes need to go further and also apply to those who have family in Australia but not a partner.
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their Australia visa applications.