Last week’s Australian Budget announcement included proposed changes to the immigration law concerning non-citizens looking to apply for an Australian partner visa.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at exactly what the proposed legislation for partners is, what the new requirements are for those looking to secure a permanent visa in Australia and the possible timelines hopeful applicants need to be aware of.
The New Legislation For Migrants Applying For An Australian Partner Visa
During the federal budget speech last week Tuesday, the Australian government revealed it will require foreign partners of Australian citizens to pass an English language test before gaining a permanent visa.
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said that the proposed test would also be applicable to an applicant’s spouse if they are a permanent resident as opposed to a native citizen.
“What this will mean is that we will require an applicant and a sponsor to have met functional level English or to have at least made reasonable efforts to learn English.”
“This will apply to prospective partner visa applications, from about the middle of next year,” Mr Trudge said.
What Are The New English Language Requirements?
According to Mr Trudge, “making reasonable efforts” means that foreign migrants will need to complete 500 hours of English classes in order to prove proficiency in Australia’s native language.
The Adult Migrant English Program has seen an overhaul of late, which now gives migrants unbridled access to unlimited English classes for free.
Mr Trudge went on to say that hopeful applicants are able to prove their language ability by showing that they attended an English-language school or passed an English-language speaking test, but did not specify as to which test that would be.
Applicants will still be able to arrive on a temporary visa but will need to learn English in order to gain a permanent visa.
How Do Australian Partner Visas Work?
So far, the 2020-21 permanent migration program has allocated 72,300 places for partner visas, an increase from 37,118 last year.
There are a number of different “family visas” for partners that one can apply for, of which spouses or de facto partners of Australian citizens or permanent residents (subclass 820, 801, 309 and 100) are a few.
Right now, the partner of an Australian citizen can either apply for an Australian partner visa onshore or offshore.
*Those who are applying onshore will be prioritised for Australia’s permanent residency visa.
Those that lodge the application onshore are eligible for a bridging or temporary visa (subclass 820) to remain in-country during the processing time.
Typically, applicants are subject to processing times of up to 26 months, whilst those who apply offshore will have to wait out this period in their home countries.
The fees associated with an application of this nature are usually in excess of $7000.
The Future of Migration of Partners to Australia
2020 has clearly been a year where most plans have been thrown out of the proverbial window, with forecasts that Australia will see its first drop in net overseas migration since World War Two.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic having effectively shutdown most parts of the world in 2020, it is however still 100% possible to apply for an Australian visa with some important things to be aware of.
Processing times have obviously been impacted by the situation, and it is for this very reason that we encourage all applicants to start the process much earlier than they ordinarily would.
If you are serious about applying for a partner visa, you should get professional advice from a registered migration agent or lawyer about the visa criteria that apply to your unique situation.