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How long does it take to process an Australian Partner visa?

See all articlesPartner visa processing time
Partner & Family
Australian Migration Lawyer
July 31, 2023
minute read

Understanding the factors that impact processing times.

Are you considering applying for an Australian Partner visa and wondering how long the process will take? Look no further. In this comprehensive piece, we will delve into the factors that impact the processing times of Australian Partner visas, providing you with valuable insights and guidance to help you navigate the application process with confidence.

No matter what stage you are at in your Australian Partner Visa process, we can help you create a complete and robust application to give you the best chance of approval. Contact Australian Migration Lawyers about your Australian Partner visa application now.

Firstly, what is a Partner visa?

A Partner visa enables Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents or an eligible New Zealand citizen to sponsor their foreign partner to become an Australian permanent resident. As a permanent resident, you can live, work and travel in and out of Australia without restriction. You can also access Medicare and are eligible for domestic fees across Australian education institutions. Permanent residents can also apply for Australian citizenship after two years. 

How do I know if I’m eligible for a Partner visa?

You can apply for a partner visa if you and your sponsoring Australian partner are ‘spouses’ or are in a ‘de facto relationship’. These are terms of art, so they are specifically defined in migration legislation to mean the following: 

  • Spouse = married 
  • De facto partner = have cohabited for at least 12 months or are living separately on a permanent basis. 

Some exceptions apply so please contact us to discuss your options if your relationship does not fit within the definitions. 

You do not have to be in Australia at the time of application. Those already living in Australia on another temporary visa, can apply for the onshore partner visa (subclass 820, 801) and those living offshore, can apply for an offshore partner visa (subclass 309, 100). 

If an applicant and their Australian partner are engaged, and the applicant is offshore, they have the option of applying for a Prospective Marriage Visa. 

What if I’m migrating with children?

Partner visa applicants can attach their dependent children to their partner visa application. Dependent children will usually be granted a Dependent Child visa while their parent’s permanent visa application is being processed. 

Once a partner visa-applicant has been granted permanent residency, they can sponsor dependent children in their own right.

Understanding the two-part Partner visa process

The process of applying for a Partner visa occurs in two stages. The first is the temporary partner visa (subclass 820) or provisional partner visa (subclass 309) stage, and the second is the permanent partner visa stage. 

The first stage is significantly more involved than the second stage. During the first stage, applicants must prove to the Department that they are in a genuine and continuing relationship. The Department looks at four key criteria in making its decision: 

  1. The nature of the household
  2. Financial aspect of the relationship 
  3. Nature of the commitment 
  4. Social aspect of the relationship

If the Department is satisfied that an applicant and their sponsoring Australian partner are in a genuine and continuing relationship, they will grant the applicant a ‘temporary’ (subclass 820) or ‘provisional’ (subclass 309) partner visa. This visa allows the applicant to live, work and travel, but for all intents and purposes, the applicant is still considered a temporary visa-holder. Two years from the date of lodging the application, the temporary partner visa-holder becomes eligible to apply for a permanent partner visa – this is stage two. 

The second stage requires the temporary partner visa-holder and the sponsor to show the Department that their relationship is continuing. If satisfied, the Department will grant a permanent partner visa (subclass 801 or 100, for onshore and offshore initial applications, respectively). 


Free consultation

If you are interested in getting more information about a Partner visa, get in touch with Australian Migration Lawyers for a free consultation.


What factors impact Partner visa processing times?

Partner visa applications are processed by case officers at the Department of Home Affairs, who are currently working through thousands of partner visa applications. This backlog is the key factor that can impact the processing time of a partner visa application. 

Generally, the more complete your application is at the time of lodgement, the shorter the processing time as this reduces the number of times a case officer has to request and review information from the applicant and sponsor.

Typically, permanent partner visas process faster than temporary partner visa applications given the difference in evidentiary requirements between the two applications. 

Processing duration: A general estimate

The processing times of Partner visas differ depending on whether you choose to apply onshore or offshore. The Department of Home Affairs currently estimates that onshore partner visa applications can take anywhere between 3 to 9 months to process, and offshore applications can take between 5 months to 8 years. In our experience, with our support, a comprehensive application can be processed more efficiently.

Your source of official information

The Department of Home Affairs is the primary source of official, up-to-date information regarding Australian partner visas. For the most current processing times, please refer to the official Department website

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