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Implications of relationship ending on a Partner visa in Australia

See all articlesWhat happens if your relationship has ended and you’re on a partner visa
Partner & Family
Australian Migration Lawyer
May 6, 2024
minute read

Implications of relationship ending on a partner visa in Australia

Navigating the complexities of partner visas in Australia can be daunting, especially when faced with the uncertainty of a relationship ending unexpectedly. Partner visas are exclusively granted to genuine and committed relationships. However, we recognize that not all relationships unfold as anticipated, for various reasons. If you find yourself on a partner visa and your relationship comes to an end, it's crucial to understand your rights and options.  Our Australian Migration Lawyers understand the stress and confusion this situation can bring. That's why we're here to guide you through the implications and potential pathways forward.

The consequences of a relationship termination while holding a partner visa hinge on whether the visa is temporary or permanent, as well as the reasons behind the breakup, as recognised by the Department of Home Affairs. If the relationship breakdown aligns with one of the Department's accepted reasons, the implications may differ.

For temporary partner visas, if the relationship breakdown doesn't fall within the Department's accepted reasons, the visa holder may face the prospect of having to leave Australia unless an alternative visa is secured. Conversely, holders of permanent partner visas generally have the right to remain in Australia, irrespective of the relationship status.

It's essential to recognise your obligations regarding notifying the Department of Home Affairs about any changes to your relationship status. Failure to do so can have serious implications for your immigration status. Our team is here to provide clarity and support during this challenging time. We can help you understand your options for alternative visas and assist you in navigating the process with the Department of Home Affairs.

Introduction explaining the different partner visa types and how they impact situation

The implications of your relationship terminating depend on what visa is held:

Permanent Partner Visa (Subclass 801/100)

If you are the holder of a permanent partner visa, either subclass 309 or 100, then your right to stay in Australia is permanent. This means that it is not dependent upon your relationship continuing. Therefore, if your relationship does end you are not required to notify the Department and you can continue living in Australia. 

Temporary visa (Subclass 820/309) 

In the event that your relationship ends while holding a temporary partner visa, there's a possibility that your visa could be revoked. Your primary responsibility is to inform the Department of Home Affairs about the change in your relationship status. Below, we outline the steps to follow for notifying the Department.

Once you've informed the Department, they will provide an opportunity for you to explain your circumstances. They will then assess whether the cause of your relationship breakdown aligns with their accepted reasons. You'll need to substantiate your claim with evidence, which will undergo thorough evaluation.

Should the Department find your explanation and evidence satisfactory, you may be eligible for a permanent visa. However, if your explanation or evidence falls short of their criteria, the Department may proceed with visa cancellation proceedings, potentially resulting in your departure from Australia. It's crucial to handle this process diligently and seek professional guidance if needed.

Notification to the Department of Home Affairs

Partner visas require proof that a relationship is ‘genuine and continuing. If this changes, and your relationship is no longer genuine or continuing, then you are required to notify the Department of Home Affairs immediately. This is because without this criteria being met, then you are no longer eligible for the visa that you hold. 

There are multiple ways that you can notify the Department of your change in situation:

  • The easiest way is to complete the Notification of Relationship Cessation form in the ‘Update Details’ tab in your ImmiAccount.
  • Alternatively, you can notify them by email by submitting a Change of Circumstances form (Form 1022). 

It is important to notify the Department of the change immediately. If your relationship is proven to no longer be genuine and you have not notified the Department, then your visa may be cancelled without giving you any chance to explain your circumstances. 

Options to remain in Australia - What's the step by step process

After you have notified the Department of your change in situation, there is a possibility that you will be able to remain in Australia on a permanent visa, depending on your personal circumstances. The following circumstances may be accepted:

  1. ​you are experiencing domestic and family violence
  2. you have a child with your sponsor
  3. your partner dies.​

If one of these circumstances applies to you, then you are required to provide an explanation and evidence to the Department. After you have notified the Department of your change in circumstances, you will be given an invitation to respond - typically within a period of 28 days. Separate requirements apply for each listed category:

Domestic and family violence

If you are in danger, please call the Police on 000. They can help you in an emergency if your life is in danger. You can also call 1800RESPECT for free, over the phone counselling services. Domestic and family violence is a matter that is taken very seriously and ensuring your safety is a matter of first priority. It is important to clarify, your partner can not cancel your visa, even if they threaten it. 

If you are safe, and under no immediate risk of harm, but you have been the victim of domestic or family violence, then you may notify the Department of the change in your relationship status.You will be asked to  provide evidence of your circumstances. Domestic and family violence does not have to be physical violence, but includes any behaviour that places you in fear of you or your family’s safety. The following list provides some examples of family violence:

Physical abuse:

Physical violence is any violent behaviour or threats of violence.

It can include:

  • hitting, punching, pulling by the hair, choking, pinching, pushing, stabbing, or restraining you in any way (physical injuries are often directed at parts of the body that other people will not see)
  • using weapons to frighten you
  • causing damage to property
  • not letting you sleep, eat, or take your medication.

Sexual abuse:

Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity.

It can include:

  • forcing you to have intercourse when you do not want to (either with your partner or other people)
  • making you engage in sexual practices or acts you are not comfortable with (either with your partner or other people)
  • making you wear clothes you are not comfortable with
  • making you watch sexual acts you do not want to, including on digital devices.

Verbal abuse or emotional abuse:

Emotional abuse is any behaviour that makes you feel worthless and put down.

It can include:

  • threatening your life, or that of your family or pets
  • calling you abusive or insulting names or names that are culturally offensive
  • harassing or threatening you
  • saying things to frighten you, for example telling you that the children will live with him/her if you leave
  • undermining you as a parent in front of the children
  • threatening you with respect to immigration status or deportation
  • coercive control, which is patterns of behaviour that seek to isolate, manipulate, and control your everyday life.

Social abuse:

Social abuse is behaviour that aims to cut you off from your family, friends, or community.

It can include:

  • insulting you in public and in front of community members
  • not letting you attend community events
  • not letting you use community organisation, programs, and/or services
  • putting you down in front of others
  • lying to others about you
  • isolating you from your community and family
  • isolating you from those people who do support you
  • not letting you visit a doctor on your own
  • controlling your life; not letting you have a life outside the home
  • tracking and monitoring movements and social interactions, including using devices and social media.

Financial abuse:

Financial abuse is behaviour limiting your access to money.

It can include:

  • controlling the money so you are dependent on them
  • forcing you to sign for loans or contracts
  • questioning you about purchases you make or where you spend your money
  • only giving you money for purchases they agree to or requiring receipts or proof of purchases for items
  • using joint finances for personal use against your wishes or without your knowledge
  • incurring debts which you are also responsible for
  • incurring fines in your name – including speeding, toll roads, parking fines and so forth
  • not allowing you to work so you are unable to have an income of your own
  • dowry-related abuse – including claiming dowry was not paid and coercive demands for further money or gifts.

After submitting the change in circumstances form online for your Partner visa and sponsorship application, your partner will be automatically disconnected from all of your ImmiAccounts. This includes detachment from both your former partner's and migration agent's accounts, prioritising your safety and privacy.

The form will prompt you to indicate the cessation date of your relationship with your partner. Additionally, it will inquire whether you have encountered family violence or have children with your sponsor. If both circumstances are applicable to your situation, it is crucial to select both the family violence and children of relationship options on the form. This step ensures that your application is promptly removed, as selection of the family violence option alone triggers the automatic removal.

It is advisable to create a new ImmiAccount, using an email address inaccessible to your former partner. Subsequently, we will reach out to facilitate the transfer of your application to your new ImmiAccount. We will require your new ImmiAccount username and email address for this purpose. 

When asked to provide an explanation of your reason for separation, you will then be required to submit evidence of the violence. Various types of evidence, such as medical reports and police records, can be utilised to support claims of family violence, each requiring specific details and identification of the alleged perpetrator. Professionals like social workers and psychologists may also provide evidence, assessing the consistency of claims and identifying perpetrators. Education professionals can offer observations aligned with the victim's claims, highlighting details and identifying alleged perpetrators to strengthen the case.

If the Department is satisfied with the information that you have provided, then you may still be eligible for a permanent visa. 

For onshore Subclass 820 Visa applicants or holders, establishing a claim of domestic violence may lead to the grant of Permanent Partner Subclass 801 visa. However, for offshore Subclass 309 applicants awaiting visa approval, even with a domestic violence claim, the visa won't be granted until Subclass 309 is approved. Similarly, holders of Subclass 309 visas in Australia awaiting the Permanent Partner Visa – Subclass 100 may be granted the visa upon establishing a domestic violence claim.

You have a child with your sponsor

If you have had a child with your sponsor, but your relationship is no longer continuing, you may still be eligible for Permanent residence in Australia. To qualify under this category, you must have parental responsibility for at least one child under 18 years of age. Additionally, you will need to provide evidence that the applicant is the parent of the child. This may be in the form of a birth certificate, or any family court orders that concern the child. If the Department accepts your evidence, you may be granted a permanent residence. 

Your partner dies

If the partner that sponsors your visa has passed away, you may still be eligible for permanent residence. However, you will need to demonstrate that your relationship would have continued if they were still alive. You will also need to supply evidence of the death via a death certificate. It is important to notify the Department of the death as soon as possible. 


Possible visa cancellation

If your relationship is no longer ‘genuine and continuing’ then there is a possibility that your visa may be cancelled. As explained above, there are a number of reasons that permit temporary visa holders to continue on their path to attain permanent residence, even after their relationship has broken down. However, whilst these circumstances can be common, they do not apply to everyone. If your circumstances do not meet the exempt criteria, then it is unlikely that you will be able to retain your temporary visa and you may be asked to:

  • Apply for a new visa 
  • Or make travel plans to leave Australia. 

If you believe that your application was incorrectly decided, you might be able to seek review of the decision at Australia’s administrative review tribunal or further, at the Federal Court. It is imperative to engage an Australian Migration Lawyer through this process.  

Applying for a different visa

In the event that your partner visa is cancelled, and you are not eligible for a permanent partner visa under one of the categories listed above, you may seek to apply for a different visa. It is not uncommon for applicants to do this as many have established a meaningful life in Australia and do not seek to return to their home country. Some of the visa options you may consider applying for include: 

  • Student visas 
  • Skilled migrant visa 
  • Working holiday visa 
  • Protection visa

Once you have applied for a different visa, you will be granted a bridging visa that will allow you to remain in Australia until your application has been considered. 

Seek legal advice if your relationship has ended and you’re on a partner visa

If your relationship has ended and you hold a partner visa, it is important to seek legal advice. It is not uncommon for people to notify the Department that your relationship has ended without your knowledge. Resultantly, you may be caught unaware when the Department may then issue you a letter asking for you to explain your circumstances. There are tight time frames in which you are required to respond to these requests, and failure to comply may result in visa cancellation. Engaging a lawyer will ensure that the information you provide is satisfactory to meet the Department’s standards and give you the best chance possible of retaining your visa. 

Engaging an Australian Migration Lawyer is invaluable when your relationship ends while holding a partner visa. Our team will provide expertise in immigration law, offer tailored advice, assist with documentation preparation, and represent you in communications with immigration authorities. With our support, you can navigate visa requirements effectively, increasing your chances of retaining your visa and alleviating stress throughout the process.


Book consultation

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


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