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Temporary vs permanent partner visas

See all articlesTemporary vs permanent partner visas
Partner & Family
Australian Migration Lawyer
February 7, 2024
minute read

Is a partner visa a temporary visa?

When it comes to partner visas, things can get a little confusing. We’re here to help iron out a few of the most common questions people have relating to partner visas.

In contrast to tourist or student visas, the Australian partner visa process offers a pathway to permanent residency (PR), with a considerably more rigorous assessment process than temporary visa applications. Because permanent residency can be obtained through the partner visa route without specific skills or qualifications, some individuals engage in fraudulent relationships, commonly known as 'sham marriages' in popular media. Perpetrators of visa fraud often exert significant effort to gather supporting evidence, complicating the government's ability to differentiate between genuine relationships and those seeking residency through deceitful means. Consequently, numerous partner visa applications are declined, with government data indicating that up to 42% of such applications have faced initial refusal in recent years. In the event of an initial refusal, applicants have the option to appeal to Australia's administrative review tribunal, with over 1,000 couples annually successfully overturning refusals by substantiating the authenticity of their relationship. However, it's crucial to recognize that if your partner visa application is declined, you may encounter a waiting period of up to two years for the administrative review tribunal to schedule a hearing, evaluate your evidence, and adjudicate your appeal. Given these complexities, it is advisable to engage an Australian Migration Lawyer to meticulously prepare a robust application from the outset.

The first thing to know about the journey to obtaining a partner visa is that there are essentially two stages to the process: the temporary partner visa (subclass 820 or 309) and the permanent partner visa (subclass 801 or 100).

Understanding the nature and requirements of these different visas will help you comprehend where you’re at in your journey.

At Australian Migration Lawyers, we can help take out the stress of the process and assist you with all types of partner visas.


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


The temporary partner visa (Subclass 820 or 309)

The temporary partner visa subclass (820 or 309) is, as the name suggests, a temporary visa. This visa is granted to individuals in a de facto relationship or married to an Australian citizen, an eligible New Zealand citizen, or an Australian permanent resident.

The first stage towards gaining permanent residency in Australia is to obtain a temporary partner visa. It permits you to live, work, and study in Australia until your permanent partner visa (subclass 801 or 100) is approved. As a holder of a subclass (820 or 309) visa, you will have access to Medicare, Australia's national health insurance scheme.

Granting of temporary visas

The Department of Home Affairs grants temporary partner visas (Subclass 820 or 309) based on several factors. You might have heard of the following examples, but if not, they assess the genuineness of the relationship through evidence provided about the couple's shared life, including financial aspects, nature of the household, social aspects, and the couple's commitment. If these aspects satisfactorily demonstrate a genuine and continuing relationship, the temporary visa may be granted.

Cancellation of temporary visas

A temporary partner visa could be cancelled if the Department of Home Affairs becomes aware that the information provided during the application was false or misleading, or if the relationship ends before the permanent visa (Subclass 801 or 100) is granted.

Nevertheless, the visa might not be cancelled in certain circumstances, like in the event of relationship breakdown where there is a child of the relationship, or if the visa holder or a member of their family has suffered family violence committed by the sponsoring partner.

In case of family violence

Australia has regulations in place to protect visa applicants who experience family violence. If the relationship ends due to family violence, and the visa holder or a member of their family has suffered this violence committed by the sponsoring partner, the temporary visa should not be cancelled. The visa holder may still be eligible to apply for the permanent partner visa. It is important that you consult with AML to discuss your case.

Where the sponsoring partner dies

If the sponsoring partner dies while the temporary visa holder is awaiting the decision on the permanent visa, the visa holder may still be eligible for the grant of a permanent visa. This depends on the nature of the relationship before the death of the sponsoring partner, whether the applicant meets health and character requirements, and if the applicant would have continued to be the partner of the sponsoring partner if the sponsoring partner had not died.

The journey towards a permanent visa

After obtaining a (Subclass 820 or 309) temporary partner visa, the journey continues. This is the initial step towards achieving your objective of becoming a permanent resident of Australia.

As mentioned above, to ensure the legitimacy of relationship claims, the Australian government has essentially established two phases for partner visas. The first phase was obtaining a temporary visa. Now it’s time to apply for a permanent partner visa.

How it works is that two years after you submitted your initial application for a partner visa, you will be required to provide additional evidence of the ongoing nature of your relationship, leading to the second phase, the subclass (801 or 100) partner visa.


Permanent partner visa (Subclass 801 or 100)

The permanent partner visa (subclass 801 or 100) is granted after the temporary partner visa requirements have been satisfied. Once granted, the ongoing residency allows you to remain in Australia indefinitely as a permanent resident. Additionally, it offers a path to Australian citizenship.

As a permanent resident, you enjoy the majority of rights and privileges granted to Australian citizens. These include access to free or subsidised legal and health services, the ability to apply for Australian citizenship and eligibility for social security benefits.


The application process for a partner visa begins with a temporary visa, progresses to a permanent visa, and could end with Australian citizenship. It's a long process that requires commitment and patience. There may be times when a bridging visa is required while you wait for a partner visa application to be granted.

Whether your relationship is recognised through marriage or de facto partner status, the visa process will ultimately lead to a lasting connection with Australia.

This journey may appear difficult, but keep in mind that countless others have gone down this path before you. With patience, planning, and guidance, you too can successfully navigate this path. Know that the ultimate objective – becoming a permanent resident or an Australian citizen – is within reach, regardless of where you are in the process.

Remember that visa conditions and eligibility can vary based on individual circumstances. It is advisable to consult with an immigration lawyer to get accurate information that's specific to one's situation.

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