guide to partner visas

A Guide to Partner Visas

You and your partner are planning to start your life together in Australia permanently. Which means it’s time to think about visas and permanent residency. If you are in a long-term romantic relationship, a Partner visa could be the perfect migration option for you. But what is a Partner Visa? How does it work? And what are the requirements? Find out, in our guide to Partner Visas below.

What is a Partner Visa?

A Partner Visa is a type of visa that allows the partner or spouse of an Australian citizen or permanent resident to live permanently in Australia. It’s a visa for couples in a genuine and continuing relationship, looking to start or continue their life together in Australia.

If you are granted a permanent Partner Visa, then you will become a permanent resident of Australia. This means you will have full work rights in Australia, and be able to access services such as Medicare.

What are the requirements for a Partner Visa?

To apply for a Partner Visa, your partner must be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen.

As well as this, you and your partner meet one of the following criteria:


You and your partner must be in a marriage that is valid under Australian law. This now includes same-sex marriages.

In a De Facto Relationship

You don’t have to be married to be eligible for a Partner visa. If you and your partner are in a de facto relationship, you can apply for a De Facto Partner Visa.

To apply for a De Facto Partner Visa, you and your partner must have been in a de facto relationship for at least 12 months, or you must meet the requirements for an exemption. Exemptions include compelling and compassionate circumstances or the registration of your relationship under state law.

Do my partner and I meet the requirements for a de facto relationship?

To prove that you are in a de facto relationship, you are your partner will need to meet the following criteria:

  • You have a genuine, and continuing relationship
  • You are committed to a shared life, to the exclusion of all others
  • You live together, or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis
  • You are not related by family

Does this mean we have to live together?

It is expected that you and your partner will have physically lived together at some time since committing to your relationship. However, Australian migration policy does recognise that couples may be physically apart for periods of time, yet remain in a genuine and continuing relationship.

When assessing your visa, the Department will consider whether and how long you lived together, but it will also consider other factors such as your relationship history, whether you share finances, the nature of your household, and your commitment to each other.

If you’re in a de facto relationship, we recommend you talk to a migration agent, who can help you make sure your relationship meets the requirements.

What are Onshore and Offshore Partner Visas?

When you apply for a Partner Visa, you can choose whether to apply for an Onshore Partner Visa, or an Offshore Partner Visa.

An Onshore Partner Visa allows you to stay in Australia while your Partner Visa is being processed. To apply for this kind of visa, you must be in Australia when you lodge your application, and when a decision on your Partner Visa is made.

If you are unable to apply for your Partner Visa while in Australia, you can apply for an Offshore Partner Visa. You must be outside Australia when you apply for the visa, and also when the visa is granted.

See our blog post on the difference between Onshore and Offshore Partner Visas.

What do I do while I’m waiting for my Partner Visa application to be processed?

Partner Visa applications can often take up to two years to process.

If you applied for a Partner Visa onshore and your current visa expires, you will be granted a bridging visa while your application is being considered. This bridging visa will allow you to stay in Australia. You can then apply for additional rights, such as the right to work and to travel outside the country (and be able to return!).

If you applied for a Partner Visa offshore, you will need to be offshore when the visa is granted. You can visit Australia during processing, but you will need to enter Australia on a different visa, such as a tourist visa. Visiting Australia can be a risk, as you never know when your visa processing will conclude.

What’s the difference between a temporary Partner Visa, and permanent Partner Visa?

Getting a permanent Partner Visa is a two stage process. To be eligible for a permanent Partner Visa, you must first be granted a temporary Partner Visa. You apply for both Partner Visas at the same time, and pay only one fee.

If you are granted a temporary Partner Visa, you can then be assessed for a permanent Partner Visa two years after you lodged you application. You may need to provide further documents for this assessment or attend an interview with the Department of Home Affairs.

The requirements for a temporary and permanent Partner Visa are very similar. To move from a temporary to permanent Partner Visa, you will need to continue to be in the same relationship as your initial application, and have complied with all Australian laws while on your temporary visa.

If you are in a long term relationship with your partner (of more than three years, or two if you have a child together), your permanent Partner visa may be granted immediately after your temporary visa, without the two year wait.

Can I include my children in my Partner Visa?

You can include dependent children or stepchildren in your Partner Visa application.

Children under 18 years can usually be easily added to your Partner Visa application, although an additional processing cost is charged per child. They can be added before or after your application. Children can also be added to your temporary Partner Visa, once granted, but they will need a valid visa that will allow them to stay in, or come to, Australia until your permanent Partner Visa is granted.

If your children are 18 years or older, they can be included in your application if you can show they are financially dependent on you.

How can a Migration Agent help me with my Partner Visa?

Knowing when and where to apply for a Partner Visa can be tricky. If you are in a de facto relationship, it can also be difficult for you to assess whether you meet the visa requirements.

A migration agent can draft your application to give you the best chance of success, and make sure no departmental requirements are overlooked. They can also help you apply in a way that best meets your lifestyle goals while waiting for your visa to be granted, including living in Australia, working, or studying.

About us

PocketLegal is available to assist with all aspects of the Australian immigration process from beginning to end. If you need help with visa applications, sponsoring staff members, AAT Appeals, Federal Circuit Court hearings, or any other migration related issue then contact our friendly team via the form on this page or by calling 1300 921 114.

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