Partner Visa Changes on Sponsorship

The Commonwealth government has announced that it plans to introduce legislative changes that will mean that a partner visa sponsor must be approved before a person can lodge a partner visa application. Current processing times for a partner visa is now about two years. It is unclear how long the Department of Home Affairs will take to process a sponsorship application. Anyone considering a partner visa application in the near future is advised to take immediate steps to prepare their visa application.

The effect of a Domestic Violence Order for a partner visa sponsor

The applicants of partner visa or subclass 820 visa have always had an obligation to provide the department with a background police check from any country they have lived for 12 months or more.[1] The sponsor of a partner visa sub-class 820 must complete form 40 as the process of the application.[2]

Form 40 requires the sponsor to provide the department with ‘Australian Federal Police (AFP) National Police Check and/or foreign police certificate(s) as part of the process of assessing the application’[3]. The sponsor must disclose to the visa applicant if the police clearance letter contains ‘relevant offences’. Relevant offences include the acts of violence in the past[4].

The announcements, when enacted, will extend the sponsorship framework and impose obligation in relation to sponsored visas, particularly to reduce family violence in the context of partner visas.

The changes will impose strict obligations on the sponsor to provide for the partner they are sponsoring. The new obligations will include paying prescribed medical, hospital, or other health-related expenses incurred by a visa holder or a former visa holder. If the approved sponsor does not meet the required obligations, they will be subject to strict penalties.

The new framework will give the department the authority to share the personal information to the applicants involved in the application and provide that information to other relative departments if required. The new requirements help reduce the risk of people being a victim of domestic violence. This is especially the case they are in a vulnerable situation and do not have the support of other family members from their home country.

Effect of Domestic Violence Order when applying for a visa in Australia

In order to receive almost any Australian visa as a non-citizen, the applicant must pass the Public Interest Criteria 4001 or PIC 4001. PIC 4001 means the applicant must satisfy the minister that they are of good character and will not be a threat to Australian society.[5]

In March 2019 the minister introduced new Ministerial Direction No. 79 that is designed to keep the individuals out of Australia who may have committed violence against women in Australia or elsewhere.[6]

The direction imposes an obligation on the decision-makers to revoke or cancel the visa application of individuals with such record for the best interest of the Australian community.[7]

The visa applicant must be able to satisfy decision-makers that they will not be contribute to violence against women or other members of the Australian community.[8] If an applicant has a Domestic Violence Order against them, the evidentiary burden to demonstrate good character to overcome the domestic violence order (DVO) would be substantial. A DVO is likely to result in revocation of their visa or a refusal of their visa application. People that commit violence against others have no place in Australian Society.

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[1] Migration Regulations 1994, Subclass 820- partner [3].
[2] Ibid.
[3] Form 40SP- Sponsorship for partner to migrate to Australia.
[4] Migration Regulations 1994, Division 1.4, Form 40 sponsors and sponsorship [schedule 1 or 2 requirements].
[5] Migration Regulations 1994, Schedule 4- Public Interest Criteria and related provisions [Part 1-4]
[6] Migration Act 1958 (Cth), Direction No 79, Visa Refusal and Cancellation under s501.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.


Author: Sed Crest

Directors: Sophie Pearson

Date Updated: 26 April 2019