Success! Over two years, hundreds of documents and $8000 later we have the Australian partner visa granted. It’s the most expensive and time consuming visa in the world. Processing times vary, but they say to expect at least 24 months total.
Some people opt to hire an agency or lawyer to help with their application, in case the $8000 payment is in vain. Hiring another person to do it will set you back a further $8000 on average. I’ve met people who’ve somehow forked out $16,000 with the hope that their loved one can stay with them in Australia.
This doesn’t include any additional costs, such as mandatory health checks, police checks, translation of documents and more. As soon as companies in Australia hear that you need a document translated for the visa they will charge you about $50 per page!
It can be so frustrating and overwhelming if you’re an Australian who falls in love with someone from another country (and vice versa). All you want to do is be together only to be barraged with paperwork and bureaucracy.
I’ve decided to break down the different challenges of this visa into my four main ones. In the hope that it can help you too.
For me, the first and one of the biggest barriers is the cost of the Australian partner visa. To get the ball rolling you need to pay a one off cost of about $8000. This will open your application and the government will grant you a bridging visa while awaiting their investigation.
There are added costs along the way that will total a few hundred dollars. A wedding and marriage license costs money too (about $500). If you choose to get a professional to help with your application that will set you back another $8000 on average.
We didn’t have the money. In fact we were already in the red when we applied. We didn’t have relatives that could pay for us or inheritance. So how did we do it?
Luckily I had two credit cards, and I maxed both of them out to afford it. Then I waited tables for a few months. Putting almost all my pay into the monthly repayments. The nature of the partner visa is that your partner can’t work until the bridging visa is approved. So you need to try afford things on a one person salary.
After a few months of waiting tables I got a full time job that paid better and kept hustling. Ten months later we paid it all off!
Don’t be discouraged if the amount seems like a lot, you can work it out. If you do all the paper work yourself you can save on money too, we did it all on our own.
Besides the cost, the partner visa takes time! Processing times are one of the longest in the world. It takes a minimum of two years to have the application approved.
The waiting can make you feel like you’re in a cruel limbo. When will it end? Will they say yes?
It can feel like your life is on hold for years without the promise that you’ll have success. When they reopen your application after 24 months and ask for a new submission and more documents it’s so frustrating. But patience is a virtue and eventually we did succeed.
Take a breath, it’s worth it in the end.
Effort (paper work and the proof)
We didn’t have the money to pay for a professional to do the application for us. At first we were concerned about whether they would view our application negatively if it wasn’t through an agency, but that wasn’t the case.
Anyone can do the application process successfully, you just need to be organised and methodical. It takes effort and a bit of research, but you can do it.
You need proof that you’re a relationship, that people recognise your relationship, your identities, who makes up your family unit, and your commitment to each other. This means a whole lot of scanning passports, ID cards, marriage license, certain government documents, friend’s testimonies, statutory declarations, social media posts, mail, rent payments, lease contracts, joint bank accounts, joint wedding invitations, evidence of mutual interests, aeroplane tickets, joint purchases, utility bills and more.
Basically whatever proves you are together can be used.
The application must be submitted before you start uploading documents. You have a few weeks to upload things before they begin to review it. The immigration website has headings that you can file documents under to be structured, but I found giving more information than asked was the best for us.
Better more information than not enough right?
There is a bit of fear mongering when you search about partner visas online. This is because it is a business. People are making money off couples trying to stay together. They will make it seem like you won’t be accepted if you don’t pay a professional to do it.
This is not true!
Don’t play into their games. Keep in mind that those websites are trying to sell you something. You don’t really need them. If you have the funds to pay someone, it will free you time and effort, but please select carefully. Some agencies have scammed people and run off with the money, so be wary of this!
Step by step – how to apply
I put our own timeline here to give you an idea.
Eligibility/getting to Australia
You need to be in Australia and either the partner of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible NZ citizen. To apply within Australia you must be on an eligible visa (can be tourist)
De facto or get married
Live with each other for 12 months (de facto) or apply to get married (takes 1 month)
Apply for temporary partner visa (subclass 820)
Once married or de facto you must first apply for the temporary visa and pay a one off fee of about $8000
Temporary partner visa (subclass 820)
Make an immi account and start your new application. You can submit and then upload documents afterwards
Gather your documents
Make a folder on your computer and in real life to gather and organise your many documents. Make sure you follow the instructions and information online. The home affairs website has info on this. Scan, upload then submit
You must get a health check by an approved clinic – this can involve blood work and a chest xray. Your immi account will provide more details
Within a few days of applying you should get your bridging visa. This lets you stay in Australia until your visa application is processed. You can work and have a temporary medicare card. You can’t leave Australia
Temporary partner visa granted!
It can take 5-34 months. Ours took six. You’ll receive an email saying it’s granted. You can now work, study, have medicare and travel outside of Australia
You now need to wait 2 years until you can apply for the permanent visa… Keep gathering your evidence in the mean time!
Permanent partner visa (subclass 801)
Once 2 years have passed you will be asked to submit your permanent partner visa. Wow. It can feel annoying to have to redo it all again…but you’re so close now
No further payments needed. Your one off payment of $8000 covers it all. Submit your application and upload more evidence. Including an AFP police check for your partner
Time to wait some more. They’ll now process your permanent partner visa application. This can take up to 16 months. It’s usually faster if you’ve been together for longer
More documents ! Again!?
Don’t be alarmed if you get asked for more documents. It’s common. Just upload what they ask of you and wait some more…you’ve come this far
Permanent partner visa granted! (subclass 801)
Success! You’ll get an inconspicuous email saying that it’s been granted one day. Ours took 3 months. Now you’re officially a permanent resident. You can work, study, get a permanent medicare card and travel out of Australia for 5 years
Becoming an Australian citizen
The next step? To become an Australian citizen you need to have lived in Australia for 4 years and be an Australian permanent resident for 12 months. Plus you must sit the citizenship test and pay $490. Processing time can take 24 months