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4-Minute Summary: Upcoming Partner Visa Changes

You may have been hearing about upcoming changes to Australian Partner visas.

"What are these Partner Visa changes?", "When is it happening?"...There's a lot of confusion online, so we are to give you a ✅ 4-minute summary of everything you need to know so far and ✅ recommendations by our Principal Migration Agent and former-Immigration Officer, Tony.


When are the Partner visa changes coming?

In October 2020, as part of the 2020 - 2021 Federal Budget, it was announced that Partner visa applications will become a two-stage process, with new English language requirements, and mandatory character checks for the sponsor. One year after first introducing the changes, Immigration has indicated to our leading industry body, Migration Institute Australia, that the new legislated changes to Partner visas would likely take place in November 2021

Important note: Immigration have not yet announced an exact date for these changes. However, the legislative framework is already in place, so Immigration can technically implement these changes at anytime, even tomorrow.

Why is there so much confusion about when the upcoming Partner Visa changes are actually happening? In the original announcements, it was said that English requirements would be in place "from late-2021", whilst a subsequent ABC news article quoted "middle of the year (2021)". Even now, Immigration has not yet announced an exact date.


Could you apply before November?

Find out in your free 1-to-1 consultation with our Partner Visa experts 👇


What are the upcoming Partner visa changes?

💡 The upcoming changes affects the Subclass 820/801 and Subclass 309/100 onshore and offshore Partner visas. It does not affect the Subclass 300 Prospective Marriage visa.

So far, Immigration has only confirmed the legislative framework (aka the laws - you can think of this as the the overarching principles) of the changes. They have not yet released the regulations (aka the details on how this will work).

Here is everything we know so far.

A Summary Table: Upcoming Changes to Partner Visas

(see below for details)

Summary Table

Right Now

From November 2021 *

Application Process

Standard visa application

​Sponsorship application


Visa application

Main Requirements

4 relationship criteria

English fluency

(for both applicants & non-citizen sponsors)


4 relationship criteria



~$420 (sponsorship application) *


$7,850 (visa application)

Total = ~$8,270 *

Processing Time

​15 - 28 months

(as fast as 2 - 6 months)

4 - 12 weeks (sponsorship application) *


15 - 28 months (partner visa)​

* Please note: Immigration have not yet confirmed the timing and fee for the new sponsorship application. As no applications have been lodged under these new changes, average processing time is not yet available. These figures in blue are a prediction based on the similar, 2-stage subclass 870 Parent visa application.

1. Two - Part Application Process

Currently, the sponsorship of a Partner visa is granted as part of the visa application process.

In other words, the applicant can apply directly for the 820 or 309 Partner visas, without the sponsor having to lodge any application themselves.

Once the changes are implemented, sponsors will need to lodge a separate application, which must be approved before you can lodge a Partner visa application

2. English Language Requirements

Currently there are no English requirements for applicants or the sponsors. Once the changes are implemented, all applicants and sponsors who aren't Australian citizens will have to prove the English fluency in order to get the permanent visa.

English fluency can be proved either with:

  1. An English test (such as IELTS) showing you have functional level English; OR

  2. Demonstration that you "have made reasonable efforts to learn English" (such as 500 hours of Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) classes)

💡 When will this matter? Before you panic too much, this English requirement needs to be met "at the time of the granting of the permanent visa" (801/100 visas). This means:

  • You can apply for, and be granted, the temporary 820 or 309 visas BEFORE meeting Functional English requirement

  • But, when Immigration is ready to grant you the permanent 801 or 100 visas, after 2 years usually, you will need to have met it then

  • You can also take the AMEP classes while on your 820 and 309 visas.

3. Other


What does this mean for you?

💡 Comments from our Principal Migration Agent:

This really changes things for Partner visa applicants, particularly those who have a specific deadline to apply for the visa (e.g. visa expiry).

To sum it up, Partner visas are becoming a longer, more expensive process with stricter requirements. We don't usually rush people to apply earlier, but in this case, we do recommend those who have strong applications to lodge their applications before the changes.

“Why now, and why not wait until travel bans are lifted to lodge an onshore application?"

Because borders likely won’t open for potential partner visa applicants until late 2021, and additional restrictions will likely be legislated by then. The new sponsorship process will add uncertainty, because you won't know whether the sponsorship will be approved in time for you to apply for the Partner visa before your visa expires.

Furthermore, offshore Partner visas are being processed faster than ever right now, so it’s a good time to do this to avoid the new Partner visa requirements AND potentially be able to come to Australia anyway before the borders are reopened (Partner visa holders are exempt from the border restrictions).


Could I apply before November?

Find out in your free 1-to-1 consultation with our Partner Visa experts 👇



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