Australian Partner Visa Reforms Will Commence At The End Of 2021
Additional English proficiency requirement and approval of sponsorship for Australian Partner Visa application
Within the Family Migration Program, the Australian partner visa is one of the best visa options for those in a relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident and wish to stay in Australia with their partner.
Regarding the 2020-21 Federal Budget, the Australian Federal Government announced that the reforms of Australian partner visas would be implemented, proposing to strengthen the integration outcomes of the Partner program by the end of 2021. The reforms include English language requirements and the approval of sponsorship before visa application.
Find more details below.
English Requirement for Australian Partner Visa application
The English requirement will apply to the primary and secondary Australian partner visa applicants aged 18 to retirement age. It will also apply to the Partner Visa sponsor with status as a Permanent Resident.
As we know, Partner Visa Australia is assessed in two stages, namely:
- The first stage for provisional or temporary Partner Visa;
- The second stage for permanent Partner Visa.
The Australian partner visa applicants need to meet the English requirement at the second-stage assessment, which usually occurs two years after the first stage Partner visa is lodged.
How to meet the English requirement?
There are three proposed ways to meet the English requirements, namely:
a. English Language proficiency level
The first proposed way is by showing that you have a certain English language proficiency level. Currently, the Department of Home Affairs set 5 different English language proficiency levels; Functional English, Vocational English, Competent English, Proficient English and Superior English. The exact proficiency level for the Australian partner visa application is still in talks.
b. Show reasonable effort to learn English
As an Australian partner visa applicant or a permanent resident sponsor, you may show a reasonable effort to learn English. For example, you may participate in Australian Government funded AMEP (Adult Migrant English Program).
c. Other supporting evidence
Looking at the English language requirements for other Australian visas, supporting evidence as mentioned below may be sufficient to meet the English requirement:
- An appropriate score in an approved English language test;
- A valid passport issued by particular countries, such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States of America, Canada or the Republic of Ireland; or
- An education or qualification in or outside Australia for a nominated period where all instruction was in English.
Sponsorship Approval prior to Australian Partner Visa Application
Sponsorship application for Australian partner visa is a necessary process. Currently, the sponsorship application is made after the Partner Visa application is lodged. However, with the reforms of Australian partner visa at the end of 2021, the Department of Home Affairs must assess and approve the sponsorship application before the lodgment of the Partner Visa application.
It means you must submit a sponsorship application first, then the Department will assess it. If your sponsorship application is approved, you can continue your Australian partner visa application. The proposed framework for sponsorship application will:
- Separate the sponsorship and visa application processes;
- Support information disclosure relating to domestic and family violence to the sponsor or the applicant; and
- Enable sanctions to be imposed on sponsors who breach sponsorship obligations.
The new sponsorship framework will also allow the provisional Australian partner visa holders and certain Prospective Marriage visa holders who experience family violence, which leads to relationship breakdown, to continue the permanent visa application.
Find more about Partner Migration here.
Purpose of the Reforms for Australian Partner Visa
Now you might wonder about the purpose of adding the English requirement and changing the sponsorship application process?
Purpose of Adding English requirements
The Department of Home Affairs Australia decided to add the English requirement to the Australian partner visa application because they know how important it is to have English communication skills. The Department found that most migrants who do not have sufficient English skills may be more vulnerable to family violence and other exploitation. Additionally, the Department also emphasizes by having sufficient English skills, the Australian partner visa holders will be able to gain employment, independently access government services and seek help in emergencies.
Purpose of approval sponsorship prior to Partner Visa application
The new framework of sponsorship application will support the prospective Partner Visa applicants and sponsors to make informed decisions to proceed with a visa application. Hence, for example, if the Department of Home Affairs found out that the sponsor was convicted for family violence or other serious offences, the Department will give the information to the partner visa applicants. In that way, the partner visa applicants can walk away from the potentially violent relationship.
A similar process will apply to visa applications as well. If the Department of Home Affairs finds out the visa applicant was convicted of severe offences, they will let the sponsor know.
When will the Australian Federal Government implement the reforms?
The Department of Home Affairs has not put an exact date of when the reforms will commence. However, the reforms may begin in November 2021, referring to the statement that these reforms will start at the end of 2021.
What does it mean to you?
If you are planning to lodge a partner visa application next year, it would be better for you to find out your options.
It is also applicable for you who have been granted the provisional Australian partner visa but are still waiting for the permanent stage assessment.
Additionally, the new framework of sponsorship application will positively impact both visa applicants and sponsors.
Let’s prepare for the reforms of Australian Partner Visa
The reforms of Australian partner visas might affect you. Don’t worry! ONE derland Consulting is ready to ease your concern!
We also understand that applying for a visa to Australia is certainly very complicated. It is even more challenging during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Our visa specia