The Partner Visa

A Permanent Resident or Australian Citizen may sponsor their partner to migrate to Australia. An onshore partner visa (subclass 820/801) is a type of visa that allows the partner or spouse of an Australian citizen or permanent resident to live and work in Australia with their partner. This visa can be applied for by those who are already in Australia on a temporary visa and wish to stay permanently with their partner.

An offshore partner visa (subclass 309/100) is a type of visa that allows the partner or spouse of an Australian citizen or permanent resident to live and work in Australia with their partner, but the application for this visa must be lodged outside of Australia. This visa is for those who are outside of Australia and wish to join their partner in Australia.



In order to be eligible to sponsor your partner, you must be in a de- facto relationship or married.

De-Facto relationship

A de facto partner is someone who is in a committed, genuine, and ongoing relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident. This relationship is not a marriage, but rather a domestic partnership or common-law relationship where both partners live together on a genuine domestic basis.

In Australia, a de facto partner can be of the same or opposite sex, and the relationship must have existed for at least 12 months before the application for a partner visa can be made. However, there are some exceptions to this 12-month requirement, such as if the couple has a child together, if there are compelling and compassionate circumstances, or if the couple have registered their domestic relationship.

Registering your relationship

The application to register your relationship must be lodged before your Partner visa application.  In Australia, domestic relationships can be registered in some states and territories. Registering your domestic relationship can provide legal recognition and rights to the couple, such as access to certain benefits, including health care, superannuation, and inheritance rights.

The process and requirements for registering a domestic relationship vary by state and territory. However, generally, the process involves completing an application form and providing supporting documentation, such as proof of identity and evidence of the domestic relationship, such as joint financial arrangements or shared living arrangements. There is a fee to register.


For a partner visa in Australia, you are considered married if you are legally married under Australian law or the law of the country where the marriage took place. Your official Marriage Certificate must be in English language (an official translation may be provided with the original certificate) and provided at the time of the application.


The Criteria

Section 5CB of the Migration Act 1958 outlines the criteria for determining whether a relationship is a de facto relationship for the purposes of the Act. The criteria include:

  • The duration of the relationship: The relationship must have been in existence for at least 12 months immediately before the application for the visa is made unless there are compelling and compassionate circumstances.
  • The nature and extent of the common residence: The couple must live together or not live separately and apart on a permanent basis.
  • The existence of a sexual relationship: The couple must have a genuine and continuing sexual relationship.
  • The degree of financial dependence or interdependence: The couple must have a mutual commitment to sharing the financial aspects of their lives, such as joint bank accounts, joint ownership of property, or shared expenses.
  • The ownership, use, and acquisition of property: The couple must have joint ownership of property, or a joint commitment to acquiring property together.
  • The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life: The couple must have a genuine commitment to a shared life together.
  • The care and support of any children: The couple must have a mutual commitment to the care and support of any children they have, or any children for whom they have parental responsibility.

It’s important to note that meeting these criteria alone may not be sufficient to establish a de facto relationship, and the decision will be based on the individual circumstances of each case.

Under Regulation 1.09A(3) the Department will take into account collectively the following four factors:

Factor 1 – Financial aspects of the relationship

Factor 2 – Nature of the household

Factor 3 – Social aspects of the relationship

Factor 4 – Nature of the persons’ commitment to each other


Processing Time

Book a consult with one of our Immigration Lawyers to discuss your eligibility and timeframes.


Applying for Permanent Residency after two years

Generally, an applicant for a Partner visa will first be granted a temporary visa (subclass 820/309- provisional partner visa). The Applicant will then be eligible to apply for the Permanent Stage of their application two years from the date of the original application. You must continue to be in a genuine and ongoing relationship with your partner and this must be evidenced by new and up-to-date documents such as new lease agreements, banks statements, photos, witness statements and statutory declarations.

You might still be eligible for the permanent visa if your relationship breaks down (if there has been family violence) or your partner dies before the Department grants the permanent visa.

The Partner Visa Process is extremely complex. You can find our more Partner Visa Process

What if your relationship breaks down after you have lodged your application or while you hold your 820 visa? Click here to find out more.

Have more specific questions about your visa? Get in touch with the best Immigration Lawyers in Melbourne.

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