Australian Parliamentary action has resulted a significant impact on Family sponsored visas especially the much discussed about category “Partner Visas” The Migration Amendment Bill 2016 was first introduced on 16 Mar 2016. It was mainly proposed to establish the following changes:
- To establish a sponsorship framework for the sponsored family visa program to separate sponsorship assessment from the visa application process for family sponsored visas.
- Mandatory approval of persons as family sponsors before any relevant visa applications are made.
- Impose statutory obligations on persons who are or were approved as family sponsors and provide for sanctions if those obligations are not satisfied.
- Facilitate the sharing of personal information between parties identified in a sponsorship application.
- Enable the refusal of a sponsorship application and the cancellation or barring of a family sponsor in certain circumstances.
- Enable the regulations to prescribe details for, and in relation to, the operation of the sponsorship framework.
- To also make required consequential amendments.
Senate has now PASSED the above-proposed changes to the sponsorship. According to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, the bill debates on the amendments that are designed to firstly protect vulnerable Australian sponsors whom do non-genuine visa applicants who simply want a permanent visa outcome target.
Secondly, the changes will address the current situation where Australian sponsors who have a violent history, including against family members, are able to sponsor non-citizens without having to disclose details of their past to either the Department or other parties to the visa application.
Parliament’s decision to pass the bill was the final step before the bill becomes the law and the migration legislation is amended for Partner Visas in Perth. This can take place within a week as the bill is waiting for the Royal Assent.
The amendments will initially apply to PARTNER VISAS. However, the Department has foreshadowed that the sponsorship framework will be extended to other visas in the family program following its implementation in partner visas.
The Department of Home Affairs does not yet have any idea of how long the process of sponsorship clearance will take, as the assessment for sponsor’s character and any history of family violence can certainly consume more than 6 months in some cases.
- If you are in the process of lodging a Partner visa, we strongly recommend you seek professional advice from XL Migration and Education Services as to whether you should lodge the visa application as soon as possible, to avoid the new legislation and issues.
- If you have already lodged a Partner visa application, you should NOT be affected by the changes.
- If you and your partner are eligible for a prospective marriage visa to meet the requirements then, the current process is to lodge a Partner Visa application at the same time as the sponsorship application.
- The benefit of lodging the visa application and a sponsorship at the same time is that they will be assessed together.
If you are in Australia and are eligible to apply for the partner subclass 820 & 801, then you will be able to stay in Australia for the duration of the processing of the Partner visa until a decision is to be made. This allows you full work and study rights. As it may take more than 12 months of processing time, this is an advantage for onshore Partner Visa applicants. The applicant and sponsor can remain together in Australia while the onshore Partner Visa is under process.
What to expecrt with the upcoming changes?
- The Sponsor must be approved before a Partner Visa can be lodged.
- Australian Permanent ResidenWhen the sponsorship is approved, only then can the visa applicant lodge an application related with that approved Partner sponsorship. t
- This will affect the Prospective Marriage Visa or Partner Visa subclass 820/801 or subclass 309/100.
- This will also limit the number of onshore applications made by all visa applicants coming to the end of their current visa.
- Some of the temporary Visa holders in Australia such as Student Visa holders, Work Holiday Visa holders and some Tourist visa holders are certainly going to be affected by this change. They will need to have the sponsorship stage approved before the lodge the Partner Visa application stage. Some of the temporary visa holders will be at the risk of running out of their visas while the sponsorship stage is under process.
- Because the processing of the sponsorship approval is unknown, if your visa is about to expire, it is likely you may need to go offshore to lodge a new Partner Visa application.
- This separation of sponsorship and visa application will bring uncertainty for visa applicants who are thinking about lodging the visa application but unable to do so because their sponsor is also now required to be approved.
Do you need help with an Australian Partner Visa Application?
At XL Migration we are experienced in assisting applicants in all matters relating to Australian visa applications. Our areas of expertise include Partner Visas, Skilled Migration visas, Business Skills Migration visas, Employer-Sponsored Work Visas and other Family Migration visas as well as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) Review, Judicial Review and Ministerial Intervention.