Major Partner Visa Program Changes announced in 2020 Federal Budget

Several significant changes to the Australian partner visa program were announced by the federal government in last nights 2020 Budget.  These changes include creating an English language test for partner visa applicants, modifying how a partner visa application will be processed and changing who will be eligible to apply for an Australian partner visa in the future.

Specific Partner Visa changes announced in 2020 Federal Budget

The federal government announced that it will place greater emphasis on family stream visas by increasing the annual allocation. However, it will also implement additional eligibility requirements for partner visa applicants. The main changes that have been announced by the federal government include:

  • New English language requirement for partner visa applicants:

With the intention of fostering greater social cohesion, the Government will require all new partner visa applicants to meet a new English language requirement before being eligible to apply for their partner visa.  If the partner visa applicant is being sponsored by an Australian permanent resident, then the permanent resident sponsor will also need to meet an English language requirement.  This is a completely new eligibility requirement for the partner visa application process.

  • Mandatory Partner Visa Sponsor Pre-Approval:

A partner visa sponsor will need to be pre-approved before being eligible to sponsor a partner visa applicant. This preapproval will be similar to the current mandatory family sponsorship provisions that require character checks and the sharing of personal information with the visa applicant.

This change had been previously legislated by the federal government but not yet implemented. This budget announcement is a reiteration of a federal government policy measure to reduce the risk of family violence within the community.  Currently, a partner visa and sponsorship application are accepted and assessed simultaneously by the Department of Home Affairs. This announcement will change this process as a sponsor will need to be pre-approved before a partner visa application will be able to be lodged.

  • Annual partner Visa Allocation Increased by 82%:

The government will increase the annual allocation of partner visas from 39 799 to 72 300. This change will initially clear the current backlog of more than 100, 000 pending partner visa applications and should reduce the processing time for partner visa applications.

Be aware and prepare for changes to the Partner Visa Program

Each of the above are initial government announcements.  The government is yet to release the proposed legislation and supporting regulations that will contain all the specific details.  We will provide updates on specific changes and to the expected timeline for such changes as this information is released by the Federal Government.

If you intend to lodge a partner visa application, it is important that you are aware of these upcoming changes as they may affect your eligibility to apply for a partner visa or may cause additional costs or delays.

You can read the full media release from the Department of Home Affairs Here

If you have any questions about these changes or about the Partner Visa Application process feel free to contact the team at Immigration Gurus.