2020 budget announced – how it affects the Partner visa program?
The Government will apply the family sponsorship framework to Partner visas which will mandate character checks and the sharing of personal information as part of a mandatory sponsorship application and subject the sponsor to enforceable sponsorship obligations. These changes will complement existing family violence provisions within the Partner visa program. It appears that the long-anticipated split of partner visas into separate applications for sponsors and applicants may be coming soon, however, there is no definite date as to when the new legislation will be implemented.
English language requirement
The Government will also introduce English language requirements for Partner visa applicants and their permanent resident sponsors. These changes will help support English language fluency and enhance social cohesion and economic participation outcomes.
Family Stream places will increase
The Government will maintain the 2020-21 Migration Program planning level at 160,000. Good news – Family Stream places will increase from 47,732 to 77,300 places on a one-off basis for the 2020-21 Migration Program year.
Furthermore, onshore visa applicants and Partner visa applicants where the relevant sponsor resides in a designated regional area, will be prioritised for the 2020-21 Migration Program.
This will hopefully reduce the current long processing time.
COVID-19 Related Visa Application Refunds
Prospective marriage visa (Subclass 300) holders will be able to access a VAC refund, as the Department is not extending the entry date for 300 visa holders and moving to cancel the visas of those offshore.
What should you do to be proactive?
Consider lodging an onshore Partner Visa application sooner rather than later, before new sponsorship legislation becomes active. It will require sponsorship approval before the applicants are able to lodge their visa applications. We are yet to learn how long the processing of sponsorship applications will be or if they will leave visa applicants with no options to stay onshore
Similarly, it would be prudent for some applicants to start English language courses to ensure that this requirement is met. It is not clear whether it will be a time of application or time of decision criteria, hence it is better to be safe than sorry.