Are you a spouse partner of Australian citizen waiting for your partner visa to stay in Australia indefinitely? Under the law, if you had moved an offshore visa application for partner visa, you would have to be offshore – outside Australia to get your visa, once your application is finalized and your visa granted.
In other words, you would be asked to leave Australia, go back to your country of residence, get your visa and then make arrangements to return to Australia.
That is pretty cumbersome in the current climate with quarantine issues on both sides of travel and the risks associated with it. And it does not make sense.
The good news is – the government has realized the fallacious implementation of the law in the current COVID-19 climate and decided to introduce a temporary change which will allow partners to remain onshore – in Australia and receive their partner visas right here.
It is estimated that up to 4000 partners of Australian citizens will no longer be forced to make a return trip out of the country to receive their visas.
Seized of the issue, Labor MP Julian Hill introduced a private member’s bill in Federal Parliament on Monday that would allow applicants of the subclass 309 partner visa to be temporarily granted while onshore.
Labor’s route to change via the private member’s bill is encumbered with getting the amendment through the parliament which will, if successful, result in changing the law.
With the government having the numbers, it is unlikely that the Julian Hill bill will get through. The government however is making the temporary changes via regulations rather than a change in law.
After the change comes into effect, partners whose visas were about to run out, would be allowed to stay in Australia until changes are put in place in early 2021.
This temporary concession will come in handy for partners who are in Australia and are unable to travel offshore due to border closures.
The temporary concession also applies to children, adopted children, dependent children and prospective marriage visa applicants.
Making it clear that the concession is temporary, Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said the changes would be reviewed in line with any updates to Australia’s international travel restrictions.
“These are commonsense changes to reduce the impact that the travel restrictions are having on our immigration program,” he said.
“Importantly, this will allow a foreign national who is a partner of an Australian citizen to progress their visa without having to leave the country.”
Labor points to the fact that the concession changes will come into effect only in early 2021 and demands more clarity from the government.
“so for months to come, partners still face a risky and expensive round trip overseas just to have their visa granted” Julian Hill said.
“Couples who’ve already wasted tens of thousands of dollars on flights and quarantine are right to be pissed off. They deserve an apology and compensation from the Morrison government,” Julian Hill added.