Crucial Partner Visa Program Change 2021

As part of the 2020-21 Federal Budget, the Government announced that it will implement reforms to strengthen the integration outcomes of the Partner program by the end of 2021. These include:

English Language Requirement for Partner Visa Applicants

Introducing an English language requirement for permanent resident sponsors and Partner visa applicants. The English language may be met on following circumstances:

  • Demonstrating Functional English
  • Demonstrate that they have made a ‘reasonable effort’ to learn English by participating in government funded AMEP tuition
  • A valid passport issued by a particular country (the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States of America, Canada or the Republic of Ireland)
  • An education or qualification in or outside Australia for a nominated period where all instruction was in English

Sponsors Pre-Approval for Partner Visa Applications

Applying the sponsorship framework set out in the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2018 to the Partner visa program. The framework will:

  • Separate the sponsorship and visa application processes
  • Support information disclosure relating to domestic and family violence to the sponsor or the applicant
  • Enable sanctions to be imposed on sponsors who breach sponsorship obligations

In the current situation, sponsorship and visa application processes occur at the same time.


In comparison with the current framework, the following may be the consequences of a new framework:

  • Unlike in the current framework, the visa applicant will not get a Bridging Visa when sponsorship application is lodged. The visa applicant must wait for the sponsorship approval to lodge a visa application. There is no time limit for the approval of sponsorship.
  • It may also mean that visa applicants will be stranded overseas in case of sponsorship refusal. On another note, it will allow prospective Partner visa applicants to walk away from a potentially violent relationship.

If you are a partner visa applicant, it will affect your application in the following ways:

  • The Partner Visa Sponsorship Application will be evaluated separately from the Visa Application – This means that you must first submit the Sponsorship Application and wait for the Sponsorship Application to be approved before you can submit your Visa Application.
  • For those whose visas are expiring and who want to apply for an onshore partner visa – if you cannot apply for a visa you will not be given a Bridging Visa A to stay in Australia.
  • If you do not have a Bridging Visa A (BVA), you must leave Australia before your current visa expires and wait for the Partner Visa Sponsorship Application to be approved before you submit your Partner Visa application. However, even if your sponsorship application is approved, due to border closures, you will need to request a travel exemption to enter Australia (which is not guaranteed to be approved).

Need to know more?

For further information and advice on upcoming changes to Australia’s Partner visa program set to come into effect in or around November 2021, please contact Ghothane Lawyers.

This blog was published on 09 November 2021, and due to the circumstances, there are frequent changes. To keep up to date with all the latest updates on Australian immigration.