2018 has certainly been a year of significant changes to a number of Australian visa programs. In case the changes to the employer sponsored visas was not already enough, there is a final cherry on top for the end of the year. On 28 November 2018, the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 was passed and is currently awaiting Royal Assent.
One of the purposes of this bill is to introduce a sponsorship framework for the sponsored family visa program so that visa applicants are more protected from family violence and thus sponsors are more regulated. This is certainly a good direction to take however it raises a number of uncertainties for couples who were planning to lodge their Partner visa application sooner rather than later!
The reason for this is due to the fact that the proposed changes are intended to separate the sponsorship application from the visa application. This means that the sponsorship application will need to be approved before the visa application can be made.
The current processing times for onshore Partner visas is 21 to 25 months. So the big unknown is how long will it take for the DOHA to approve a sponsorship application. This raises alarm bells as many couples may be prevented from lodging applications in Australia if their current visa is time sensitive. This will result in couples being separated for significant periods as they would essentially need to lodge the Partner visa application off shore. This impact is not ideal given the lengthy processing times that are already in place for the Partner visa program.
If you are intending to lodge a Partner visa application in the near future, we strongly recommend to give us a call on 07 3360 0840 to discuss so that you can establish a strategy for you and your loved one.