Australian Partner Visa: 12 Tips For Applying

Are you applying for an Australian Partner Visa? Here are my top 12 tips for your application, from personal experience!

A few weeks ago, my temporary partner visa for Australia got approved. WOOHOO!

This visa has been on my mind constantly for the last 1.5 years, so it’s a big relief. However, this doesn’t mean I just get to stay in Australia forever. 

There are two stages of the Australian Partner Visa:

  • Temporary Partner Visa (Subclass 820)
  • Permanent Partner Visa (Subclass 801)

Once your temporary visa is granted, your permanent visa is up for consideration. When you submit your application, you are applying for both the temporary and permanent Australian Partner Visas. 

The application can be quite stressful. It is long, expensive, and takes lots of planning and preparation. 

In order to help other foreigners in Australia who might be going through the process, I’d like to share some of my advice and experiences. 

Here are my top 12 tips for applying for an Australian Partner Visa.

I came to Australia to live with Matt on a Working Holiday Visa; 2 years later we’re applying for a Partner Visa!

Australian Partner Visa: 12 Tips For Applying

A partner visa is tricky. You’re in a relationship with another human being, bonded together by emotions and experiences.

Yet, you have to prove the authenticity of your relationship through an online application that will be evaluated by someone you don’t even know. 

You could be the happiest couple in the world, but if you don’t have enough tangible evidence of your relationship, your visa could be denied. 

It is a daunting fact, but it’s true. Getting a partner visa is all about proof.

Even if you have all the necessary evidence and your relationship is 100% real, it’s still easy to stress about your visa being denied. When something is important to you, of course you’re going to worry about losing it

Hopefully, these 12 tips will help boost your confidence, strengthen your understanding of the visa process, and help you create the best application possible.

Top Tips For Your Australian Partner Visa Application: Before You Apply

These tips come in handy before you actually submit your application.

KEEP IN MIND: Read the Australian Immigration website thoroughly before submitting your application.

Much of what I say here will align with what’s on their website. I’ll just be adding my personal comments and experiences to support the information on the official website.

Click here to view the Partner Visa page on the Australian Immigration website.

1. Evaluate Your Relationship 

First and foremost, decide if a partner visa is really the best option for you. 

It is very common to rush into commitments, especially if your relationship is new and you’re still in the Honeymoon Phase. 

Will you still be with this person 5 years from now? The visa process is long, often taking up to 5 years before you get a permanent partner visa. 

If it’s too early in the relationship to tell, consider doing 2 or 3 years of a Working Holiday Visa. That allows you to live in Australia with no long-term commitments so you have more time to grow as a couple. 

Student visas and work visas are other options. 

After a couple years, if you still want to live here with this person, go for the visa. 

Check out my Ultimate Guide to the Australian Working Holiday Visa (First and Second Years)

2. Take Lots of Photos

Photos are great evidence of your relationship. As soon as you have thoughts of a partner visa, start getting photos of you two doing things together. 

Most couples do this anyway, but I know some people aren’t that into photos. 

In most cases, it’s totally fine to keep your relationship private. However, having no photos of yourselves together doesn’t help your case for an Australian Partner Visa. 

Put in the effort to take photos, and post them on social media if you can. This shows your relationship is public and your friends and family are aware. 

3. Get A Joint Bank Account

Just a couple months after I arrived in Australia, a friend told me to get a joint bank account with my partner straight away. 

Her Canadian boyfriend had just applied for a partner visa, so she knew the process and was trying to help me. 

Naturally, I didn’t take her advice. Matt and I spent the next 1.5 years just alternating paying for things. I didn’t want to seem like I was getting too committed, too quickly. 

But last year we decided to make a joint bank account anyway, and it’s actually made our lives a lot easier. 

Having a joint bank account is one of the key things that Immigration looks for. Sharing finances shows you are pooling your money to support your lives together. 

We use the joint account for rent, bills, groceries, household items, and whenever we do things together.

You can actually print out bank statements that list your shared expenses, so it’s solid proof. 

We used our joint bank account to pay for all our expenses on our recent NSW South Coast Road Trip.

4. Register Your Relationship (essential if you’re not living together)

Here is another key piece of information that Immigration looks for on your Australian Partner Visa application: are you living together?

Having a shared lease with both your names on it is great for the visa. But many people don’t have that. 

Whether you two live with family, with friends, with flatmates, or you don’t live together at all, you can still apply for a partner visa without a shared lease. 

The key is registering your relationship in your state. 

Fill out the online application that states you two are in a de facto relationship: committed, but not married. 

You’ll just get a relationship certificate which you can upload to your visa application. This helps prove your commitment, especially if you don’t live together. 

Matt and I did it even though we have always lived together. My logic was, why not? It takes a few hours of your time and costs $223 in NSW. And then we had gained more proof for our application, so it was worth it. 

Click here for the Service NSW page for registering a relationship. For other states, just do a search on Google!

5. Discuss your relationship facts and goals with your partner

On your Australian Partner Visa application, there is a section of open-ended questions about your relationship. They are:

  • how, when, and where you first met
  • how the relationship developed
  • when you moved in together, got engaged, or married
  • what you do together
  • the time you spent apart
  • significant events in the relationship
  • your plans for the future

Don’t just jot down anything here. You have a lot of space to come up with accurate and thoughtful answers.

Sit down with your partner, discuss your answers, and write something detailed. 

Your partner will have to fill out these same questions on the Sponsorship Application, which I’ll talk about later. So make sure your answers match up.

For example, Matt and I sort of got together over time, so we weren’t even sure of the exact date our relationship started. 

But you need to put a date on the application. So we reminisced on our time together and were able to come up with an actual date that we both agreed on. 

Make sure you’re open with each other and you actually talk about everything on the application. You want to be on the same page!

Australian partner visa date relationship started
Matt and I got together in Costa Rica, but we had to think hard about the exact date our relationship started.

6. Save Money

An Australian Partner Visa is expensive. 

The application cost is 7,715 Australian Dollars. You pay online through ImmiAccount when you submit your application. 

After you click submit, you’ll have to go through a few more steps that also cost money.

To give you a rough idea of costs, here are some of the extra expenses I had to pay:

  • Register Relationship in NSW: $223
  • BUPA Health Exam: $300
  • Australian Police Clearance: $40
  • USA National Background Check: $65
  • Massachusetts Police Clearance: $32
  • Florida Police Clearance: $30
  • UK National Background Check: $100

I’ll go into more details about these things later on. But that’s around $790 of expenses on top of the $7,715. 

Even if you and your partner split the application cost, it is still not cheap. If you don’t have that much money already, you’ll have to start saving before you submit your application. 

7. Organize Documents Early

Getting all your documents together is the most tedious part of the Australian Partner Visa application. 

It can be hard to stay on top of things if you’re not organized. 

As you’ll probably be submitting your application online through ImmiAccount, I recommend making a folder on your computer titled Partner Visa. 

Then, as soon as you find a piece of evidence, put it in the folder.

Whenever you see a bank statement, a bill, a piece of mail with both your names on it, a photo, an Instagram post, your relationship certificate, etc., you can just screenshot it, scan it, take a photo of it, or download it and put it straight into the folder. 

If you constantly do this over time, that folder will have all your evidence in one place once it’s time to upload your documents.

When Matt came to visit my home in the USA, I saved all our flight confirmations and added them to my documents folder.

Top Tips For Your Australian Partner Visa Application: After You Apply

After you apply for a Partner Visa, you should be moved onto a Bridging Visa while your application is processed.

These tips are for uploading your documents, which you can do after you submit your application and you’re on your Bridging Visa.

8. Stay On Top Of Your Forms and Get Them Done ASAP

If you haven’t already realized, there is a long checklist of things you need for the Australian Partner Visa.

Luckily, you can submit your application and add these documents afterward. 

But you don’t want to wait too long to get these things done. I recommend doing all of these within the first couple of months after you click “Submit”.

Some documents take a while to obtain, as you have to go through an outside agency. 

Here are some important documents/tasks you’ll need to get done:

Health Exam

You can sign up for a health exam through BUPA after you submit your application. You’ll get a referral letter on ImmiAccount to bring to your appointment.

When I booked my health exam, they scheduled my appointment for 3 months down the line. So I recommend booking an appointment straight away because it can take a while to get you in.

BUPA will send your results directly to Immigration, so you don’t have to do anything after you attend your appointment.

Click here for the BUPA Visa Medical Service website

Police Checks

You have to apply for a police check in every place you’ve lived in the last 10 years.

Everyone has to get an Australian Police Clearance. Just visit the website, fill out the application, pay the $42, and the results will be mailed to you. It’s very easy!

Click here for the Australian National Police Website

But I had to get 4 police checks in addition to that one, which meant I needed to file 4 separate applications through 4 different agencies. Sometimes it takes a month or so for your certificate to arrive. 

If you’re from the USA, you’ll have to get a state police certificate for every state you’ve lived in.

You’ll also have to get a national police check, from either the FBI or a registered partner agency. You’ll most likely have to visit your local police station in Australia and get your fingerprints taken to add to your national police check application.

I used the partner agency, National Background Check. The application was pretty simple and their phone customer service was helpful when I had questions.

Click here for more info on federal background checks via the USA embassy. (There wasn’t much straightforward info on the Australian Immigration website about USA Police Checks!)

Character Forms

You have to fill out Form 80 for your application.

This form is super detailed and requires you to list every job you’ve had, every school you’ve attended, every place you’ve lived, and every country you’ve traveled to in the last 10 years.

As someone who has traveled A LOT, this form took me DAYS to complete. I recommend setting aside lots of time to get it done accurately.

Click here to view Form 80: Character Assessment

Sponsorship Application

Your partner has to fill out an application to be your sponsor in Australia.

It’s pretty easy to do, and they can submit the sponsorship application through your ImmiAccount

Keep in mind, this isn’t technically part of your partner visa application. Go to your ImmiAccount homepage, and start an entirely new application under your partner’s name.

Witness Statements

You may also want to submit witness statements from people who know you and your partner well.

That means you can have someone vouch for you two and claim that your relationship is real.

This is Form 888, and it’s relatively short. But each witness has to have the document verified by a qualified person such as a JOP, legal practitioner, nurse, teacher, etc. (All the details for this are on the form).

Click here to view Form 888: Declaration by a Supporting Witness

Australian partner visa travel
Don’t forget to have your partner fill our a Sponsorship Application!

9. Continuously Check Your Application

As the months pass while you’re on your Bridging Visa, check your Australian Partner Visa application for any updates. 

I didn’t get an email notification when Immigration decided that I needed to upload more evidence. Luckily I checked and saw the notification on ImmiAccount, otherwise, I never would have known. 

You can also continue to upload new evidence to help your case. Keep adding photos or bills or mail or any recent documents as necessary. 

10. Don’t Hesitate To Call Immigration For Help

If you have any questions, call Immigration directly to speak to a person.

I’ve called them countless times and they’re usually very helpful. So if you have any doubts or confusion that can’t be cleared up through the Immigration website, give them a call.

  • Call Immigration from Australia: 131 881
  • Call Immigration from outside Australia: +61 2 6196 0196​

Read next: Pros and Cons of Living In Australia

11. You Don’t HAVE To Hire A Migration Agent

This is a very common question that even I asked: Do I need to hire a migration agent for an Australian Partner Visa?

After my experiences, my answer is NO. You do not need an agent!

Migration agents cost thousands of dollars. But they are professionals, so I’m sure they can make your application the best it can be. In my opinion, hire an agent if:

  • You’ve been dating for a very short time
  • You don’t feel like you have much evidence
  • You’re feeling extremely overwhelmed and stressed out by the application
  • You just want that extra help and reassurance from a professional
  • You can afford it!

I don’t think you need an agent if:

  • You’ve been dating and living together for a couple of years
  • You have researched all the requirements and can provide all the evidence Immigration asks for
  • You understand the application and feel confident in your evidence

So you can 100% apply for an Australian partner visa without an agent and save yourself lots of money, IF you’re confident and have plenty of evidence.

12. Stay Positive!

Once you apply for your partner visa, the average processing time is around 2 years. Yes, it takes AGES. 

So once you’ve considered all these partner visa tips and you feel confident with the evidence you’ve provided, try to just relax. 

If you’ve really done the best you can with your visa, stop stressing about it and look on the bright side: you now have 2 years to enjoy life in Australia before you get a decision!

Do check your application monthly for updates, and do upload new evidence if necessary. But don’t dwell on it!

Find a job you love, make friends, and just enjoy Aussie life. It’s an amazing place to live, so stay positive that you’re here now and try not to worry too much about your visa outcome. 

☼ ☼ ☼

Those are my top 12 tips for your Australian Partner Visa Application!

For more helpful articles about living in Australia, check out:

Cost of Living in Australia: 2020 Guide

Ultimate Guide to the Australian Working Holiday Visa: First and Second Years

Pros and Cons of Living in Australia

Farm Work in Australia: What Apple Picking is Really Like

How To Find The Cheapest Flights Abroad

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