The COVID-19 crisis will have a significant impact upon offshore partner visa processing times, with applicants having to wait up to two years to unite with their partners.
If you are a spouse, or in a de facto relationship with a permanent resident or Australian citizen and have lodged an application within the last three months, or are planning to lodge one in the next few months, it is predicted that you will be the significantly impacted by these new waiting times.
Before the coronavirus crisis, the average processing time for the Partner Provisional (Subclass 309) visa was anywhere between 10 to 12 months from the date of lodgement. Offshore applicants will now have to wait longer for a decision on their application due to the significant impact of COVID-19.
These extensive delays can be attributed to the current lockdowns that are in place within the majority of countries, which has resulted in the closure of many visa-related services. In this current climate, applicants may struggle to obtain police certificates, complete health examinations and attend biometrics appointments.
“At least 75 to 85 percent of applicants will be impacted if the crisis went on for a few more months.” claims Migration Agent, Juj Bajwar.
Acting Immigration Minister, Alan Tudge, stated that couples may face difficulty in receiving a visa grant, due to the closure of the borders.
Offshore partner visa applicants can still enter Australia on a Visitor visa whilst waiting for their partner visa application to be processed. It should be noted there is a prerequisite for 309 applicants which does not allow them to be in Australia whilst they are making the final decision for the application. Therefore, if you choose to travel to Australia on a Visitor visa, you must exit the country upon receiving an email from the Department of Home Affairs asking you to leave the country, so that they can make a final decision in relation to your Partner visa application.
Mr Singh states that “If you lodge an application along with all appropriate documents, police clearance and medical, you end up reducing the turnaround time significantly. But in the current circumstances, that too wouldn’t be possible.”
As there is a slower rate of correspondence and responses from case officers that are working within other countries, it is expected that there will be extreme delays.
As the Department of Home Affairs assesses each application on a case-by-case basis, the actual processing times will vary according to individual circumstances, such as:
- Whether you have lodged a complete application, which includes all relevant supporting documents.
- How promptly you respond to requests for further information.
- How long it takes to conduct checks on the supporting documents that are provided.
- How long it takes to obtain further information from external agencies (such as health, character and national security requirements).
- How many places are available within the migration program (Only applies to permanent migration visa applicants).
It is important to submit a complete application, in order to assist in processing.
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