Family & Partner Visas

Immigration Law

If you are an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen and have your loved ones living overseas, you may be able to sponsor certain family members to join you in Australia.

The Australian immigration law is complex and has various requirements and restrictions regarding who can sponsor family-based visa applicants and what documents and evidence must be provided in the visa applications. We can assist you with any family related visas, including:


Partner Visas (for married, de facto or same-sex relationship)

An Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen may sponsor a partner (who can be a spouse, de facto partner or same-sex partner) to migrate and live in Australia.

Partner visa applications require various documents evidencing a genuine relationship and mutual commitment between the visa applicant and the sponsor. Depending on personal circumstances, partner visa applications can be lodged onshore (while the visa applicant is in Australia) or must be lodged offshore (while the visa applicant is outside Australia). In some situations, there may be complications such as relationship breakdown, family violence or other events that may affect the partner visa applications.

We highly recommend that you speak to our experienced immigration lawyers to understand the process, types of documents required and what to do if there are issues in the relationship which may impact your partner visa application.

Prospective Marriage Visas

This visa is for a fiancé to come to Australia to marry a prospective spouse and then apply for a permanent residency visa.

Parent Visas

There are several types of parent visas for a parent of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident of Australia or eligible New Zealand citizen to move to Australia.

Child Visas

There are several types of visas for a child to move to Australia to live with their parents, or to obtain permanent residency to stay in Australia and live with their parents, or to stay in Australia temporarily while their parent’s permanent partner visa application is being processed.

Adoption Visa

This visa enables children adopted outside Australia to live in Australia with their adoptive parent(s).

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    What are different types of partner visas?

    There are several types of partner visas:

    1. Subclass 820/801 Onshore Partner visa:
      This application is lodged in Australia for both visa 820 and 801. Visa 820 is the first stage and once granted will allow you to work and study and have access to Medicare. Generally, after 2 years from being granted visa 820, you can then lodge documents proving your continuing relationship to apply for visa 801. Visa 801 is a permanent visa that allows you to stay in Australia indefinitely.
      If you and your spouse/ de facto partner have been in a long term relationship and/or have a child/ children together, the Department may grant you visa 820 and 801 at the same time.
    2. Subclass 309/100 Offshore Partner visa:
      This application is lodged outside Australia. Visa 309 is the first stage and allows you to come to Australia and stay temporarily, with the right to work, study and access to Medicare.
      Generally, after 2 years from being granted visa 309, you can then lodge documents proving your continuing relationship to apply for visa 100. Visa 100 is a permanent visa that allows you to stay in Australia indefinitely.

    Can my partner still sponsor me for a partner visa if they have a criminal record?

    The sponsor application may be refused if the sponsor has significant criminal records for certain types of offence.

    “Significant criminal record” refers to sentence to death, imprisonment for life, a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more, or 2 or more terms of imprisonment if the total of those terms is 12 months or more.

    The types of offence under significant criminal record include:

    violence offences (murder, assault, sexual assault, threat of violence);
    harassment, molestation, intimidation or stalking;
    offences involving firearms or other dangerous weapons;
    people smuggling

    Having a criminal record does not always mean your sponsor will be ineligible to sponsor you for the visa. The Department considers the specific criminal records and also take into account other factors such as the seriousness of the offence, length of sentence, the length of time since the person committed the last offence, best interest of the child/ children of sponsor and applicant, whether you (the applicant) is aware of the offences, and the length of relationship between you and the sponsor.

    What documents do I need to provide to show good character?

    Depending on the type of visa, you may be requested to:

    • provide a police certificate (for example if you apply for a partner visa, employment visa, permanent residency);
    • complete a character declaration (such as the one in the online visitor visa application);
    • complete Form 80 personal particulars for character assessment

    Can I sponsor my partner’s children under a partner visa?

    Yes, the child/ children of your partner can be included in the partner visa application if they satisfy requirements of dependants for a partner visa. There are age limits and requirements of dependency applicable to the children. Generally the partner visa application can include:

    • a child under 18 years old;
    • a child who has turned 18 years old but is under 23 years old and is dependent on your or on your partner more than on anyone else for financial support to meet their basic needs for food, clothing and shelter; and
    • a child who has turned 23 years old who is wholly or substantially reliant on you or your partner for financial support due to their incapacity to work resulting from loss of bodily/ mental functions

    Will I lose my partner visa if my relationship ends?

    If you have been granted a permanent partner visa (visa 100 or visa 801), the permanent visa is unconditional and you can stay in Australia indefinitely as a permanent resident even if your relationship ends.

    If you have only been granted a temporary partner visa (visa 820 or visa 309), depending on the circumstances, you may still be able to apply for permanent partner visa. Situations where this can happen are:

    • You are experiencing domestic and family violence;
    • You have a child with your previous partner/ spouse who was your sponsor;
    • Your partner/spouse dies.

    If any of the above situations applies, you will need to provide relevant forms and documents to the Department in order to apply for the permanent visa. It is important to seek professional advice to prepare your application.

    If the above situations do not apply to you, you should explore what other visas you can apply for, or prepare to leave Australia.

    Can I lodge a partner visa in Australia while I am holding a bridging visa?

    Generally, you must hold a substantive visa (which is not a bridging visa) if you want to lodge the partner visa application (subclass 820 & 801) in Australia.

    If your last substantive visa has expired and you want to lodge a partner visa application within 28 days from the expiration of that visa, you must meet all of the following requirements (called “Schedule 3 requirements”):

    • you are not the holder of a substantive visa due to factors beyond your control;
    • there are compelling reasons for grant of a partner visa;
    • you have complied substantially with all conditions of your last substantive visa;
    • if you had applied for a partner visa on the day when you last held a substantive visa, you would have been entitled to be granted a partner visa;
    • the last substantive visa you held did not have a No Further Stay condition.

    If you do not meet all of the above requirements, you have 2 options:

    • leave Australia and lodge the partner visa application offshore; or
    • apply for waiver of the Schedule 3 requirements so that you can lodge the application in Australia.

    To obtain the waiver, you need to show that compelling reasons exist such that the Schedule 3 requirements do not apply. The migration legislations do not define these compelling reasons and the Department considers each case on its own merit.

    Generally, it is not enough to just rely on genuine spousal or de facto relationships and the hardship that you and your partner/ spouse will suffer if you have to leave Australia to apply offshore. It is important to reflect on your relationship and family circumstances to see how they can be the basis for “compelling reasons” to obtain a waiver.

    If I have previously sponsored a partner, can I sponsor a new partner?

    If you are a permanent resident, Australian citizen or eligible New Zealand citizen*, you can sponsor a person (your spouse, fiancé or de facto partner). However, there are certain limitations to your sponsorship.

    (*: New Zealand citizens arrived in Australia on a New Zealand passport and either (i) were in Australia on 26 February 2001 as a special category visa (SCV) holder, or (ii) in Australia for 12 months in the 2 years immediately before 26 February 2004)

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