Is it better to apply for a partner visa onshore or offshore? In this article we highlight some of the benefits of applying onshore, while you are still in Australia.
To start with the obvious, some people are simply not able to make an application onshore. For example, they may be living and working overseas with their partner. In this case the only viable option is to submit the application offshore.
Having said that, if you are able to apply onshore, there are some significant benefits.
Firstly, when the Visa which you currently hold expires, you are still able to stay in Australia (legally) until a decision is made on your partner Visa application. To illustrate the significance of this point: at the time of writing this article, the processing time of a partner Visa application is approximately 20 to 25 months. So during this period of time, you are able to be physically together with your partner.
Secondly, once you have submitted your application and you are on a bridging Visa (after your current Visa has expired) you have unlimited work rights – even if your previous substantive Visa had a work limitation attached to it.
Another significant benefit is that you can enrol in Medicare, Australia’s publicly funded health care system. You can enrol as soon as you have submitted your Visa application. You do not have to wait until a decision is made. This is not the case with other types of visa applications got, but submitting a partner visa application comes with this benefit.
Some issues to be aware of
Before you submit your application, be sure to check the conditions of your current Visa. The best way to do this is to refer to the “Visa granted notice” which you would have received when your current Visa was granted. In that letter, the Immigration Department has listed the conditions that apply to your Visa. Check if the “no further state” condition is attached to it.
If your Visa is not subject to this condition, that means that you can apply for the partner Visa onshore.
If your current Visa is subject to a no further stay condition, that means that before you are able to apply for a new Visa, you must leave Australia first. So in that case, it is not possible to apply onshore.
The next thing you should be aware of is that while your current Visa is still in effect, you must comply with its conditions. To illustrate how this works: when you submit your partner Visa application, your current Visa may still be valid for a period of time. For example, you may be a student Visa, and it may not expire for another 2 months at the time you submit your partner Visa application. This means that your bridging Visa will not come into effect until after a period of two months. You must comply with your student Visa conditions until it expires and the bridging Visa comes to effect. So if there is a work limitation attached to your student Visa, then that work limitation applies until the student Visa expires, after which you have unlimited work rights.