Onshore Partner Visa (820/801): Navigating the Application Process

Onshare Partner Visa 820 and 821

Onshore Partner Visa (820/801): Navigating the Application Process

Are you in a committed relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen? If so, the subclass 820 visa may be the solution for you to reside temporarily in Australia with your partner.

Onshare Partner Visa 820 and 821

The application process for the subclass 820 visa involves a two-step approach, here’s how it works:

Step 1: Submit a Combined Application for Subclass 820/801 Visas

When you apply for a subclass 820 onshore partner visa, you’ll need to submit a combined application for a subclass 801 visa, which is a permanent residency visa.

Step 2: Confirm Your Eligibility After Two Years

After two years have passed since you submitted your application, you’ll need to provide evidence to immigration that you continue to meet the visa requirements. This includes proof that your relationship with your Australian partner is still intact.

Note that when you first apply, you’ll only be assessed for the subclass 820 visa. After the two-year period has passed, the Department of Immigration will assess whether you meet the requirements for the subclass 801 permanent residency visa.

Streamlined Permanent Residence for Long-Term Relationships

Under certain conditions, the application process for a subclass 801 permanent residence visa can be streamlined into a single step. If you are in a long-term relationship with your Australian sponsor, you may be eligible for this streamlined process.

The term ‘long-term’ refers to a minimum relationship duration of:

  • 3 years,
  • or 2 years if there is a dependent child from the relationship.

Successful applicants in this category will be granted the subclass 801 visa at the first step of the process.

Eligibility criteria for the onshore partner visa subclass 820:

  • Be 18 years or older (with exceptions for marriage)
  • Be in a marital or de-facto relationship with an Australian citizen/permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen
  • Have a sponsor who is 18 years or older (with exceptions for marriage)
  • Be sponsored by your Australian partner or their parent/guardian if under 18
  • Have a sponsor who meets character requirements and provides police clearances
  • Hold a substantive visa or meet requirements under Schedule 3 criteria
  • Meet both health and character requirements

Definitions of these terms may differ from common usage, so it’s important to understand how they apply to the visa application.

Marriage Requirements for the 820 visa:

  • Legally valid in Australia
  • Mutual commitment to a shared life as a married couple, excluding all others
  • Genuine and continuing relationship
  • Living together or not living separately on a permanent basis

De-facto Relationship Requirements for the onshore Partner visa (820/801):

  • Mutual commitment to shared life excluding all others
  • Genuine and continuing relationship
  • Living together or not living separately on a permanent basis
  • Not related by family
  • Been in a de-facto relationship for at least 12 months at the time of application (unless an exemption applies such as a relationship registration certificate in an eligible state or territoy)

Assessment of the Relationship for the onshore Partner visa (820/801):

The Department considers various aspects such as:

  • Financial aspects of your relationship
  • Social aspects of your relationship
  • Nature of your household
  • Nature of your commitment

Evidence must be provided for each aspect above throughout the length of the relationship.

Your current visa status for the onshore Partner visa (820)

Before submitting your application, it is important to confirm your visa status and ensure it meets the requirements for subclass 820/801. This type of application must be submitted while you are in Australia.

In most cases, you must have a substantive visa at the time of submission. A substantive visa is usually any visa except for a bridging visa. If you do not have a substantive visa, you may still be able to apply if you meet Schedule 3 criteria. However, meeting these criteria requires you to meet a “high threshold” test and typically requires compelling special circumstances. If you apply more than 28 days after your last substantive visa, it can be especially difficult to meet these criteria.

For these reasons, it is highly recommended to seek professional advice from a migration agent or immigration lawyer if you find yourself in this situation before submitting your application. This will help ensure that you fully understand what it means for you and how it may impact your application.

How to apply for an onshore partner visa subclass 820

The following is a step-by-step guide to help you through the process of applying for an onshore partner visa Subclass 820 visa.

Step 1: Determine Eligibility

Before you start the visa application process, you must determine if you meet the eligibility requirements for an onshore partner visa. The requirements include:

  • Being in a genuine and ongoing relationship with an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen
  • Living together for at least 12 months unless married or exempt such as registering your relationship in an eligible state or territory.

To apply for a Subclass 820 visa, you will need to provide various documents to support your application. The following is a list of basic and generic documentation that may be required:

Identity documents:

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate

Character documents:

  • Police clearances
  • Criminal record checks

Relationship evidence documents:

  • Marriage Certificate or Relationship Registration Certificate
  • At least two Form 888’s (statutory declarations from supporting witnesses attesting to the authenticity of the relationship)
  • Written statement or Statutory Declaration from both partners about the history and development of their relationship

Financial aspects of the relationship:

  • Joint bank statements
  • Evidence of shared living expenses
  • Proof of shared income
  • Joint property ownership or lease agreements

Social aspects of the relationship:

  • Evidence of social activities and events attended together
  • Correspondence between partners (letters, emails, text messages, call logs)
  • Affidavits from friends and family members confirming the authenticity of the relationship

Nature of household:

  • Evidence of shared living arrangements (rental agreements, utility bills, etc.)
  • Joint household items (furniture, appliances, etc.)
  • Evidence of shared household responsibilities

Nature of commitment:

  • Evidence of shared future plans and aspirations
  • Proof of shared responsibilities and obligations
  • Evidence of mutual support and commitment (e.g. declarations of love and commitment)

Important: The above list is not exhaustive as not all relationships present the same facts. The truth is every relationship is different. Additional documents and supporting evidence may be required for your specific matter. Failing to provide the correct information or documents may result in a visa refusal.

It’s important to ensure that all of the required documents are accurate and up-to-date. A good registered migration agent will have templates to assist with many of the above documents to ensure your supporting evidence meets the legal requirements. They will also know exactly what is required for your specific case.

Step 3: Lodge the application

Once you have gathered all of the required documentation, the next step is to lodge the application. You must be onshore in Australia to apply for the Subclass 820 visa. When you file a temporary Subclass 820 Partner Visa application, you will receive a Bridging Visa, which allows you to stay legally in Australia while your application is being processed. The Bridging Visa “bridges the gap” between visas, so that you maintain lawful status while you wait for a decision on your Subclass 820 application.

Depending on your visa status at the time of application, the Department may grant you different types of Bridging Visas. If you have a valid visa at the time of application, it will remain in effect until either a decision is made on your Subclass 820 application or the visa expires. If your visa expires during the application process, the Bridging Visa will come into effect.

If you don’t have a valid visa at the time of application, your Bridging Visa will take effect immediately, granting you the legal right to remain in Australia. This visa will also allow you to enroll in Medicare, study, and work, though you may need to apply for work rights and travel rights separately, depending on your situation.

Step 4: Wait for a decision

After you have submitted the application, you will need to wait for a decision from the Department of Home Affairs. The processing time for a Subclass 820 visa varies, but it usually takes between 6 and 12 months if the application is prepared correctly. Failing to prepare the application correctly can slow down the processing of your application, and in some cases, it can take over 3 years to reach a decision.

Step 5: Attend a medical examination

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus necYou may need to attend a medical examination as part of the visa application process. The medical examinations that are required vary depending on the applicant’s circumstances. ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Step 6: Attend an interviewHere

In some cases, the Department of Home Affairs may require you to attend an interview as part of the visa application process. The interview is an opportunity for you to provide further information about your relationship and circumstances. The interview is not common but may happen at any given time. 

Step 7: Decision

Once the Department of Home Affairs has processed your application and you have successfully met the legal requirement of the onshore partner visa subclass 820, you will receive the Subclass 820 visa. The visa will allow you to live in Australia until a decision is made on your permanent partner visa application.

Applying for a subclass 820 visa can be a complex and time-consuming process, but with the right guidance, it can be made easier. Engaging a registered migration agent can greatly increase your chances of success and help you avoid potential problems that may arise during the application process.

Processing recommendations:

  • Continue adding documents to the application during the processing

  • Processing times can 2 years or more however, if your application is prepared correctly and decision-ready it may speed up the processing time

  • Remember that you must provide evidence that the relationship continues to meet the visa grant requirements at the time of eligibility assessment for Subclass 801 visa.

What are the costs associated with an onshore partner visa 820?

The costs associated with an onshore partner visa (subclass 820) include:

Visa application fee: The current fee for an onshore partner visa (subclass 820) is AUD 8,085 plus an online payment surcharge.

Health examinations: A medical examination and/or chest x-ray as part of the visa application process. The cost of these examinations will vary but are generally $300 to $500 depending on the applicants circumstances.

Police clearances: You may need to obtain police clearances from your home country and/or any other countries where you have lived for more than 12 months in the last 10 years. The cost of obtaining police clearances will vary depending on the country.

Translation services: If you need to provide any documents that are not in English, you may need to pay for translation services.

Legal fees: If you choose to engage the services of a registered migration agent or immigration lawyer to help you prepare and lodge your visa application, you will need to pay their fees. The cost of these services will vary. These will be confirmed to you before you agree to proceed with their services.

Other costs: Depending on your individual circumstances, you may incur other costs such as postage and courier fees for sending documents to the Department of Home Affairs, or costs for obtaining and providing evidence of your relationship.

It’s important to note that the costs associated with an onshore partner visa (subclass 820) are substantial, and are typically around AUD 8,500. Additionally, the fees are non-refundable, even if your visa application is refused.

What is a schedule 3 waiver for an onshore partner visa?

A Schedule 3 Waiver is a waiver of the no further stay condition that is imposed on some partner visa holders, including subclass 820/801 visa holders. This condition means that, if you hold a visa with a no further stay condition, you cannot apply for another visa while you are in Australia.

If you wish to apply for another visa while you are in Australia and are subject to a no further stay condition, you must seek a waiver of the condition by providing evidence and reasons to the Department of Home Affairs to demonstrate why the waiver should be granted. This is known as a Schedule 3 Waiver.

Examples of reasons that may be considered for a Schedule 3 Waiver include, but are not limited to: compelling and compassionate circumstances, changes to your circumstances that are beyond your control, and other compelling reasons.

It is important to note that a Schedule 3 Waiver is a discretionary decision and is not guaranteed. Each case is considered on its own merits, taking into account the individual circumstances of the applicant and the relevant legislative provisions.

What happens if your onshore partner visa 820 application is refused?

If your subclass 820 partner visa application is refused, you may have the option to request a review of the decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). This is known as a “merits review.” However, not all decisions are eligible for review, and it is important to be aware of the specific requirements for determining eligibility.

In the case of a merits review, the AAT will re-examine your application and the evidence submitted to the Department, including any new information you provide. The AAT will use the same legislative provisions as the Department in making its initial decision.

The outcome of a merits review can either be affirmed or remitted back to the Department. It’s important to note that there are strict time limits for lodging an appeal, so it’s crucial to act quickly if you find yourself in this situation. 

it is important to keep in mind that the fees for the onshore partner visa are over $8,000 and are not refundable, regardless of the outcome of your application. We can’t stress enough how crucial it is to get it right the first time!

A visa refusal can have a negative impact on a person’s life, causing stress, emotional turmoil, and financial burden. The process of appealing a refused visa can also be time-consuming, complex and require a significant investment of time and resources.

It’s crucial to carefully consider the potential consequences of a visa refusal and to seek professional guidance from a registered migration agent or immigration lawyer to understand your options and develop a plan for moving forward.

Using a registered migration agent has several benefits, including:

Expert knowledge: Migration agents have extensive knowledge of the visa application process and are trained to stay up-to-date with changes to immigration laws and regulations. They can help you understand the requirements for a subclass 820 visa and ensure that your application meets all necessary standards.

Saving time: A migration agent can help you avoid mistakes and delays in the application process. They can review your application and provide you with guidance on what documents are required, ensuring that your application is complete and accurate.

Improving chances of success: Migration agents are experienced in preparing successful visa applications and have a good understanding of what immigration authorities are looking for. They can provide you with advice on how to present your application in the best light, increasing your chances of success.

However, it’s important to choose a registered migration agent carefully. Some migration agents may not have the knowledge or experience necessary to assist with a subclass 820 visa application, and they may not provide accurate or up-to-date advice. In addition, some migration agents may charge excessive fees, which can make the visa application process more expensive.

When selecting a migration agent, it's important to consider the following factors:

Registration: Ensure that the migration agent is registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA). You can check this by visiting the OMARA website and searching for the migration agent’s name.

Reputation: Look for a migration agent who has a good reputation in the industry. You can ask for references from other clients who have used their services or check online reviews such a Google reviews to see what others have said about their experiences.

Experience: Look for a migration agent who has experience in preparing subclass 820 visa applications. An experienced migration agent will have a good understanding of the application process and be able to provide you with guidance and advice to increase your chances of success.

Fees: Make sure you understand the fees charged by the migration agent and that they are reasonable. Some migration agents may charge excessive fees, which can make the visa application process more expensive.

In conclusion, engaging a registered migration agent can help you navigate the complexities of the subclass 820 visa application process, increase your chances of success, and save you time and money. Just be sure to choose a migration agent who is registered, experienced, and has a good reputation.

At Migration Unity we offer a 100% money-back guarantee on partner visas. We will only take you on as a client if we are confident that there is a high chance of success. You can schedule a partner visa video consultation with one of our Registered Migration Agents who specializes in partner visas here: Partner Visa Consultation

Taina Silva

Taina Silva

Director | Registered Migration Agent
MARN: 1802671 | MMIA: 19470

Taina is a Director and Registered Migration Agent of Migration Unity, specialising in skilled work visas, partner visas and complex cases. She has an outstanding track record of approvals and provides a range of timely, ethical and transparent solutions to Australian businesses in various industries, including hospitality, construction, health, IT and regional operations. She has a growing client base which consists of migrants from all over the world and small to medium enterprises through to large national groups