How Much Time Does It Take to Get a Spouse Visa in Australia?

Before we look at the duration of getting a visa for one’s spouse, it is important to dive into the general requirements and visa types you can apply within these categories.

The major categories or subdivisions of the spouse visa are:

  • Partner temporary visa (subclass 820)
  • Permanent partner visa (subclass 801)
  • Prospective marriage visa (subclass 300)

To be eligible for a spouse visa in Australia, one must be able to fulfil the following requirements that apply to most categories:

  1. The applicant and their spouse must have a commitment to a shared life as spouses, whether or not they are legally married, to the exclusion of all others.
  2. The relationship must be genuine and continuing.
  3. The partners must live together, and not separately or apart on a permanent basis.
  4. In the case of the partners being unmarried, it is necessary for them to have been living together for the past 12 months. It is also important to show that they have been in a relationship for the past 12 months.
  5.  Both the people in the relationship must be above the age of 18.
  6. The applicants must pass the health and character criteria.

To apply for a partner visa, the applicant may either be in Australia or overseas when applying. These are the applicable visa for both categories.

  • Onshore visas (820 & 801)
  • Offshore Visas (309 & 100)

Onshore applicants are given a bridging visa while their regular visa application is processed.

Visa Types and Eligibility

Here are the basic eligibility criteria for different visas:

Visa TypeEligibilityOnshore/offshoreConditions
Partner (Migrant) visa -subclass 100For those who hold a Partner (Provisional) visa – subclass 309.For onshore applicants.For those in a continued relationship with the sponsoring partner for at least 2 years.
Partner (Provisional) visa – subclass 309For those in a married or de-facto relationship with an eligible Australian citizen or PR holder or New Zealand citizen.For offshore applicants.Has to be sponsored by the eligible partner.
Partner visa (permanent)  – subclass 801For those who hold a Partner visa (Temporary) – subclass 820.For onshore applicants.For those in a continued relationship or be married or a de-facto relationship with an eligible Australian citizen or PR holder or a New Zealand citizen & their application sponsor for at least 2 years.
Partner visa (Temporary) – subclass 820For those in a married or a de-facto relationship with an eligible Australian citizen or PR holder or New Zealand citizen.For onshore applicants.Makes the applicant eligible to apply for a Partner visa (permanent) – subclass 801 later.
Prospective Marriage visa – subclass 300For applicants engaged to be married to an eligible Australian citizen or PR holder or a New Zealand citizen.For offshore applicants.The applicant should be in a de-facto relationship with the sponsoring partner for at least 12 months. The applicant also needs to marry within 9 months of the visa grant date or arrival in Australia, whichever is earlier.

Once the applicant’s application has been processed, they are given a temporary visa, which permits them to stay within Australia for 2 years, including full work rights during the time.

In certain situations, the applicant may not have to wait 2 years before applying for permanent residence. This may happen when:

  • The applicant has been in the relationship with their spouse for 5 years or more at the time of filling the application.
  • The applicant might have been in the relationship for two years where there are dependent children of the relationship.
  • The applicant’s spouse was granted a permanent visa under the humanitarian program or a protection visa and was in a relationship with the applicant before granting the visa. This relationship was declared to Australian immigration officials at the time.

After the two-year period, the applicant will be entitled to apply for permanent residence in Australia, given that their relationship is continuing.

Now, in some circumstances, the applicant may be eligible for permanent residence even if the relationship has broken up before the end of the 2-year period. These are rare circumstances, and occur if:

  • The applicant’s spouse has passed away during the given period.
  • The applicant and their Australian spouse have children under the age of 18.
  • The applicant or their dependents have been subject to any kind of domestic violence during the given period.

Covid-19 Updates

The Australian Government is overall prioritising the Partner Visa processing. Earlier this year, in February, the Government informed the Migration Institute of Australia that while other visa options may not be possible for travel at this time.

Given the current situation and the difficulties in travelling in and out of the country, the Australian government has allowed subclass 309 partner visas to remain in the country without needing to fly out of the country to get their temporary partner visa granted. This of course is a temporary measure, but a highly effective move.