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How can I transition from tourist visa to partner visa in Australia?

Have you ever thought about making Australia your permanent home? Imagine embarking on a lifelong journey with your loved one and becoming a part of this diverse and vibrant country. Just like any exciting journey, you may encounter challenges along the way. But with proper planning and adherence to the necessary steps, you can ensure a smooth transition.

The application for a partner visa is a two-step process whereby you will initially obtain a temporary visa. Following that, you will be able to apply for a permanent partner visa which grants you the right to live in Australia. However, the visa system can be challenging to navigate, and it is crucial to understand the process to ensure a smooth transition and compliance with Australian immigration regulations. Let us first get insight into visa types and learn the steps to transition from tourist to partner in Australia without any hassle.

Understanding the Visa Options

Tourist Visa (Subclass 600)

The tourist visa allows individuals to visit Australia for tourism or to engage in business activities for a temporary period. It is essential to note that a tourist visa does not grant the right to work or study in Australia. The duration of stay can vary, with options for a short stay or a more extended period based on the specific visa stream chosen.

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Partner Visa (Onshore and Offshore)

The partner visa in Australia enables the partner or spouse of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen to live in Australia. There are two main categories for partner visas:

  1. Onshore Partner Visa: If you are already in Australia on a valid visa, such as a tourist visa, you may be eligible to apply for an onshore partner visa (Subclass 820/801). This visa allows you to stay in Australia temporarily while the Department of Home Affairs processes your application for a permanent partner visa.
  2. Offshore Partner Visa: If you are outside Australia when you apply for a partner visa, you will fall under the offshore partner visa category (Subclass 309/100). This visa allows you to enter Australia and live with your partner on a temporary basis before being granted a permanent residency visa.

The Process: From Tourist Visa to Partner Visa

Eligibility Assessment

Before you begin the application process, it is important to figure out whether you are eligible for a partner visa. Australian immigration has strict requirements to ensure the authenticity of relationships. To qualify, you need to satisfy the following conditions:

  • You and your Australian partner must be 18 years or older.
  • You must have met your partner in person and have a genuine and ongoing relationship.
  • You must be able to prove that you are in a committed and exclusive relationship with your de facto partner.
  • Your partner must be an Australian citizen, permanent resident of Australia, or eligible New Zealand citizen.
  • You must be able to provide evidence that you intend to live together with your partner in Australia.
  • You must not have any Australian visa refusal or cancellation.

Transitioning through Onshore or Offshore

If you satisfy the criteria for a partner visa, you have the option to apply for the visa either onshore or offshore. To apply for a subclass 820 visa application, you need to get a bridging visa to submit your application while still being in Australia. A bridging visa allows you to stay lawfully in Australia while your partner visa application is being processed. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that you have a valid visa to remain in Australia until your partner visa application is evaluated, as the bridging visa only becomes effective once your current visa expires.

If your tourist visa expires and you do not have a bridging visa, applying subclass 309 visa is still a possibility. However, you will need to exit the country prior to the end of your visitor visa and submit your application from outside of Australia. It is important to note that applying for an offshore partner visa can prove to be more challenging than an onshore partner visa, as you must fulfil the requirements for the visa while outside the country.

Gathering Required Documents

Applying for a partner/spouse visa can be a lengthy and paperwork-intensive process. It is essential to ensure that all documents are precise, comprehensive, and meet the specified criteria. To streamline the application procedure, it is vital to gather all required paperwork in advance, which includes:

  • Proof of identity: This can include a passport, birth certificate, or other government-issued identification.
  • Proof of your relationship: This can include photos, emails, messages and other evidence that demonstrates the authenticity of your relationship.
  • Proof that you have lived together: This can include lease agreements, joint bills and other documentation that shows you have shared a residence.
  • Proof of financial support: This can include bank statements, tax returns and other evidence that shows your sponsor can provide financial support.
  • Proof of health and character: This can include medical exams, police certificates and other documentation that shows you meet the health and character requirements for the visa.

Meeting Financial and Sponsorship Obligations

When applying for a partner visa in Australia, your sponsor must provide proof of adequate financial support for you. They must meet income thresholds or show the ability to offer substantial financial assistance. They will be responsible for two years of financial help starting from the date they receive their visa.

Additionally, sponsors have specific obligations and responsibilities, including assisting the visa applicant and providing the necessary support during their stay. You need to note that failure to meet your sponsorship obligations can have bad consequences, including cancellation of your partner visa and possible legal action.

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Lodging a Partner Visa Application

Lodge your partner visa application through the immiaccount, an online portal provided by the Department of Home Affairs. To complete your application, as per DHA, you must pay the mandatory fee of AUD8,850.00, which applies to most applicants. If you hold a subclass 300 Prospective Marriage visa, the fee is reduced to AUD1,475. Additionally, you must submit all the necessary supporting documents. It is important to double-check that you have provided all the required information to avoid any delays or complications in the application process.

It is important to note that if your partner visa application is refused, you may be able to lodge an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). The AAT can review the decision and may overturn it if it determines that the decision was incorrect or unfair.

Processing and Waiting Period

Your application will undergo thorough processing by the Department of Home Affairs, which involves conducting necessary checks and assessing your eligibility. You will be granted a Bridging visa A (BVA) once you submit the application, as the processing time may vary depending on various factors, individual circumstances and the visa subclass you are applying for. The average processing time for a partner visa application is several months to over a year, but processing times can change. Thus, it is advisable to check the Department of Home Affairs website for up-to-date information and keep track of the progress of your application.

Granting the Visa

Upon approval of your partner visa application, you will receive a temporary partner visa that aligns with the status of your current application. Once your temporary visa is granted, there will be an opportunity to transition to permanent residency by applying for the right visa subclass (801 or 100). After two years of submitting your initial partner visa application, you can apply for a permanent visa. Your temporary visa stays valid until a decision is reached on your permanent visa application, allowing you to reside and work in Australia while awaiting the outcome.


Obtaining a partner visa can be a lengthy process, but it is important to stay organised, ensure your contact information is up to date and, above all, remain patient. The path of acquiring a partner or spouse visa requires preparation, diligence and a thorough understanding of the process.

Seeking professional assistance from a registered migration agent can ensure your application is complete, accurate, and meets all requirements. At 4Nations International, we provide personalised advice tailored to your unique circumstances and guide you through the intricacies of the process, increasing your chances of success.

If you are ready to embark on this exciting chapter of your life and begin the application process, Contact Us today and take the first step towards securing your partner visa and a new life in Australia.

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