In a Media Release dated November 30, 2020, the Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge has announced “further changes to support Family visa applicants”.
The Australian government is making further changes to the Family visa program for supporting applicants that have been impacted by the pandemic. These changes will be coming into effect early 2021.
Previously, various measures had been announced for minimizing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australian visa holders. Among the various arrangements introduced were – allowing visa holders flexibility for remaining in Australia, or being able to continue visa pathways even if unable to travel due to the current travel restrictions.
Now, the government of Australia will allow certain Family visas for Australia that had been applied from outside the country, to be granted while the visa applicant is within Australia.
Usually, a “fly in, fly out” rule is applicable for Family visas for Australia, requiring the visa applicant to travel offshore at the time of their visa being granted.
With the temporary concession announced by the Australian government, individuals that are in Australia will not have to travel offshore, amidst the COVID-19 related border closures, to be granted their Family visa for Australia.
As per Minister Alan Tudge, the new changes will “allow a foreign national who is a partner of an Australian citizen to progress their visa, without having to leave the country”.
An estimated 4,000 visa applicants – mainly Partner visa applicants [subclass 309/109] – that are currently in Australia are to be affected by the change.
The Partner [Provisional] visa for Australia, subclass 309, allows the spouse or partner of  an Australian permanent resident,  an Australian citizen,  or an eligible New Zealand citizen to live in Australia temporarily.
Acquiring a subclass 309 visa is the first step towards the Partner [Migrant] visa, subclass 100.
Subclass 100 visa for Australia allows the spouse or partner of  an Australian permanent resident,  an Australian citizen,  or an eligible New Zealand citizen to live in Australia permanently.
Generally, subclass 100 visa for Australia is granted to those holding a subclass 309 visa.
Referring to the recent announcements as “common sense changes” with the aim of reducing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australian immigration, Minister Alan Tudge said that the changes would be temporary and will be subject to review.
The temporary concession – of allowing visa applicants to remain in Australia for the processing of their visa – will be applicable to the following:
These changes to Partner visas are in addition to the Australian government’s decision of doubling the number of Partner visa spaces in 2020-21. As per the 2020-21 Migration program planning levels of Australia, of the total 1,60,000 visa spaces available, the allocation for Partner visas will be 72,300.
Of these 72,300 Partner visas for Australia in 2020-21, it is expected that almost three-quarters will go to those already in Australia, in view of the increase in the number of applicants awaiting the finalization of their visas.
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