English Test for Permanent Stage of Partner Visas

The federal government announced their 2020-21 budget on 6 October 2020. Based on the budget, we will be seeing new changes to partner visa applications. One of the most significant changes to the partner visa is the English requirement. Applicants and sponsor will be required to pass the English language requirement. The aim of the test is to promote social cohesion and economic participation. Whilst the full details of the English language requirement are not released yet, we have summarised the information we have so far below:

  • The language requirement will NOT be in place for subclass 300 Prospective Marriage visa, Subclass 309 Partner (Provisional- offshore) visa and Subclass 820 Partner (Provisional-onshore) visa. It is only a requirement for the permanent subclass 801 or subclass 100 stage.
  • If you are on the provisional partner visa, you may have to sit the English language test. Whilst the difficulty of the test is not yet determined, it will likely be a basic English test, and the applicant has to show functional English.
  • An alternative to the English language test is that the applicant undertakes about 500 hours of English language classes through the Adult Migration English Program (AMEP).
  • Permanent resident sponsors will be required to show the same level of English language proficiency as the visa applicant.
  • Australian citizen sponsors do NOT need to show English.
  • Couples who meet the long-term relationship definition are usually granted the Subclass 801 visa Partner visa (Permanent) without having to wait for the two years on the provisional visa. As such, the language requirement might not be applicable.
  • If you hold a passport form USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand or Ireland, exemptions may apply.
  • The English requirement for partner visas will NOT apply to lodged applications.
  • It is likely these changes will come into effect from 1 July 2021.
  • Most partner visas are a provisional visa of two years before becoming eligible for a permanent visa. The requirement will have to be met at the time of the granting of the permanent visa.
  • These new measures will provide further opportunity for migrants and new citizens to maximise their opportunities in Australia.


The new changes to Sponsored family visa’s, will be implemented for Partner visas by the end of 2021. The changes mean that Sponsorships must be lodged first and approved before Partner visas can be lodged. This change will adversely impact onshore Partner visa applicants wanting to lodge a visa application prior to their substantive visa expiring. The sponsorship application will be assessed separately and will need to be approved before a valid Partner visa application can be lodged. 

If you are planning to apply for a Partner visa we recommend booking an appointment to discuss and understand how these changes may impact you.

Additional changes include:

  • DoHA will give onshore visa applications a priority over offshore applications.
  • If your sponsor lives in a regional area, your visa application will be given priority.

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