Partner visa grants, refusals, cases on hand and processing times

Partner Visa Statistics

Partner visas are divided into five different subclasses. The five subclasses are as follow:

Subclass 309 – Partner (Provisional) Visa

Subclass 100 – Partner (Migrant) Visa

Subclass 820 – Partner Visa (Temporary)

Subclass 801 – Partner Visa (Permanent)

Subclass 300 – Prospective Marriage Visa

Subclass 309 and 100 are for overseas applicants whilst subclass 801 and 100 are for onshore applicants. As the name suggests, partner visa allows de facto partner or spouse of an Australian Citizen, Australian permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen to migrate to Australia. The visa holders can live, work and study in Australia. Subclass 309 visa allows the applicant to travel to Australia to marry his/her partner. Recently, the government released some statistics on partner visas.

Grants, Refusals and Withdrawals

The data provided by the government outlines the number of visa approvals, refusals, and withdrawals during the 2020 program year. Based on the numbers, the Department is prioritising onshore applications as opposed to offshore applications. Comparing the number of visa grants, throughout July till September, the number of grants for onshore partner visas are more than offshore partner visas. This is due to the outbreak of COVID-19, which caused border closures and travel restrictions. Visa refusals have decreased compared to the same period last year. However, this may be due to the lower number of cases being processed. The number of withdrawals remains relatively similar each month.

Visa Grants
Visa Subclass 31/07/2020 31/08/2020 31/09/2020
Subclass 100 (offshore) 1,494 1,176 1,771
Subclass 300 (offshore) <5 7 13
Subclass 309 (offshore- Prospective Marriage visa) 573 558 983
Subclass 801 (onshore) 2,742 4,565 3,869
Subclass 820 (onshore) 2,177 1,643 1,883
Partner visa refusal numbers

Partner visa withdrawal numbers

Partner visas- Cases on hand and backlogs

Now let us take a look at the number of cases the Department has on-hand as of 30 September 2020. These are cases that are still waiting to be processed by the Department. This number includes both primary and secondary applicants.

Partner visa processing times

The global processing time for partner visa has increased due to COVID-19. Whilst the Department has been processing and finalising visa applications during COVID-19, the unavailability of some services are adding to the delay of the visa processing. For example, the disrupted accessibility to panel doctors has impacted applicants’ ability to complete the health checks and meet the visa requirements. The inability to satisfy these requirements has contributed to the delay. Comparing data from the same period last year, it is evident that there are significant delays in processing first stage partner visa (i.e. Subclass 309, 820 and 300). At a glance, the second stage of partner visa application processing has decreased; however, the number of cases on hand in July and August 2019 was higher than July and August 2020.

First stage partner visa processing times (SC820)

July 2019 July 2020
75% – 18 Months 75% – 19 Months
90% – 26 Months 90% – 25 Months
August 2019 August 2020
75% – 18 Months 75% – 22 Months
90% – 26 Months 90% – 27 Months

Second stage partner visa processing times (SC801)

July 2019 July 2020
75% – 19 Months 75% – 18 Months
90% – 26 Months 90% – 25 Months
August 2019 August 2020
75% – 17 Months 75% – 15 Months
90% – 24 Months 90% – 23 Months
Budget Announcement and Partner visas

The government announced in the budget that new changes will be introduced for partner visas. These include:

It is expected that the additional requirements that the government are putting in place would contribute to further delay and costs for the visa applicants. This is because the applicant and sponsor will have to complete additional requirements before the visa is granted. Take the mandatory character checks; for example; it will take extra time for the Department to vet the sponsor and approved the sponsor before the applicant can proceed with the visa application. However, these changes are unlikely to come into effect until mid-next year.

These are the budget announcements; however, as they are not yet legislated, there are still many speculations. We will publish more details as soon as we received more information from the government.

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