Major Partner and Family Visa Legislation Passes Senate-The Effect on Partner/Fiance Visas Uncertain

The following is copied from the Immigration Law Newsletter, which is newsletter for immigration professionals:

Major new partner and family visa legislation has passed and is awaiting royal assent to become law.

The Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 passed in the Senate on 28 November and is awaiting royal assent. The final version of the bill is not yet available, which may contain various amendments that were proposed for the Bill. Without knowing the specific content of the final Bill, it is not possible to accurately predict the effect of the new legislation.

Even once the final Bill’s content is known, the specific affect of the bill on visa applicants will likely not be known until the applicable changes to regulations and policy are made. It is not known at the moment how far along the process of updating regulations and policy may be.

Of specific concern is the anticipated change that the sponsor part of partner and fiance visa application may have to be lodged and approved prior to visa applicants making their application. The effect on those intending to lodge partner visas while onshore in Australia, especially those on visas with a relatively short validity period such as visitor visas, is processing of the sponsor application may take longer than an intending visa applicant may have onshore to apply for a visa. Delays in the ability of onshore visa applicants to apply for partner visas could result in a spike in the incidence of Schedule 3 issues for onshore partner visa applicants if they delay lodging their visa application until they are unlawful or only hold a bridging visa from some other type of onshore application.

Of additional concern is the genuine temporary entrant status for visitors who have already been named in a lodged partner/fiance visa sponsorship application – that application would seemingly establish that the visa applicant had an intention to remain in Australia on a permanent basis rather than being a temporary visitor. The effect re genuine visitor / genuine temporary entrant criteria on new visitor visa applications and new airport entries for visitor visa holders who have been named in a partner or fiance sponsor application but have not yet been able to lodge their own visa applications onshore has generated significant concern from the industry since the anticipated changes were announced 2 years ago.

The Bill also intended to create additional obligations on current and future partner/fiance visa sponsors, and impose sanctions on family visa sponsors if those obligations are not met.

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