Reforms to Partner visa program​​​​

Department of Home AffairsAs part of the 2020-21 Federal Budget, the Government announced that it will implement reforms to strengthen the integration outcomes of the Partner program by the end of 2021. A Discussion Paper is available.


​​​Reforms to Partner visa program​​​​

As part of the 2020-21 Federal Budget, the Government announced that it will implement reforms to strengthen the integration outcomes of the Partner program by the end of 2021. These include:

  • Introducing an English language requirement for permanent resident sponsors and Partner visa applicants; and
  • Applying the sponsorship framework set out in the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2018 to the Partner visa program.

The Department of Home Affairs is seeking community views to inform the development of settings and the implementation of the new English language requirement and the sponsorship framework for the Partner visa program.

To assist with this process, a Consultation Paper (254KB PDF)​ has been developed outlining the proposed changes and seeking views on specific questions related to the reforms.

Written submissions can be sent​ to correspondence.family.policy@homeaffairs.gov.au by close of business 21 March 2021. Submissions received after this deadline may not be considered.

Meeting the English language requirement

The English language requirement will apply to primary and secondary Partner visa applicants aged 18 to retirement age and sponsors who are permanent residents.

Permanent resident sponsors will need to meet the English language requirement as part of the sponsorship assessment (details about the new sponsorship framework are at Part B).

Partner visa applications are processed in two stages and Partner visa applicants will only need to meet the English language requirement at the second-stage assessment, which is often two years after the provisional Partner visa application is lodged. Partners will continue to be able to travel to and stay in Australia on the provisional Partner visa and access government funded Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) classes to learn English.

The English language requirement will be introduced to the Partner program at the end of 2021 and will apply to applications lodged on or after the date of implementation.

The Discussion Paper

The English Language Component

The Discussion Paper asks a number of questions over two topic areas:

  • What level of English language proficiency and skills would Partner visa applicants and permanent resident sponsors need to function independently in Australian society, including to access essential services and employment?
  • What should constitute a reasonable effort to learn English in the context of AMEP participation?
  • What evidence should be accepted to satisfy the English language proficiency requirement for Partner visa applicants and permanent resident sponsors?
  • In what circumstances should a person be exempt from needing to meet the English language requirement? What evidence should be accepted to support a claim for an exemption?
  • What other strategies can the Department adopt to support prospective Partner visa applicants and permanent resident sponsors to prepare for the introduction of the English language requirement, both in the lead up to and after the implementation of the new requirement?

The Sponsorship Component

As part of the 2020-21 Federal Budget, the Government announced that it will apply the family sponsorship framework set out in the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2018 (the Act) to the Partner visa program.

A sponsorship framework, made under the provisions of the Act, currently applies to the Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa (SPTV). The new partner sponsorship framework will support prospective Partner visa applicants and sponsors to make informed decisions about whether or not to proceed with a visa application.

It will allow prospective Partner visa applicants to walk away from a potentially violent relationship (before they lodge and pay for the visa application). The framework will:

  • separate the sponsorship and visa application processes;
  • support information disclosure relating to domestic and family violence to the sponsor or the applicant; and,
  • enable sanctions to be imposed on sponsors who breach sponsorship obligations.

The new sponsorship framework complements the existing provisions in Australia’s migration laws, which allow provisional Partner visa holders and certain Prospective Marriage visa holders who experience family violence to continue with their permanent visa application even if their relationship breaks down

Sponsorship Component Questions

  • What types of adverse information should be subject to disclosure under the new sponsorship framework?
  • Are there other issues that should be considered in the development and implementation of the new sponsorship framework for the Partner visa program?

Consultation Process

Written submissions must be sent via email to correspondence.family.policy@homeaffairs.gov.au preferably in Microsoft Word or PDF format by close of business 21 March 2021. Submissions received after this deadline may not be considered.

This is a public process and all submissions should be provided as public documents. The Department does not intend to publish submissions but it might share the content with other parties such as state and territory governments and other Commonwealth agencies.

For privacy reasons, all personal and direct contact details will be removed from your submission before they are shared with state government or other Commonwealth agencies unless otherwise stated. Please advise if you do not want your submission to be shared outside the Department of Home Affairs.

Download the Discussion Paper (PDF)

 

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