Australia Travel

Why Is My Australian Partner Visa Taking So Long – FAQs On The 820/801 Visa

Three Year Anniversary

If you’re like many of the readers of my blog, you first discovered this website thanks to my articles on the Australian partner visa, sometimes called the spouse visa, de facto visa or by its numerical code the 820/801 visa. We first applied for our Australian Partner Visa in 2015, and after a long wait, applied for the second stage in 2017. The first stage is the 820, the second stage is the 801. If you’re on the same visa journey as us, you already know that there’s not a lot of information out there on the Australian partner visa that really answers the questions that people have about the process. Having gone through the visa application, even though we still aren’t finished, many people come to me with their questions about the visa, and to tell me their circumstances.

Since I published my first Australian partner visa article a few years ago, I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have reached out and told me their stories. I love to hear them, and at the end of the day we’re all working for the same thing: to get the people we love here with us, permanently. Still, I thought I would compile some of the most common questions I get asked about the Australian Partner Visa. I would have loved a clear resource like this when we first applied for our partner visa, so I hope this information helps someone else on their journey to the 820 visa, or the 801 partner visa.

 Remember, I am NOT a Migration Agent, so this information is provided only in the form of unprofessional advice based on my own experience! 

NSW South Coast, Australia

Why Is The Australian Partner Visa So Expensive?

Probably the question that is most commonly asked to me about the Australian partner visa is this one. Just why is the visa so expensive? At around $7,000, not including credit card surcharges (for paying online) health checks, police checks, or migration agent (optional) the Australian partner visa is one of the most expensive spouse visas in the world. In 2015, ironically just before we applied for our Australian partner visa, the cost doubled, and on July of 2017 the price increased again (marginally) to the current price. If you’re wondering why the cost is so expensive, you aren’t alone. Almost everyone is shocked at the immense cost of the visa, and there has been no explanation by the government on why the visa application cost is so high. Some have suggested it is to deter illegitimate applications, but it appears to be a pretty clear case of revenue raising.

Do I Need To Get A Migration Agent?

Ultimately this question comes down to your ability to afford the agent, which can be several thousand dollars on top of the already excessive visa application fee. If you aren’t good at paperwork, I would 100% recommend a migration agent, or if you have unusual circumstances, it’s definitely a good idea. If you’re not adverse to filling out forms (get ready for lots of that) and you’re willing to dig deep and become something of an expert on the Australian partner visa process, you can probably manage it. We didn’t use a migration agent, simply because we couldn’t afford one. However, it is a risk as the application fee is not refundable if your application is refused, even if it’s for something like a small error on your application.

Will Exceptions Be Made For My Circumstances?

Lots of applicants wonder if their love story or their situation will make the government change the rules of the partner visa for them. I’m not trying to be a cynic, but in my experience (and I’ve heard a lot of partner visa stories) this rarely happens. The only exception I’ve heard is that sometimes the 2-year waiting time between temporary and permanent partner visa can be waived if the couple have been together for a decade, or have a child, but this is no guarantee and I’ve never met anyone who has experienced this.

Can I Cheat The System?

When we were backpacking we often heard non-AU citizens joke about finding an Australian person to ‘pretend’ marry so they could stay in Australia forever. If you’re even thinking about this, leave now. I’m not trying to be cutting about it, but for those legitimately working to get their spouse visa these people are just the worse. Applications of people trying to cheat the system are probably one of the reasons that it’s so hard to get an Australian partner visa, which means the very idea makes me absolutely furious.

Where Do I Go For Advice?

Well, you came here which is a start, but my advice is not official and I’m not a registered migration agent, although I suppose I’m an expert in my own right. I recommend the Australia Forum (check the Resources at the bottom), where there are some very, very clever folks with combined knowledge like you wouldn’t believe who can help with almost anything. There are also some migration agents there offering free advice. Otherwise, get a migration agent and pay them for advice, particularly if it’s a big thing or your application hinges on it.

Does Being Married Make It Easier?

As far as I’m aware, being married does not make your Australian partner visa easier, although people do seem to think this. To my knowledge the only thing that changes on the 820/801 visa if you’re married is that you don’t have to have lived together for 12 months, but you still need to show that your relationship is a genuine one. Your marriage certificate is not a magic piece of paper that’s going to get you a visa. Dean and I talked about getting married when we thought it might smooth our application process, but we weren’t yet ready to be married, and neither of us wanted to be married just for a visa. Both of us were happy with our decision, as we felt it was more true to us, and we’re engaged now anyway.

Temples in Bangkok, Thailand

Why Is My Partner Visa Taking So Long?

The processing times for the Australian partner visa are not getting any shorter, and in the two years since we applied they have gone through the roof. People applying now, according to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, can expect to wait between 18-21 months between applying and being granted the 820 Temporary Australian partner visa. From there they need to wait 2 years after their date of initial application before applying for the 801 Permanent Australian partner visa, which now also takes 19-24 months to process. Dean’s temporary visa was approved at the 11 month mark, and we applied in March  2017 for the 801, and are still waiting.

I know it’s a long wait, but all couples can do is continue to compile (and regularly submit) updated data on their continuing relationship, and do as much as possible to live their lives not focusing on the visa. Worrying and stressing about it doesn’t make it go any faster, and it certainly doesn’t improve the quality of your life!

Resources

Australia Forum – Amazing place and great community for your questions and queries!

Australian Government Partner Migration Booklet

Check Out My Other Partner Visa Blogs

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37 Comments

  • Reply
    Neil York
    August 18, 2019 at 11:48 am

    My Question is,,, Myself and Partner, have done all the paperwork , sent photo’s , Docs ‘ medical etc as proof of of relationship,,,,,,,, at the moment it has been 14 months , we are ok with waiting ,,,,,, but do we still have to keep updating our on going relationship after we sumitted………… we have the proof and have been holding in for the next visa

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      August 20, 2019 at 7:01 pm

      When we applied I updated our application with ‘key life events’ i.e. when we moved house I uploaded our new lease and updated our address, when we made a large purchase (a car) I uploaded evidence of joint ownership etc. However for small things I probably would save them for the next stage of the application if it were me.

  • Reply
    Pat Bell
    April 21, 2019 at 10:28 pm

    I am 6 months into my partner visa application and like others have had nothing except automated responses. My medical has at last been noted but its still asking for bimetrics (a bug in the system I ams told).

    Since applying my aussie wife of 10 years has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Without my visa I couldn’t accompany her but she doesn’t want to go through treatment alone. I have had no notice of a case worker, is there anything I can do? Are these special circumstances?

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      April 22, 2019 at 5:46 pm

      Hi Pat,
      I am so sorry to hear about your wife, I would personally consider this to be special circumstances but I’m not a migration agent and can only speak from my own experience, and sadly I do not have experience with this particular circumstance. I think that your best bet, particularly as you have a very long term relationship (established 10+ years) would be to get in touch with a migration agent and request that they consult on your application. If you aren’t sure where to start, the Australia Forum might be a place to start, particularly this thread.
      Wishing you all the best.
      O.

  • Reply
    Gerry
    April 2, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Hi,

    We applied on Oct 2, 2018 so now are 6 months into the process.

    When completing the documentation I called the help desk to confirm that my wife could get a bridging visa if we lodged her visa from overseas and was told this would be ok, she can get a bridging visa when she came to Australia.

    This information was incorrect. If you lodge your partner visa from overseas, you cannot get a bridging visa. So my wife cannot come here and be with me as she has a 8 year old son who is on the visa and would miss so much schooling.

    I realised this after a week and going through documentation. I told them I had acted on information provided by the help desk.

    I asked about withdrawing the application and resubmitting and was told I would lose the $7000 + and that I would have to reapply and pay again.

    So this has caused so much stress in the relationship and a migration agent told my wife that it would take 2 years before we can be together.

    As you can imagine this is causing untold stress for us.

    The help desk will only give you a direction to find things and answer limited questions. and you may have to wait for over an hour to get through the line.

    As far as I can tell no one has looked at the information as there has been no correspondence from the department except for an electronic receipt on payment when lodged.

    The only answer you will get from the help desk is that the application is being processed. They will tell you that they cannot see anything. They cannot tell you if a case worker has been assigned.

    So this is very frustrating.

    I have heard a few times that if you are from a commonwealth country this increases your chance of getting in earlier.

    I spoke with a lady from Hong Kong and she got her visa in a few months .

    So if you want to come to Australia be ready for a level of pain and stress because this country has an attitude of repression and intolerance.

    I wish you all the best in your application process.

    A person I worked with came from India on a work Visa, One year later he applied and got his wife and 2 children into Australia with no drama.

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      April 4, 2019 at 8:42 am

      Hey Gerry. Man that is a terrible story, I am so sorry you and your wife are going through this. You’re absolutely right about our government’s attitude of intolerance and repression. The partner visa seems to attract the saddest stories because it involves people in love who are struggling against a system of analytical logic, and that’s just not what relationships are really about. In some cases I have also heard of work visas being approved faster, but not always and there are other negatives associated with that visa too. It’s terrible that you have to be separated and that your visa fee is being threatened, but I really do wish you a speedy resolution and hope you’re with your wife again soon. Know that even though the government doesn’t care about it, lots of people out there have dealt with the visa system, know what you’re going through, and send their best as well I would imagine.
      Good luck.

  • Reply
    Juan
    March 4, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    This article has been informative, thank you. My wife and I are planning our move to Australia, she is an Australian Citizen and I will need to go through the Visa 820/801 application process. Currently we are living together in South Africa and want to start a life in Australia. We have 2 options in terms of the application process, either from outside Australia or within Australia. Submitting the application outside Australia is straight forward, we will submit and await the outcome while remaining outside of Australia, if the application is successful we will then move over and start a life there.

    When considering lodging the application from within Australia there are a few “grey” areas and I am hoping that from your experience you can clear up for us. In order to apply from within Australia, we would sell up in South Africa and make the journey over, I would enter Australia on a visitors visa which would grant me 3 months stay in Aus, during these 3 months we will be able to establish a base in Aus and my wife would start the process of securing work. Would I be able to submit my 820/801 application while in Australia on the visitors visa? How long does it take after submission for the 820 temp permit to be granted?

    From my understanding, should the 820 visa be granted and come into effect upon the expiration of the visitors visa, that would allow me to live and work in Australia until I have received the outcome of the 801 visa which can take upwards of 19 months.

    You mentioned that you were issued with a bridging visa, does this visa allow for you to stay, not work, in Australia during the time that the visitors visa has expired and you are awaiting the issuing of the 820 visa? These timeframes will be useful in determining how long we will need to wait before I am eligible to work after making the initial move from South Africa to Australia in order to submit the 820/801 application from within Australia.

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      March 7, 2019 at 3:36 pm

      Hi Juan,
      I’m so glad you found the article informative. There’s a few questions here so I’ll do my best to answer them but keep in mind I am not a migration agent so this is just from my own personal experience 🙂
      Ok, so you can apply for the partner visa if you enter Australia on a visitors visa, but there are some suggestions that this method is frowned upon (although I personally didn’t find that and this was the method that my partner used). I think it probably pays to be cautious and perhaps say when you arrive that you’re planning on coming for a holiday, instead of explicitly stating that you’re here to apply for a visa.
      Now, the timeline for the visas have really stretched out since I applied, so I can’t help all that much in that regard. What I can do is clear up a misconception I often see. If you apply for the temp partner visa on the three month visitors visa, you will be automatically moved to a bridging visa when your visitors visa expires. You cannot work on a visitors visa, but in many cases you can work on a bridging visa depending on the type you get. This differs as far as I’m aware depending on your country of origin so you’ll want to see what it is for South Africa. My partner is British and went from a visitors visa to a bridging visa with work rights after three months. The bridging visa does not have an expiry date, but you cannot travel outside of Australia on this visa (although you can apply for another visa that allows you to leave the country if you need to). While you can work on the bridging visa, it isn’t always super easy to find work as many employers view the visa as temporary, but that’s another story.
      While you’re on the bridging visa your application will be processed and after a certain amount of time (ours took just over 12 months) if all goes to plan you will be approved for your temporary visa. Then, two years to the day that you applied for that temporary visa (not two years to the day that it was approved) you can add additional information and apply for your permanent visa, which will then take even more time to be processed. However, I notice now that the processing time for the temporary visa is up to 26 months for 90% of applications, so I’m not sure how the two year window works if you haven’t yet been approved for your temporary visa. Sadly, it is not a fast journey!
      I hope this information helps! If you need more information, the Australia Forum is also full of people who are working towards getting this and other similar visas, and they may have more updated information too!
      O.

      • Reply
        Kamelia
        March 24, 2019 at 4:38 pm

        Hi O, did you get finally your PR or not yet? I’m in the same case, applied on 7th March 2017 and still nothing. Thank you for the article and thanks for the information. Kam.

        • Reply
          Oceana Setaysha
          March 27, 2019 at 8:18 am

          Hey Kamelia,
          My partner Dean did end up getting his PR about this time last year, there’s a post on it here. There are so many variables in terms of application, and I’m not 100% sure if you mean you applied for your permanent visa in 2017 or made your original application then. If it is the former, double check if your country of origin is considered by the Australian Government to be ‘high risk’ and I would probably attempt to follow up. Alternatively, get onto the Australia forum and see what the processing times are like for other applicants in a similar circumstance or from the same country.
          Good luck!

  • Reply
    Fatma Oksuz
    February 1, 2019 at 10:02 am

    I applied 801 August 2016 and still waiting 🙁

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      February 3, 2019 at 3:14 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear that Fatma. From what I can gather it seems as though the processing times for the application have increased considerably over the last few years and applicants are definitely starting to feel the effects of this. I hope you head back soon!
      O.

  • Reply
    Nathalia
    January 29, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    Hi, my partner and I applied for 801 in July last year and still waiting, which is not a surprise as we were told by the Inmigration agent that it is taking about a year. Got a question if you do not mind me asking: we have not provided any additional documents after our agent lodged everything in July 2018, but reading some of the posts, it looks like you can lodge new documents and actually it does help on the process of the application? If so, what kind of information would be good to provided? Thank you so much for your posts and any advice you guys can give

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      February 3, 2019 at 3:09 pm

      Hey Nathalia. We didn’t use an agent so I’m not 100% sure about whether they’re happy for you to take your application into your own hands or not. We uploaded documents to our application on a semi-regular basis, usually when things changed. So if we moved house we would upload our new (jointly signed) lease. If we made a large purchase (we bought a car) we uploaded this information and explained how it showed our relationship was genuine and continuing, that we were financially in partnership, all things like that. You can add documents at any time as far as I’m aware, and I certainly don’t think that it hurts your application, although having not spoken to a migration agent myself I don’t know how much it helps either.
      Good luck!

      • Reply
        Ali Pollock
        March 1, 2019 at 1:44 am

        Hi There . Just a Question, Im on temporary visa which will be 2 years this april 2019. My question is Do I have to wait for the Immigration government to send me message that I can now apply for 801 or I can just apply anytime when that time come? Hope to hear from you. Cheers.

        • Reply
          Oceana Setaysha
          March 7, 2019 at 3:26 pm

          Hey Ali!
          I never heard from the government telling me to apply. Don’t wait for them! Just apply as soon as you’re eligible, which is 2 years from the time you submitted your first application 🙂
          O.

  • Reply
    Alysta
    November 25, 2018 at 11:42 pm

    Omg. First of all, my heart goes to those who are still waiting for an answer. My husband and I plan to apply in February 2019 ( it’s expensive, eh!). I am from Mauritius Island and I got denied a tourist visa twice because they did not think my request was genuine ( it really was at that time). My husband and I were in a long distance and he wanted me to visit Australia before making up our minds on where we would finally settle. Anyway, since they denied the tourist, he came to me, we got married and we moved to Prague. I am happy to spend the next years of my life in Europe but the family in Australia is pressuring us into applying. Tbh, I was quite turned off by the fact that they rejected my tourist application even though I had all the appropriate letters from HR saying that I had time off etc ( I had been working in that company for 6 years and had my own portfolio to handle with sensitive french military information, my company would have sued me if I didn’t go back and they stated it in my letter for tourist visa application). After reading all your stories, I am beginning to wonder if it’s worth all the stress and money. I wish you all good luck with your applications. I am sorry for my rambling.

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      November 27, 2018 at 9:32 am

      Thanks for sharing your story Alysta. I also know a number of people who have been rejected for tourist visas with that kind of ample evidence, it really shows sadly the level of distrust that Australian officials level at travellers and visitors. I wish you all the best should you choose to make an application, and hope that the resources here are of use to you if that is your decision!
      O.

  • Reply
    Amy Robee
    August 28, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    You will be surprised but my partner and I applied at the same time as you guys and still waiting. surprisingly every time I check with the department the time frame increases by another 2-3 months.
    Initially, it was 15 month then 18, then became 21 months and currently 24 months. This is preventing me from landing in a good job and when I wanted to do a degree the institute charges me international student fee….. 🙁
    I don’t mind waiting but the trouble with chasing career through this wait is the frustrating me.

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      August 29, 2018 at 8:08 am

      Wow Amy that does surprise me! I really have no idea exactly the mechanics of how they prioritise applications, but I know that country of origin, quality of application (in terms of volume of evidence provided) and (unfortunately) timing all make a difference. I remember too well the struggle that my partner faced trying to get good employment during the waiting period! Very frustrating. I really hope that you hear something soon!
      O.

  • Reply
    Khann
    August 4, 2018 at 7:50 am

    Hi I applied for partner visa 820/801 in October 2017 I did not hear anything yet. Migration agent is doing my case. I provided everything to the department but still pending no response from them. The time I applied for partner visa I was on BVA which alternatively put me on schedule 3 bar.
    My relationship started with my partner in 2015 I started living with my partner from November 2016 I got married in September 2017 I got a baby in January 2018.
    My question how do you guys see this case.

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      August 25, 2018 at 9:24 pm

      Hi Khann. As I’m not a migration agent, I really can’t comment on any individual case. However, as you already have a migration agent on your side, I have my fingers crossed for you.

  • Reply
    Erik
    April 3, 2018 at 1:26 am

    Im from Germany applied on 05 March 2016 for 801 and still waiting. The guidline is 23 months for 90% of applications but it can take much longer than that.

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      April 3, 2018 at 9:03 am

      Wow that is a really long wait Erik, do you happen to know why your application is taking so long? Have you perhaps followed up with the department, or is your application considered high-risk or complex?

  • Reply
    Shairah
    March 28, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    We are in the same boat!

    Applied for my hub 309 in Jul 2013. it was a breeze. Approved in 3 weeks time because I was 7 months pregnant with our 1st daughter. We missed out the letter they sent in Jun 2015. Although we updated all mailing address should be Australia, not sure why they posted the mail to overseas address. There was no email nor notification at all. Hence we only submitted his 100 Stage 2 a year later (Aug 2016)!! And now still waiting. By now We already have 3 kids 😂😂. It is so hard as we are trying to find a financier that can accept spouse visa since we are purchasing our first home.

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      March 28, 2018 at 6:38 pm

      That must be so complicated! We often worried about how long it would take for ours to be approved if we wanted to buy a house. As it happens ours was recently approved (https://mapsandmandalas.com/travel/approved-820-801-australian-partner-visa/), but it turns out we’re far too poor to buy a property anyway 🤣 I haven’t heard of too many people going through the 309/100 route, most of the people I’ve encountered are doing the 820/801. Good luck, I hope you hear something soon!

  • Reply
    Kate
    March 1, 2018 at 9:53 am

    Hi, I applied 801 visa on 15 of march 2016 still waiting. Is I am very late. Anyone waiting this long. Really worry.

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      March 2, 2018 at 8:48 am

      Hey Kate,
      We applied for our 801 on the 25th March 2017 and expect to hear from them sometime after August/September of 2018 so yes, that does seem pretty late. Have you looked at your immi account and seen if there is anything there updated? I think it might be worth attempting to make a call to the department for a wait time that long. That being said, I have heard that wait times for people from high risk countries can be much higher, so that’s worth considering too.
      O.

    • Reply
      Liz
      March 7, 2018 at 6:48 am

      Hi i applied in 2016 too . Still waiting . Where are you from ? Its frustrating i know

  • Reply
    Liz
    February 22, 2018 at 8:48 am

    You guys compain you applied 2017 and didnt hear. I applied 2016 and still waiting its gonna be over 16 month now . When people complain coz they applied 2017 and still waiting i want to cry. I have nighmares sometimes not knowing what will happen with my future and fiance. But immigration dont care.

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      February 22, 2018 at 8:55 am

      We aren’t really complaining Liz, each of us can only talk about our own experiences and yes it does feel like a very long time for all of us. I know people who applied before us who are still waiting, and people who applied after us who already have their visas. When it comes down to it, year makes less of a difference than month. We applied March 2015 for our original 820 visa, which makes March 2018 a three year or 36 month wait with probably another 5-10 months more minimum, and yes that is a long time. I hope that none of us will need to wait too much longer, but as you say immigration certainly don’t appear to be rushing themselves so all we can do is wait.

      • Reply
        Liz
        February 22, 2018 at 9:14 am

        Thanks for reply. Yes this is why im very upset in terms of few of my friends applied after me and they all got their visa before me, but main reason for that was they both had children from relationship. And one of them didnt even submit right from the start. Couldnt attach but they made her wait few month and she got it with attaching only one sentence . Not fair

        • Reply
          Oceana Setaysha
          February 23, 2018 at 10:22 am

          Yes it’s hard to feel as though the system is fair when there doesn’t seem to be much of a pattern on how things go in terms of timelines etc. That’s why I always try not to compare my timeline with other people, because I don’t know their relationship history and the process they went through to get the visa. People apply from different streams i.e. tourist, PMV, student etc, and I’m sure all that changes the timeline.
          O.

  • Reply
    David
    December 8, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Hi,

    I also applied for my 801 visa in March 2017. I was just granted it today. Hopefully you get yours soon. I saw your blog a few months back when I was googling why it was taking so long.

    Cheers,
    David

    • Reply
      Oceana Setaysha
      December 9, 2017 at 5:22 am

      Hey that’s fantastic news! I’m so happy to hear that you got your visa, and exciting that your application time was so close to ours! Did you apply at the start or the end of March if you don’t mind my asking? Fingers crossed we also hear something soon!
      O.

      • Reply
        David
        December 9, 2017 at 11:22 am

        I applied March 28th. I’m from Canada. I came originally on a subclass 300(PMV) which was granted in a few days after applying. The 820 took about a month after applying. The 801 took around 9 months after I applied. The whole process took 3 and half years. I forget to provide a stat Dec from my wife and they called her at work yesterday. They asked her a few questions and my 801 was granted a couple hours later. I’ve also been adding documents to the original application every few months. I heard it helps.

        • Reply
          Oceana Setaysha
          December 11, 2017 at 6:27 pm

          Interesting. We went straight from tourist to Bridging, then to 820 which is where we remain. It just goes to show how different each person’s visa story is, and how people often go about getting the same visa in different ways. We’ve continued to add information to the visa over the months, but it does sometimes feel as though nobody is looking! Fingers crossed it comes sooner rather than later.

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