If you’ve thought about lodging a partner visa application, the odds are good that you’re aware of the long road ahead, gathering all the information you will need to provide to prove your genuine relationship to the Department – financial records, photos, letters, emails, chat transcripts, etc. etc.
And then, of course, the dreaded forms – not to mention all the Form 888 witness statements and other supporting evidence the Department expects you to provide!
By the time you lodge, you can be forgiven for thinking the hard part is over.
In terms of your work, that’s mostly true – the hard part is over. However, unfortunately, lodging your application is only the beginning of another (far longer) journey; the visa processing wait.
Many thousands of partner visa holders can attest to the agony of living in processing limbo. And, worse, there’s little you can do but wait – wait for a case officer to pick up your file, wait for them to consider your documents, wait for them to (likely) request more documents from you, wait for them to make their final decision – wait, wait, wait.
How long will I have to wait?
Processing times have blown out by over a year during 2020/21. At the time of writing this article (updated July 2021), the Department advises that 75% of partner visa applications are processed within:
- Onshore Partner (Subclass 820) – 26 Months
- Offshore Partner (Subclass 309) – 23 Months
- Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 300) – 28 Months
Second stage (permanent visa) processing is currently:
- Subclass 801 – 19 Months
- Subclass 100 – 22 Months
Of course, the practical impact of the wait for the permanent visa is much less than the first stage – as at least you are able to live your life with a great deal less worry an uncertainty for the second stage.
What Can I do to Speed it up?
The Department’s processing times are set and there is no such thing as preferential treatment. We have seen partner visas granted in as little as 4 months, while some – for no clear reason – take even longer than the guidance above.
Sometimes, for applications lodged offshore, processing time is impacted by which post is considering the application. Anecdotally, we have seen processing delays out of Africa and the Middle East, for example.
The only thing you can do to try and help move things along is ensure that your application is as close to ‘decision-ready’ as possible. When the officer picks it up, you want their job to be easy – so don’t leave any big gaps in it (like pending police clearances, for example) that will take time to fill.
If your application is clear, comprehensive and well-presented with all the decision-making boxes ticked, you are likely to receive less thorough, and therefore swifter, visa processing.