The Australian federal government made announcements in their 2020-21 budget which outlined major changes to the migration program.

One of the changes that were announced is that the government has allocated 77,300 places for family visas. This is a significant increase from 47,732 in the previous year.

However, the overwhelming majority of these places will be for the Partner visa program.

In addition to the increase in number of allocations, onshore Partner visa (especially those couples residing in regional areas) will be given priority processing, potentially reducing the lengthy processing times currently predicted for these subclasses.

English Requirement for Permanent Partner Visas

The federal government also noted that a potential change will be the requirement for permanent partner visa applicants to demonstrate they meet an English criteria.

This requirement will not be introduced for any of the temporary partner (subclass 309 or 820) or the prospective marriage (subclass 300) categories.

They have not announced when this change will take effect, nor the level of English they expect the applicant to demonstrate. It can be expected the level will be basic, most likely at a functional level and that the changes will come into effect from 1 July 2021.

There may be an alternative to providing evidence of this English level through undertaking 500 hours of English language classes through the Adult Migration English Program (AMEP).

If you are being sponsored by an Australian permanent resident (who is not an Australian citizen) then they may also need to demonstrate this level of English as part of the permanent processing stage.

Some potential exemptions to the English requirement will be:

  1. You meet the definition of a long-term relationship when you initially apply for the combined Partner visa;
  2. If you hold a passport from USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand or Ireland.
  3. You have already applied for your visa application before the changes come in effect.

If you have any questions or would like to ensure your Partner visa application is lodged prior to these changes, feel free to contact our office to speak to one of our registered migrant agents or immigration lawyers.