Half of all partner visas are refused when not represented by a migration agent

‘Partner visas are easy,’ some visa applicants and their sponsors say, dismissing the need for immigration assistance. The statistics suggest a much different reality.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Department of Home Affairs earlier this year exposed a startling picture on the visa refusal rates of the offshore Subclass 309/100 – Partner and onshore Subclass 820/801 – Partner visa when a migration agent is not appointed (and therefore assumed to have not assisted with the application).

The statistics for the 2015/16 financial year revealed that 63.4% of partner visas lodged did not appoint a migration agent, while in the 2016/17 financial year it was 59.6%. This is not surprising.

What is surprising is the visa refusal rates for unrepresented applicants. In the 2015/16 financial year it was an incredible 53.8%. In 2016/17, it was not much better at 47%. Average both years and it comes to just above half of all do-it-yourself partner visa applications being refused.

What could be the cause of these visa refusals? Many factors come to mind, including:

  • The relationship breaking down before the application was assessed;
  • Evidence was not provided that the relationship was genuine and continuing;
  • For de facto relationships, evidence was not provided that the relationship existed for at least 12 months at the time of application;
  • The visa applicant did not meet the numerous public interest criteria, such as, failing the character test or health requirements;
  • The sponsor did not meet character requirements or are barred from sponsoring;
  • For the 1179 applications lodged in 2015/16 and the 1793 applications lodged in 2016/17 for a Subclass 820/801 – Partner visa where the visa applicant was not holding a substantive visa, not lodging the application within the relevant timeframe (usually 28 days of when their substantive visa expired), or not demonstrating the rather tricky requirement that compelling reasons existed for lodging without holding a substantive visa.

Perhaps the biggest misconception for partner visas is that either a marriage certificate for spouses or a relationship registration certificate for de facto relationships is the only substantial piece of evidence to prove a genuine relationship. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A good migration agent may have steered the application towards satisfying the criteria, or alternatively provided an informed opinion that such an application was likely to be refused. Of course, we will never know.

Those that have been unfortunate enough to have their partner visa application refused, would best need to consider what options they have to redress the situation considering the circumstances. Further information can be found on a page dedicated to when visas are refused.