Visa Update – Permanent Partner Visa now 3+ years processing time.

Parter visa applications

If you’re thinking of applying for a Partner visa from offshore (the Subclass 309) visa, be aware that the Department of Home Affairs global processing times for the permanent stage of the partner visa (the Subclass 100) has now increased to around 39 months from the date you become eligible. This is a significant increase of about 12 months compared to Partner visas where the first stage of the partner visa was lodged while in Australia. The date you become eligible is 2 years from the date you apply for the provisional Partner (Sc309) visa.

An example of the waiting time to expect can be seen below.

Serena, an Australian citizen, married Jay outside of Australia in early 2017. Jay’s timeline for permanent residency in Australia may look like this:


1 January 2017

1 July 2017

31 December 2018

1 July 2019

15 July 2019

1 August 2022

1 October 2022*


Serena and Jay marry outside of Australia

Jay applies for the Partner (Sc309) visa while outside of Australia

Jay’s Partner (Sc309) visa is granted and he enters Australia on the visa

Jay is eligible to apply for the Partner (Sc100) visa (two years from application)

Jay makes an application for the Partner (Sc100) visa

The Department makes a request for further information to process the visa

Jay’s Partner (Sc100) visa is granted

*This date is based on 90% of Sc100 visas being processed within 39 months from the date of eligibility.

As can be seen above, the wait time until achieving permanent residency may be 5 years or more from the date the provisional Partner (Sc309) visa is applied for.

Why is this happening?

A few factors may causing the increase in processing times, including:

  • A high number of applications for the partner visas, and limited resources in the Department to process this large number
  • An Increase in checks by the Department on the visa criteria, including higher scrutiny on the genuineness of the relationship.

What does this mean for me?

The permanent visa can only be granted if the relationship remains genuine and continuing at the time the Department wishes to grant the visa (perhaps 5 years from the application is made). If the relationship breaks down during that time, there are limited circumstances where the permanent visa can still be granted. This can be an especially difficult situation where an applicant has uprooted from another country with the expectation of building a life in Australia, and the relationship breaks down before the permanent visa is granted due to various reasons not within their control.

Our top tips for a smooth Partner visa journey

A popular phrase in criminal law that you may have heard is that an accused person is “innocent until proven guilty”. From our perspective as immigration lawyers and agents, there is an impression that the Department of Home Affairs is taking a stricter “bogus until proven genuine” approach to partner visas. With that in mind, our top tips to avoid any issues and to have the visa processed as smoothly as possible are:

1. Plan ahead, presentation of documents is important!

Case officers for the Department of Home Affair have tens of thousands of applications to process in any given timeframe. They will have a limited time to look at your documents to determine if the relationship is genuine. A strong first impression based on the documentation is key in ensuring a strong application. It is important to ensure you have sufficient evidence to cover the visa criteria. The Department of Home Affairs provides a checklist of documents you can provide on their website. When in doubt, getting professional advice before applying is highly recommended.

2. Apply sooner, rather than later

As a general rule, eligible applicants should lodge the application as soon as eligible to ensure the processing time can start sooner. There are situations where the timing can or should be delayed, such as where key documents are not yet available. We generally review the circumstances of each applicant to ensure the visa is lodged expeditiously.

3. Manage your expectations and timelines

Once you’ve applied for the visas, ensure you’re familiar with what comes next and when! If you are planning on purchasing property or want to work for certain Australian government bodies, you may need to consider the above timelines in your planning.

We understand that the process of applying for a partner visa is a big investment and can be a stressful journey of many years. If you’d like some detailed advice tailored to your situation or assistance with taking the stress out of your application process, we’d be happy to help.

Like to know more?

If you would like further information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please get in touch using the form on this page or book a consultation.