COVID-19: Couples living in limbo due to Australia's partner visa backlog

Couples living in limbo as Australia’s partner visa backlog reaches nearly 100,000 applications due to COVID-19

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The world-wide COVID-19 pandemic has had many unintended consequences. One of those is the fact that nearly 100,000 Australians are now in the queue waiting for partner visa grants. This has left thousands of couples in limbo, and sometimes separated for months, while waiting on visa outcomes.

What are couples saying?

Jaskomal Kaur told Australian broadcaster SBS that she hasn’t seen her Melbourne-based husband Aditya Rajput since the couple got married in India in 2019.

Kaur said “It’s been over 15 months and I’m beginning to lose hope of reuniting with my partner. I have spent all my first occasions that are considered auspicious in the Indian culture alone at my parents’ house, instead of celebrating these special moments with Aditya.”

Swapnil Patel and his wife Monika are in a similar situation. The couple applied for a partner visa for Monika last year in June after she arrived in Australia to join Swapnil. Since then the couple have been extending Monika’s stay in the country by applying for new visitor visas.

Patel told SBS that he has spent close to AU$11,000 on visa applications thus far. This includes the partner visa application as well as subsequent visitor visa applications as the visitor visas are only valid for three months at a time.

What is the word from the Australian government?

Labour MP Julian Hill raised the issue of partner visa applications in the Parliament last month. He highlighted the plight of couples being separated and the emotional toll it’s taking on couples. He also called for action from the federal government to address the growing backlog.

When asked for comment by SBS, a spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs assured the broadcaster that although the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the Department’s operations, the Department continues to progress partner visa applications.

The spokesperson also mentioned the fact that some visa applicants are unable to proceed with their applications because services for certain criteria such as health checks and biometrics are unavailable at the moment in their home country. This is again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, the Department of Home Affairs cannot process and finalise visa applications without all the necessary requirements in place.

Why the long wait?

The Kaurs and Patels, and countless other couples like them, have applied for the subclass 309 visa. The Department of Home Affairs states on their website that the processing times for this visa is between 18 months to 26 months.

The duration depends on individual circumstances and the complexity of the application.

The problem now is that while applications are still being submitted, the Department of Home Affairs are operating on a limited basis due to COVID-19. Naturally this means that it’s taking the Department even longer than normally to process visas.

This is our advice if you want to apply for a partner visa……

In a nutshell – speak to an immigration advisor. This is the best way to ensure that you get your partner visa application right. The last thing you want to do in the current climate is cause yourself further delays due to incorrect or missing documents.

Also take into consideration that a partner visa costs from AU$7,715. And that’s the government fees alone! If you don’t get your application right or it’s rejected, you’ll lose all that money.

We have seen that the average processing time for partner visa applications has increased drastically over the past few months. However, if a decision ready application is submitted a direct grant in a shorter period of time can usually be achieved.

Katrin Maja O’Flynn, Intergate Emigration Licensed Agent

Book your consultation today!

If you’d like licensed advice about your partner visa application, simply book a telephone consultation online with Katrin Maja O’Flynn. Katrin is one of our licensed immigration agents and she’ll guide you on the requirements, assess your eligibility and advise on the best way forward.

Here’s what Dale and Kate, recent clients of ours, have had to say after dealing with our team:

Hi Maike, Katrin and Natanya,

This has literally been the most swift and efficient process I have ever experienced in my life. Less than 6 months from start to end…where we were expecting closer to 2 years. You have all been fabulous to work with and trust me, I have already referred many people to you.

I want to thank you so much for all you have done for us and giving us the key to start the chapter of our lives that we have been wanting to start.

Have a great week!

Thanks so much again!

Dale and Kate

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