Planning to get married?
The prospective marriage visa, or subclass 300 visa, is mostly suitable for applicants from higher risk countries, which are determined by the Department of Home Affairs. If you are from a higher risk country, you are not eligible to apply for fast-track visitor visas (which are typically granted within a few days). Applicants from high risk countries also have a higher chance of receiving a visitor visa refusal. Visa refusals will cause unnecessary delays to your building a life with your partner in Australia, and also may impact future visa applications.
This is an offshore visa, which means that it has to be applied from outside of Australia. It can only be granted when the visa applicant is offshore.
You may include your dependent children as part of this application. All applicants of this visa must satisfy health and character requirements.
We frequently get questions from visa applicants who are in a de facto relationship with their Australian partner, but are unsure of whether to apply for the prospective marriage visa or the offshore partner visa as they are both offshore visas.
Visa application charges are paid directly to the Department of Home Affairs.
The visa application charge for the main visa applicant is $7715.
Dependents applicants over 18 incur an additional visa application charge of $3860.
Dependents applicants under 18 incur an additional visa application charge of $1935.
Following the grant of your prospective marriage visa, if you are looking into applying for a subclass 820/801 partner visa, you will also be paying an additional subsidised fee for each visa applicant.
Subclass 309/100 offshore partner visa or Subclass 300 prospective marriage visa?
We usually get asked why one would apply for a prospective marriage visa over an offshore partner visa, and the differences between them.
When it comes to applying for prospective marriage visa, there is a lower evidentiary burden on the household aspects of the relationship, as compared to that of an offshore partner visa. You and your partner need not to have lived together for at least 12 months prior to lodging the application.
Therefore, for couples who choose not to living together prior to getting married due to personal or cultural reasons still have a way to have their non-Australian partner live in Australia.
This however does not mean less evidence for a prospective marriage visa application.
"Lower evidentiary burden" for prospective marriage visa
Many offshore applicants face the challenge of having to be temporarily apart from their Australian partner. Couples in these situations usually struggle with proving that the time apart is indeed temporary, or that there is long-term commitment between the couple.
Even though the visa applicant and the Australian partner for a subclass 300 prospective marriage visa application are not spouses at the time of applying for the visa, the Department will assess the relationship and determine the extent to which the four factors may be applied to suggest a future intention to be spouses.
Where the marriage is arranged by relatives, friends or brokers, the case officer would look more deeply into whether real consent was present between the couple to marry.
Case officers also have access to their internally sourced country profiles on the cultures and traditions across the world to check if your relationship is congruent with that of your country's. If you are concerned that your circumstances may be unique, it is best that you bring the case officer's attention to it. For instance, if it is within your country's tradition for the groom to meet the bride's parents prior to engagement or marriage and you have not done so, it will be helpful to explain why that is the case for you.
Huzzah! On 9 December 2017, Australia has officially recognised same-sex marriages as legal. If you are in a same-sex relationship and are getting engaged, you will be free to organise a wedding in Australia (or somewhere else where your marriage is also legally recognised) and look into applying for a prospective marriage visa.
Current processing times for the prospective marriage visa are advertised to be between 19 to 24 months for 90% of submitted applications. We have seen prospective marriage visa applications granted in just under 12 months.
We strongly recommend you submit a complete and decision-ready application to help minimise processing times.
Some limitations apply to you upon visa grant
When you receive your prospective marriage visa, you are required to enter Australia by a prescribed date. You are also required to marry within 9 months from the date that your visa is granted*.
Once you have done the above, you may look into applying for the subclass 820/801 partner visa. This is the second stage for you to acquire your permanent residence. As described above, there is a higher evidentiary threshold for this visa application.
*Applicants who have had their subclass 300 visas granted between 06 October 2020 and 10 December 2020 and were outside Australia on 10 December 2020 may travel to, enter and remain in Australia until 31 March 2022. This means that you will have additional time to plan and conduct your wedding. This specific group of applicants will not be required to marry within 9 months of the visa grant.
When you mix love and bureaucracy: how the Department of Home Affairs looks at your supporting evidence
When you recount on a certain aspect of your relationship as required by the law, case officers look at all surrounding evidence to prove that aspect. For instance, if you have gone on a holiday with your partner or spouse, case officers will not only look at your photos and flight tickets, but also witness statements, your statutory declarations and possibly more.
Whether a visa gets granted or refused is largely determined by how well the visa applicant and sponsor satisfy the requirements imposed by the relevant legislations, such as the Migration Act 1958 and Migration Regulations 1994.
Some of these requirements are not defined by legislation. They cannot be defined, just as how love cannot always be put into words. For some, their same-sex relationships are still forbidden in their home countries. For others, their relationships may have ended at one point and resumed later on due to unique personal circumstances.
Policy documents released by the Department of Home Affairs tend to elaborate on the legislative requirements. Where policy is ambiguous, relevant tribunals and courts may have had something to say on the subject.
Case officers however, do not go out of their way to prove your relationship for you. You will need to do the hard work of putting it to them.
Given the way the law is framed around qualifying partner and spousal relationships, there is no "perfect" relationship that immediately fits the bill. All relationships have unique characteristics that make them genuine.
Why do subclass 300 prospective marriage visas get refused?
One of the most problematic reasons causing visa refusals is inconsistency. Some common examples of inconsistencies include those between:
- the account of the sponsor (Australian partner) and the visa applicant
- the statements of appointed witnesses and the evidence provided by the sponsor and the visa applicant
- the application form and the evidence provided
- any information provided in the visa applicant's previously submitted application and even in the visa applicant's incoming passenger cards
Any inconsistency can potentially trigger the application of Public Interest Criterion 4020 within the migration regulations, which mandates refusal of visa application or cancellation of visa (of the visa sponsor).
A more common reason for refusal would be providing insufficient evidence. This does not mean that you should now upload all 9999 photos of you and your partner, all of your shopping receipts, 50 pages of statutory declaration and everything or anything about your relationship that you can think of. Remember that the Department of Home Affairs looks at how well your evidence align with each requirement as set out by the relevant legislations, as we discussed above.
What are my chances?
We have summarised in a quick list for you to check whether your relationship meets the requirements:
Department of Home Affairs requires the both of you to show that you:
- Have met in person after turning 18
- Have a certain level of contact and know each other well
- See the relationship as a long-term one
- Consent to the marriage
- Have a genuine intention to marry
- Intend to live together as spouses
- Plan to have the marriage take place within the visa period
- Comply with your respective traditions and cultures (if any) or if not, the reasons for deviating from those traditions and cultures
Both the applicant and sponsor must also meet independent character requirements. The applicant must also meet health requirements.
Where you have doubts about whether you do meet the eligibility requirements and have a good chance of receiving a visa grant, it is always best to seek tailored advice from an experienced registered migration agent with reference to the most up-to-date immigration policies and legislative provisions.
Upcoming: split-sponsorship provisions
The Department of Home Affairs has informed us of some upcoming changes to partner visa program. Once the new changes are in effect, the Australian sponsor to lodge and receive an approval of their sponsorship application before the visa applicant can lodge a partner or prospective marriage visa application. This means that without an approved sponsorship application from an Australian sponsor, it will no longer be possible for the visa applicant to lodge a visa application first as they have always been able to.
Those who could be affected the most by these changes are sponsors who have criminal history. Applicants who are already in Australia with an upcoming visa expiry can also be affected by this change.
Legislation in relation to the split-sponsorship provisions have already come into effect, but the Department of Home Affairs has not applied these changes to the partner visa program yet.
Visa Application Charge VAC Waiver
Due to the impacts of coronavirus-related travel ban, the Department of Home Affairs has released a statement on 12 Oct 2020 stating that VAC Refunds will be available for subclass 300 visa holders who have been unable to enter Australia before the expiry of their visa due to the travel ban.
Travel ban exemption application
There is a travel ban put in place as a result of the global pandemic. Based on the current rules, offshore-based immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents may have reasonable prospects of success in travel ban exemption application. Fiancés/fiancées in most circumstances, especially where they do not satisfy de facto requirements, may not be considered as "immediate family members" for the purposes of the travel ban exemption application, and as such, may find it difficult entering Australia in today's climate even with a visa grant. The writer strongly recommends that one takes into account both the chances of success in a travel ban exemption application and a visa application when considering what visa to apply for. This is because one can receive a visa grant, but not a travel ban exemption application due to various reasons.
Possibility of having prospective marriage visa granted onshore?
Update on 12 February 2021: Prospective marriage visas typically can only be granted when the applicant is offshore. However, in view of the impacts caused by the border closures due to covid, the Department of Home Affairs has announced that temporary concessions may be made for prospective visa applicants who are in Australia and are unable to travel offshore to have their visa application granted while they are onshore. This concession will be implemented on 27 February 2021.
To clarify or plan ahead before these legislative requirements apply to partner and prospective marriage visas, seek professional advice now with a registered migration agent.
At Kin Migration, we are centred on providing timely and tailored support. Book your Strategy Session for:
- Detailed advice from an experienced Registered Migration Agent on the critical requirements applicable to you and your significant other
- Expert guidance on how to make the best of your evidence
- Discover short-term and long-term risks with each option available to you
- A strict focus on the most straightforward pathway to permanent residency
Disclaimer: The content on this page does not constitute legal or immigration advice. For advice on your specific circumstances, please book a Strategy Session here to speak to our Australian-registered migration consultant.