Do you need a Same-sex Partner Visa to bring your Partner to Australia? This article has everything you need to know to bring your same-sex partner to Australia

In this article I discuss

  • what a same-sex visa is
  • how the law has changed regarding same-sex visas
  • the requirements for a same sex visa; and
  • some essential tips to make your same-sex visa application a success.

Same-sex Partner Visa for Australia

March is Mardi Gras time all over Australia. This is a time when the Australian LGTB community celebrate. It’s a great party. The Mardi Gras parade is a huge event. It has become world famous.

Any time of year is wonderful when you’re with the one you love. If you have a partner that lives overseas, there has never been a better time for them to visit Australia. If you ar thinking about getting a Partner visa, it’s worth getting some advice.

What is a Same-sex Partner Visa?

A same-sex Partner Visa is a Partner visa for a same-sex couple. Up until 2018, same-sex couples had different rules apply to their visa applications. This is because same-sex marriage was not yet legal.

In November 2017, the Australian public voted overwhelmingly to legalise same-sex marriage. Soon after the law was passed. The result for visa applicants is that the rules for same-sex couples changed overnight.

Same-sex Partner Visa before 2018

Before the change in the law, same-sex couples faced restrictions on the visa they could apply for. Marriage was not legal and so this limited the Partner visa options. Fiance visas were also not possible because same-sex couples could not marry.

Same-sex Partner Visa now

After the leglisation of same-sex marriage in Australia, it became possible for same-sex couples to apply for all the same visas that were available to hetro couples.

Fiance visas are now possible for same-sex couples because it is possible for them to be married.

Partner visas can now be applied for once married because marriage is now legal and recognised in Australia.

Bring your Same-Sex Partner to Australia

To bring your same-sex partner visa to Australia, most people start with a visitor visa. Then when your partner is in Australia you can apply for permanent residence.

Visitor Visa for Same-sex Partner

Start with a visitor visa and have your same-sex partner stay with you in Australia for at least three months. During this time you can live together – even get married. Once you have lived together for at least six months, you then qualify for a Partner visa.

Partner Visa for Same-sex Partner

Applying for the partner visa while your same-sex partner is in Australia means they can stay. It takes about two years for a Partner visa to be decided. So if you want your same-sex partner to stay with you all this time, this is the way to do it.

Australian Same-sex Partner Visa

If your same-sex Partner is not Australian then you will need a same-sex Partner visa to let them live with you permanently in Australia.

There is a lot of information out there about same-sex Partner visas. Most is outdated or simply false. This article, written by our Senior Immigration Lawyer, looks at your same-sex Partner visa options, and the key considerations when preparing for your Same-sex Partner visa application.

Why do I need a Same-sex Partner Visa

There are many reasons to apply for a Same-sex Partner visa. It lets your Same-sex Partner stay with you in Australia. There is also full work rights and Medicare. A Same-sex Partner visa also lets you to bring children permanently to Australia.

Most couples will apply for a Same-sex Partner visa so that they can live together. They need a permanent visa. Although a visitor visa can be granted up to a twelve-month stay, you normally still have maximum stays of three months.

It is inconvenient, not to mention expensive, to have your same-sex Partner return to their home country every three months. Many will prefer to apply for the same-sex Partner visa.

Live Together in Australia

Same-sex Partner visas let you live in Australia. Provided you are sponsored by your same-sex Partner. When you hold a same-sex Partner visa you can leave Australia and return. So, the visa allows you freedom to come and go. Freedom you do not have with visitor visas – where you need to re-apply each time.

Too Many Visitor Visas

Most couples will start with a visitor visa. Then she will come to Australia for a holiday. Normally three months. You might get another visitor visa. But soon it will become obvious to Immigration that you are not really a tourist. What you are doing is using visitor visas to live in Australia. To live with your same-sex Partner.

You cannot keep getting visitor visas. Immigration will refuse your visitor visa application. If they think you are abusing the visitor visa system.

If you are living in Australia on a visitor visa. Then you should consider applying for a same-sex Partner visa. Because your next visitor visa application is likely to be refused. For reasons relating to your using the wrong visa to live in Australia.

Twelve-Month Visitor Visa

There is much confusion about how long you can have your same-sex Partner stay in Australia on a visitor visa. The law says that she can stay no longer than 12 months. However, it is not that simple.

After a 12-month stay you can then wait 6 months before applying. But the problem is that Immigration will see that you are using visitor visas to live in Australia. So this is risky.

Married couples who have already applied for their Same-sex Partner visa are likely to get a more generous visitor visa.  So, if you are heading towards 12 months already on a visitor visa. Then this is you best option. Apply for the same-sex Partner visa and then you be allowed another visitor visa.

This way you can show Immigration you are not trying to use the wrong visa. You have applied for the Same-sex Partner visa already.

All you want to do is come to Australia while you wait. Normally you will get a further 12-month visitor visa this way.

Different kinds of Same-sex Partner Visa

There are 4 different Same-sex Partner visas. They are split up between temporary and permanent visas. And again split between applications lodged in Australia and outside.

The Same-sex Partner visa is processed in two stages: temporary and permanent stage. The temporary visa comes first.

Temporary Same-sex Partner Visa

The first step in the process is the temporary visa. It takes 1-2 years to get. Applications outside Australia take around 12 months, while those who apply inside Australia can wait two years for their temporary visa.

Same-sex Partner Visa 309

If your Same-sex Partner is outside Australia when you apply, then the visa you apply for is called Same-sex Partner visa subclass 309.

You will wait around a year for a decision on this visa. Once granted, your Same-sex Partner can come to Australia to live with you.

Many applications for Same-sex Partner visas from Thailand are Same-sex Partner visa 309. This is because Thai nationals are rarely allowed to lodge visa applications in Australia.  This means they must be in Thailand when they apply for their Same-sex Partner visa.

So, the visa they apply for is the 309. If you apply outside Australia then you also must be outside Australia, or you must leave Australia, to receive your visa.

Most Filipino ladies will lodge a Same-sex Partner visa 820 because they are (mostly) allowed to apply for further visas when staying in Australia on a visitor visa.

The advantage of this, as you will see below, is that she then gets to stay in Australia for the two years or so it takes to approve her Same-sex Partner visa.

Same-sex Partner Visa 820

If your Same-sex Partner is in Australia at time of application the visa is called Same-sex Partner visa 820.  The application will take around two years to decide.

There is also some benefits to applying in Australia including getting a Bridging visa so that you can stay, work rights and Medicare.

Bridging Visa

When your same-sex partner applies in Australia, she will get a Bridging visa. This bridging visa allows her to stay in Australia. Up until the same-sex partner visa is approved.

While she stays, she has full work rights and access to Medicare. So, this can be very beneficial if you want to share the visa application fee.

If your same-sex partner is pregnant and you would like to have Medicare to cover the expenses of the birth, this can be done by making a same-sex Partner visa application.

Move from Fiance Visa to Same-sex Partner Visa

Some people, before getting married, apply for a fiance visa. The fiance visa lets your same-sex Partner come to Australia for 9 months.

During this 9 months you can make plans for your wedding.  You are required to get married during the nine months and then notify Immigration that you are married by supplying your marriage certificate and making a Same-sex Partner visa application.

Advantages of the Fiance Visa

Firstly, the Fiance Visa has a low threshold requirement to apply. You need only have met the person you intend to marry and genuinely intend to marry them.

Compare this with a same-sex Partner visa, where you need to have lived together for 12 months – if you intend to apply on a de facto basis.

Another advantage of the fiance visa is that you can apply for it and then you can get married and upgrade to the same-sex Partner visa free of charge.

All you have to do is supply your marriage certificate to the Immigration Case officer and you will then be considered for the 309 Same-sex Partner visa.

Disadvantages of the Fiance Visa

If you have a Fiance visa already, you then marry and apply for the same-sex partner visa there is an extra fee to be paid to Immigration.

Also, the fiance-Same-sex Partner visa pathway is the slowest way to get your Permanent Residence.

First you will wait about a year to get the Fiance visa. Then you apply in Australia for Same-sex Partner visa 820 which will take around two years and then finally to get your Permanent Residence Same-sex Partner visa 801 will take another year.

So this way of going about things it will take around 4 years from beginning to Permanent Residence.

However, if you consider that you can apply for the Fiance visa very early in your relationship then it does make sense that things should eventually take longer.

Permanent Same-sex Partner Visa

The second stage of the process is the permanent visa.  You will be considered for permanent residence after two years.

Same-sex Partner Visa 100

If you applied for your Same-sex Partner visa outside Australia, then your permanent visa is the 100 visa. This is applied for at the same time as the 309.

After two years you update Immigration on your situation. Telling them if your relationship is still going, or not.

You will present some more up-to-date evidence of your relationship and provide fresh police checks and health examinations.

Waiting time for the time of update is around 12 months.

Same-sex Partner Visa 801

If you applied in Australia, then the permanent visa is the 801 visa.

Once you get your 100 or 801 visa, you are a Permanent Resident of Australia. This means you can stay in Australia for ever. But remember that the travel facility on your visa only lasts 5 years.

Permanent Residents are eligible to apply for Centrelink benefits – see below.

Skipping the Temporary Same-sex Partner Visa

Immigration may consider you for an immediate permanent visa. You must have been in a long-term relationship, that is, a relationship of over 3 years. And that is at time of application.

Having a child to the relationship and a two-year relationship can see you progress to the permanent visa. Without getting the temporary visa first.

This is all at the Department’s discretion though. So, even if you do meet the requirements to skip the temporary stage – immigration can still grant the temporary visa – rather than your permanent residence straight away.

Consider yourself unlucky,  however, there is no right to skip the temporary stage.

Who can apply for a Same-sex Partner Visa?

To apply for a Same-sex Partner visa you must be in a relationship with an Australian. The relationship can be a married relationship or a de facto relationship.

Same-sex couples can apply for a Same-sex Partner visa on a married or a de facto basis.

Marriage Visa

Married couples still apply for a Same-sex Partner visa. Its just that they are married at the time of application. However, just because you are married doesn’t entitle you to an Australian visa.

You must still prove to Immigration that your relationship is real. That you have not married simply to get a visa!

De Facto Visa

De facto couples live together like married couples but have not married … for whatever reason.

It might be that one of you is still married to another person – this makes it impossible to re-marry.

De facto couples need 12 months of living together before they can apply for an Australian Same-sex Partner visa. Unless, they can show exceptional circumstances exist.

Same-Sex Couples

A same-sex couple applies for a Same-sex Partner visa in just the same way. In 2017, Australia legalised same-sex marriage.

This means that same-sex Same-sex Partners can apply once they are married. If they do not plan to marry (or perhaps one is already married) then they can also apply on a de facto basis.

Visitor Visa

If you are in Australia holding a Visitor visa and you want to stay permanently. Then you can apply for a Same-sex Partner visa, provided there is no negative condition on your Visitor visa.

So you need to check your Visitor visa for condition 8503.

If you have condition 8503 on your Visitor visa this means you are prevented from applying for any visa while you stay in Australia.

It is possible to have condition 8503 removed. See this article: Condition 8503 No Further Stay

Sponsorship Requirements

Sponsors must meet certain requirements to qualify to sponsor for a Same-sex Partner visa. The sponsor must be an Australian (or a New Zealander who meets other requirements).

The sponsor must also meet character requirements and must not have already sponsored too many times.

Sponsor Criminal History

If the sponsor has a serious criminal history, they may not succeed in sponsoring their Same-sex Partner.

A serious criminal history means a sentence of over 12 months. However, there are rules where a sponsor with lesser criminal concerns can be barred.

This is a complicated are of the law. Contact us if you have concerns about sponsorship. We can tell you whether you qualify to sponsor your Same-sex Partner for a Same-sex Partner visa.

Sponsorship Limitation

Sponsors cannot keep sponsoring multiple Same-sex Partners. In general, you can only sponsor two Same-sex Partners in a lifetime.

However, this rule can be appealed and there is room for the Immigration Department to accept the sponsorship of someone who is a genuine sponsor and has already sponsored two or more times.

Secondly, there must be five years between the previous application and the grant of a new application. So, by applying in 2015, for example, you can apply for a new Same-sex Partner visa in say 2019 but it cannot be granted until 2020.

Again, this is a little complicated so you should get advice from one of our lawyers or Agents if you are considering sponsoring for a second time.

Waiting for a Same-sex Partner Visa

The waiting time for Same-sex Partner visa decisions is currently between 1 and 2 years. The actual time you will wait can differ for all kinds of reasons.

There are, however, a few things you can do to speed things up:

Bridging Visa

This is a visa that lets her stay in Australia while waiting. You only get it when you apply from inside Australia.

So, unfortunately if your girlfriend is outside Australia – there is no bridging visa.

Relationship Breakdown

An important consideration is what happens to the Same-sex Partner visa application if your relationship breaks down.

Firstly, if your relationship breaks down, with no chance of repair, you must inform Immigration. Otherwise you risk deportation or removal from Australia.

If your sponsor dies during the processing of the application, then you can still get the visa.

If you or your dependent child have suffered violence in the relationship, then there is still a chance you can be granted the visa without the sponsorhsip.

Same-sex Partner Visa Decision

After a long wait, Immigration will make their decision about your visa. If you applied outside Australia, you must leave Australia to receive your decision.

Visa Grant

The approval of your Australian Same-sex Partner visa is a significant achievement. It means you are able to come to Australia to live with your Same-sex Partner.

Remember though that if any of your circumstances change you must tell Immigration.

With a Same-sex Partner visa, you can stay in Australia as long as you want. And you can come and go as you wish.

Visa Refusal

If you receive a refusal, the AAT can review the decision. It is not the end of the road for your Same-sex Partner visa application.

The review will very likely cause the decision maker to reconsider. Most Same-sex Partner visa refusals are reversed at the AAT.


As soon as you have applied for a Same-sex Partner visa you can also apply for Medicare. This can be a godsend for many, particularly if you are pregnant.

Medicare can help pay for doctor’s bills, scans and the stay in hospital at time of birth.

Same-sex Partner visa applicants in Australia as visitors can access Medicare. All you have to do is take your passport and visa notice to the Medicare office.

They will arrange an interim Medicare card for you. Then you just wait about 4 weeks until the real card arrives in the post.

Work Rights

When you make a Same-sex Partner visa application in Australia, you will soon have work rights. As soon as your visitor visa expires – you can work.

You cannot work in Australia on a Visitor visa so wait until your Visitor visa expires to enjoy full work rights.

If you are wanting a Tax File Number then simply contact the Australian Taxation Office.

Pregnant Same-sex Partner

If your wife or girlfriend is pregnant then getting Medicare can be important. After you apply for an Australian Same-sex Partner visa, the applicant is able to apply for Medicare. This means, that even if you apply offshore – Medicare is still available.

When your Same-sex Partner gives birth in Australia, the baby is automatically an Australian citizen.


Australian Permanent Residents can apply for Centrelink benefits. These include payments to assist you with raising a family, disability needs or finding work.

Before you are a Permanent Australian Resident you are not able to apply for benefits. In some cases, having a Same-sex Partner will actually reduce your sponsor’s Centrelink payments. However, its possible as a single person to get the higher rate of benefit.

You should contact us if you would like more information about getting the highest rate of pay from Centrelink while your Same-sex Partner stays with you in Australia.

Get Professional Help

Finally, if you are considering an Australian visa application then get professional help. Immigration will see that you have spent the money to engage a lawyer or Agent. This will, in turn, help your application because it is obvious to the case officer that your relationship must be significant – if you have gone to the trouble of engaging a professional to handle your case.

New Partner Laws Bring New Love

In December 2018, Australia legalised same-sex marriage.  This means that Same-sex Couples Visa applications have changed. They have changed for the better. To make sure your partner gets a partner visa, get an application done by a professional immigration agent.

The application process has changed due to the new laws. Your relationship is worth the investment of professional advice.  Get proper legal help when making your Same-sex Couple Visa application.

Same-sex Marriage in Australia

Australian People voted for marriage changes. Over sixty percent of Australians voted for Same-sex marriage rights. This makes Australia is the second country in the world to vote for Same-sex marriage. The first country was Ireland. Australia had several attempts to change the laws but it wasn’t changed until 2018.

Australian Marriage

This means that Same-sex couples can be recognised as married. Before December 2019 Same-sex couples were recognised in a de facto relationship. An official marriage ceremony in Australia must now state ‘marriage between two people’ instead of ‘marriage between a man and a woman.’ You can’t remarry your partner in Australia. You can have a recommitment ceremony.  Some people have decided to hold recommitment ceremonies so they can celebrate their love in their community.

Popular and friendly Australians

Eleven percent of Aussies identify as LGTB in orientation.  That’s why Rainbow tourism is taking off. Australia has some great LGTB icons and spokespeople as well some of the best Pride festivals in the world. Add to this  Queer Film Festivals and Pride events and you have a year long party. Australia ranks up there as the 5th most tolerant country in the world.

Same-sex Couple Visa brings Rainbow Tourism to Australia

The LGTB dollar is big business for tourism in Australia. You will find Rainbow stickers on many shops, bars and places to stay in Australia. Look out for friendly places like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

You will be well looked after in Australia. There are many places to stay and things to do with your partner. Share happy memories and have quality time together. It truly is a positive time to build your relationship with each other. Enjoy travelling and being together. Rainbow tourism is bigger than ever in Australia.

Country Chill Out

After partying hard at Mardi Gras, many couples take to the road and travel to cute country towns to relax. Daylesford in Victoria, Cairns in Queensland and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory are great places to unwind. Same-sex Partner Visa applications are pricey.  Don’t take chances with your loved ones. It pays to get the best advice from people who specialise in visa applications for same-sex couples. Get the best information on Travel Visa’s with Ozvisa Group.

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