It’s common for DIAC to see a surge in onshore Partner visa applications (Subclasses 820 / TR and 801 / PR) when there are significant changes taking place in other visa programs.
Here of course I mean the significant changes in General Skilled Migration (GSM) program – New smaller Skilled Occupations List (SOL) + New tougher Points Test + multiple changes to Priority Processing + the large group of Priority 5 applicants waiting in limbo + the prospect of the new SkillSelect program (Expressions of Interest) from 1 July 2012. It is also important to see the turmoil that has existed in the International student sector in this light as well – DIAC and the Federal government’s clear policies to cause structural changes in this sector have led to significant falls in enrolments, College closures and a great deal uncertainty for current and potential students. All this leads potential applicants to consider the Partner option if it is available to them.
DIAC have increased the allocation to the Partner visa category by 8% for this year but the surge in applications is running higher than the extra places. This means, other things being equal, slower processing times. Onshore Partner average processing is currently at about 9 months. DIAC in September 2012 were processing cases lodged in November 2010 with 14% of allocated cases being decided in 1 month.
This can all seem confusing and understanding the terminology here is important or rather it’s important not to get confused.
Allocated case – application assigned to a case officer for processing (taken out of the pipeline of lodged applications)
Average processing time – from the date it is allocated to a case officer
The time between lodgement and getting allocated to a case officer – the pipeline of applications
So you lodge the application, wait in the queue, get allocated to a case officer who then assesses the application and makes a decision. So remember there are two time streams running here from when you lodge to when your application is allocated & from when your application is allocated to when a decision is made. The quoted numbers refer to the second time stream.
Rejection rates are at historic highs right now running at 5% for onshore 820 / TR and 7% for onshore 801 / PR. First this is not surprising as there are more applications due to the factors above and some of those will be ‘marginal’ for want of a better word. In addition there has always been a ‘market’ in fraudulent Partner applications but this new rate of refusal is above the long-term average. Second more 801 applications (Second Stage processing) are refused as unfortunately relationships breakdown.
It’s interesting to hear that DIAC have recently made 200 random home visits to applicants for Partner visas – checking to see if the reality matches the paperwork. These visits have led to outcomes that mirror the current higher refusal rates for these visas.
I’m often asked if priority processing is an option for Partner visas. The simple answer is yes and that DIAC will consider requests on a case by case basis. You’re not going to be moved up what is basically a chronological queue just by asking. You’ll need a substantial reason to get processed with priority. This could involve some complex personal or employment circumstance. If you feel you have a case worthy of consideration it does no harm to ask.
The best advice for Partner applications is to do your level best to have every necessary document included when you lodge the application. Make your application DECISION READY. Filling in a few forms, attaching a pile of photos and a relationship registration certificate will guarantee that you’ll be at the long end of the processing timeline. It’s up to you to prove to DIAC that you have a ‘genuine’ relationship!