AUSTRALIA: Visa application fees for spouses and partners to increase 50 per cent
What is the change? The Australian Government will sharply raise application fees for Partner and Prospective Marriage visas in the new year.
What does the change mean? Applicants can avoid the increased government application fees if they lodge their applications before 1 January.
- Implementation timeframe: 1 January 2015.
- Visas/permits affected: Partner visas (subclass 801/820), Partner (Provisional and Migrant) visas (subclasses 309 and 100) and Prospective Marriage visas (subclass 300).
- Who is affected: Couples applying in the above categories.
- Impact on processing times: The fee hikes should not have a direct impact on processing times, but could delay the filing of visa applications for couples who cannot afford the higher fees.
- Business impact: The higher cost of bringing a spouse or partner to Australia may impact budgets and may influence decisions by foreign employees to work and live in Australia.
- Next steps: If possible, applicants may want to apply for their Partner or Prospective Marriage visa before the new fees take effect on 1 January. Foreign employees may consult their BAL attorney to explore alternative visas, such as one of the skilled visa streams.
Background: On 15 December, the Government announced 50 per cent higher application fees on most visas for foreign spouses and partners, and justified the increases as a means to fund “whole-of-government policy priorities.”
The Partner visa allows a foreign national in Australia to apply based on marriage or a de facto relationship with an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen. Partner (Provisional and Migrant) visas have similar eligibility criteria, but are for those applying outside Australia to travel and live in Australia. Prospective Marriage visas are for foreign nationals intending to marry an Australian citizen or permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen.
The exact schedule of new fees has not been released, and will depend on individual factors, but the Government said applicants will soon be able to calculate their new fees on the visa-pricing estimator.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection reminded applicants that it neither offers financial assistance nor waives or reduces fees for those who cannot afford the application fees and that all fees must be paid in full before a visa application will be considered.
Foreign employees and eligible Australian and New Zealand applicants planning to bring a foreign spouse or partner to Australia will have to budget for the higher fees or consider other visa options.