Adding your partner onto your visa
WHEN TWO BECOME ONEEEEEE 👩🎤👨🎤
So you have met someone on a temporary visa in Australia and you want to be able to stay here together after their visa expires. Is it possible?
Fear not friends, there are options for your partner that don’t involve taking on a separate student visa.
If you are in a committed de facto relationship, you may be able to add them onto your student visa (and most other permanent and temporary visas for that matter) even if you have already sent off your application or had your visa granted. They will be under the same conditions you have on your visa, except that they do not have to undertake a course of study.
What that means is that they may only be permitted to work for 40 hours every fortnight, and may only begin working once you have started your course. Unless you are studying a masters’ degree or higher, in which case your partner will have full time working rights. It’s important to note that working rights are discretionary and are granted on a case-by-case basis by the case officer looking after your application.
What’s the advantage of adding your partner on to your visa instead of them taking out a separate student visa?
The biggest advantage would be not having to pay the costs of 2 separate courses.
The fee for being added as a dependant on a visa is also cheaper than the cost of a primary
applicant on a student visa.
What are the disadvantages of both being on a single visa rather than 2 separate visas?
The biggest disadvantage of course would be that the secondary applicant would lose their visa if the primary applicant lost their visa for breaching any of their visa conditions.
They would also lose their visa if the couple broke up. NOTE that as part of your visa conditions, you must immediately notify immigration if there are any changes to the family unit.
Finally, Overseas Student Health Care (OSHC) is more expensive as a couple plan that 2 single plans would be. If you have your partner added to your application as a secondary applicant, you MUST take out a Couple’s OSHC plan, otherwise your insurance may not cover you.
There are of course implications for being added onto someone else’s visa. For example, if you two break-up, the person who is not the primary applicant will no longer be considered as in a de-facto relationship with the primary applicant and will therefore lose their visa.
This means that they may either need to leave the country, or, depending on their situation may be able to apply for another visa.
What is a committed, de-facto relationship?
Usually you prove a de facto relationship if you have lived with your significant other for at least 12 months and can provide evidence that demonstrates that you have a commitment to a shared life together. This means that you share the same primary address. It could also mean that you have a shared bank account and can provide other means of proof of relationship including; flight tickets, holiday bookings, tickets to theme parks, cinemas together etc. and have messenger and other social media messengers to each other that prove that you are in a committed relationship.
By ‘Committed relationship’, the Department of Immigration needs to see that you are in a monogamous partnership, sorry our polygamous friends!
List of supporting documents that demonstrates evidence of your relationship an be found here
What if you and your partner have not been living together for 12 months?
There are other ways to prove your partnership, such as registering your relationship. This is an easy and cost-effective way to prove your relationship especially if you have not lived together for 12 months yet.
When can I add my partner onto my visa application?
If you are eligible, you can add your partner onto your visa before and after lodgement. It is better if you can add your partner before you lodge your visa, as there is an extra fee to add them after your visa is lodged. However, you can add them onto your visa at any stage in the process.
How much will it cost to add my partner as a secondary applicant on my visa?
The cost for adding your partner onto your visa will vary depending on whether you add them before or after your visa is lodged. If you add them before you lodge, it’ll cost you $470* AUD on top of your primary applicant visa costs. If you add them after, it will cost you $630*.
*Charges true as of 22nd October 2021
How long does it take to approve someone as a secondary applicant?
It can often take 1-6 months to get a secondary applicant approved. This is usually dependant on the assessment level of the primary applicant. However, it could also vary depending on Immigration Department delays and changes. With the COVID pandemic for example, you can expect much longer waiting periods.
How long will a secondary applicant’s visa be granted for?
The secondary applicant’s visa will expire on the same day as the primary applicant’s visa, regardless of the time remaining on it or how much time has been used.
I need to lodge my student visa but I am not sure if I want to add my partner on to it yet, what should I do?
Easy! You may declare your boyfriend/girlfriend on your visa as a de facto partner, without adding them as a secondary applicant. If you do not name them as a de facto partner when you lodge your initial application it will be more complicated (but not impossible) to add them as a secondary applicant on your visa later.
What if this is not my first visa application and I did not declare my partner on a previous application?
You may be able to declare your partner on your most recent visa even if you hadn’t declared them on your previous visa, however, immigration may question why you didn’t list them as a de facto partner previously.
You will need to have a good explanation for this, as simply saying “I forgot” or “I didn’t realise I needed to” won’t fly with the officials. Remember that it is an offence to knowingly submit false or misleading information on your application.
No matter how long you have actually been together, you will need to provide sufficient evidence that you meet the de facto relationship requirements (See ‘What is a committed, de facto relationship?” above).
What if my partner is currently studying but wants to join me as a de fact partner on my visa instead?
You may be able to add your partner as a secondary applicant onto your visa even if they already have an active student visa. In this case, once your partner has been successfully granted a secondary applicant visa on your visa, they no longer need to attend their course or continue to pay tuition fees at their institution. In this case, they must let their educational institution know that they are no longer wanting to remain enrolled at the school. They must let their provider know with enough notice (within the agreement they signed with the school) in order to avoid paying any extra term fees. This is usually 2-4 weeks before the start of the next term if you are paying per term.
Remember it’s important not to revoke your enrolment before your secondary applicant visa is granted as this could out you in breach of your current visa conditions which would put you in trouble with immigration.
It is quite common from a partner in a relationship to no longer wish to study. This could be for a number of reasons, including making the couple’s stay in Australia more affordable, with only having to pay for 1 set of course fees, or to support their partner with their studies if they are undertaking a workload intensive course such as a PhD. Sometimes the reason can be as simple as no longer wishing to study that course or finding a related online course cheaper (one that is not CRICOS approved). Whatever the reason is, make sure that you have sought legal advice from a migration lawyer or agent before cancelling your course or your student visa.
NOTE that it’s very important not to cancel your visa before having applied for an alternate visa, as this would make you unlawful in Australia and would restrict your options for staying in Australia. Becoming unlawful also has implications for future visas and could make future applications more difficult.
I had to show evidence that I could support myself when I applied for my student visa, will my partner have to provide evidence too?
Put simply, yes. If you as the main applicant are from an assessment level 2 or 3 country and
were required to provide proof of financial resources as part of your application, your partner will also need to provide evidence that they are able to support themselves for the duration of their time in Australia, even if they are from a level 1 assessment country and would not normally need to provide evidence.
What level will my partner be assessed at if we are from countries of differing assessment levels?
Regardless of the country of nationality of your partner, they will be assessed at the same level as the primary applicant. This means that if you are from a level 1 country, they will be assessed as if they are also from a level 1 country, even if they are from a level 3 country.
However, it also means that if you as the primary applicant are from a level 3 country, your partner will be assessed as a level 3 applicant even if they are from a level 1 country.
Remember, that the advice we give is always general in nature. The ability for an individual to be able to add a dependant onto their visa is always specific to their particular circumstances.
Send us a message or give us a call to find out if you and your partner are eligible or if you have any other questions or concerns.
As always, our advice is free.