The Australian government take the safety and security of visa applicants very seriously. To help keep visa applicants safe, new requirements have been introduced for Partner and Prospective Marriage visas. From 18 November 2016, sponsors of these visa applications will need to:
• provide Australian and/or foreign police checks when requested
• consent to us disclosing their convictions for relevant offences to the visa applicant(s).
If the sponsor does not provide this consent, the visa application will be refused. We could also refuse an application if the sponsor does not provide the police checks within a reasonable time. Sponsors can apply for a police check using the application form available from the Australian Federal Police.
A relevant offence is an offence against a law, either in Australia or overseas, involving:
• violence, including murder, assault, sexual assault and the threat of violence
• harassment, molestation, intimidation or stalking
• the breach of an apprehended violence order, or a similar order
• firearms or other dangerous weapons
• people smuggling
• human trafficking, slavery or slavery-like practices (including forced marriage), kidnapping or unlawful confinement
• attempting to commit any of these offences
• aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring such offences.
This does not include convictions for relevant offences that have been quashed or otherwise nullified or pardoned.
A visa application will not be refused if a sponsor has convictions for a relevant offence but does not have a significant criminal record. Any convictions for relevant offences will be communicated to the visa applicant(s) to help them make an informed decision about continuing with their application.
A sponsor is considered to have a significant criminal record if they have been sentenced to:
• imprisonment for life
• a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more
• 2 or more terms of imprisonment, where the total of those terms is 12 months or more.
If a sponsor has convictions for a relevant offence and a significant criminal record, we must refuse the visa unless we assess that it is reasonable not to. When making this assessment, we will consider all the circumstances of the application. This could include, but is not limited to:
• the length of time since the sponsor completed the sentence(s) for the relevant offence(s)
• the best interest of any children of the sponsor or primary visa applicant
• the length of the relationship between the sponsor and primary visa applicant.
If a visa application is refused, the visa application charge will not be refunded.
Applications lodged before 18 November 2016
The changes do not affect visa applications lodged before 18 November 2016, even if your sponsor lodges their sponsorship form on or after 18 November.
If you already hold a Partner (Provisional) visa (subclass 309) or Partner (subclass 820) visa on 18 November 2016 and are waiting for a decision on a Partner (Migrant) visa (subclass 100) or Partner (subclass 801) visa, these changes will not affect you.