According to the statistics, Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has seen a 78% increase in partner visa applications from end of FY2014 to end of FY2015. With those partner visas lodged onshore (i.e. lodged while the applicant is in Australia), there were 1,031 cases where the applicants were in unlawful Australian residency status. Some might just have forgotten to renew their visas, while some might have been unlawful for a period of time. This group of onshore partner visa applications will then subject to a specific assessment of “Schedule 3 Criteria”.

Schedule 3 Criteria permits unlawful non-citizens to apply for a visa in Australia on compassionate or compelling grounds, instead of being required to depart Australia and apply offshore. There is not a set of “examples” for compassionate and compelling grounds, however the ground must be in relation to an Australian citizen or permanent resident, as an individual or a business.

Partner visa, due to Migration Act s.48 and its assessment criteria, has been the best option to those who had been unlawful in Australia and would not (or unable to) return to their home country to apply for an Australian visa. Yet, applications refused based on the applicant unable to satisfy Schedule 3 Criteria has been high, hinting unless you have a strong and touching reason to lodge the visa application onshore, you are likely to get your application refused.

There has been a long-lasting issue regarding the partner visa program being abused by those unlawful applicants (i.e. overly-claimed of Schedule 3 Criteria), leading to prolonged processing times. The current processing time for onshore partner visa (subclass 820) is 12 to 15 months.  DIBP has heightened its focus on community protection risks & checks on certain applications.

Make sure you lodge the right visa application at the right time on the right place. It not only assists in your application assessment but also lowers the risks of refusals. Partner visa can be very complicated and, if not in good hands, it could become a disaster. Give us a call on +61 3 9078 6819 or email us on to discuss your situation or visit our website on