You can apply for an Offshore Partner Visa (Subclass 309) if you are currently outside Australia and would like to move there to join your Australian resident spouse or partner.  The 309 Visa is the first in a two-step process for getting Australian permanent residence:

  1. Subclass 309 Visa is temporary – it allows you to travel to Australia and wait about two years until you become eligible for permanent residency.
  2. Subclass 100 Visa is permanent – you receive this once your 309 Visa expires.

As with other Australian Partner Visas, you have to apply for both the temporary and permanent visa at the same time.

Who Can Get the Partner Visa 309?

To receive the 309 Visa, you must have a partner living in Australia to sponsor you. You and your partner also have to meet the following requirements:

  • You must both be over the age of 18.
  • Your partner must be an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen.
  • Your partner must not have applied for or received a Prospective Marriage Visa or Partner Visa in the last five years.
  • Both you and your partner have to meet the character requirements. Neither of you must have any criminal charges related to children.
  • You and your partner must be in a committed, monogamous relationship.
  • You and your partner must either be married or in a de facto relationship (living together for at least 12 months).
  • You and your partner must be able to provide evidence about the genuineness of your relationship. For example, prove that you have met each other’s family members, that you have lived together, and you know about each other’s backgrounds, etc.

Partner Visa Subclass 309 Documents Checklist

When you apply for the 309 Visa, you must attach scanned copies of the following documents to your application:

  • Your passport’s personal information page, including your picture and expiry date.
  • Your national ID card.
  • Your birth certificate, showing the names of both your parents. If you cannot provide the birth certificate, a family book or government-issued document verifying your identity will suffice.
  • If you are married: Marriage certificate.
  • If you are in a defacto relationship: Proof that you are in a genuine, exclusive relationship and that you live together.
  • A letter detailing the history of your relationship. Include the following information:
    • When and how you met.
    • How the relationship developed.
    • How you decided to move in together or get engaged/married.
    • Time you spent together and apart.
    • Your plans for the future.
    • Any important events/milestones in your relationship.
  • Documents proving you and your partner share finances. Joint bank statements or loans, mortgage, etc.
  • Documents proving you and your partner share domestic work. Include a letter describing how you share the housework, along with utility bills in your names, mail addressed to both of you, proof you have joint custody of your children, etc.
  • Documents proving you and your partner are committed to each other. Phone records or texts proving you stay in touch even when you are apart, your will terms, etc. You may also have to enter an interview to show you know each other’s background, families, and other personal matters.
  • Any evidence that the people in your lives know of your relationship. This could include proof you have gone out with other people, proof you have travelled together, proof you have friends in common, etc.
  • Police certificates from any country you have lived in for longer than 12 months since you turned 16, including Australia.
  • Additional documents for your dependent children:
    • Identification documents.
    • Birth or adoption certificates.
    • Proof you have legal custody of your child.
    • Proof they are enrolled in school or university, as applicable.
    • If the child is over 18, also include proof of why they are dependent on you.

The documents you submit for an Australian visa have to be translated into English (if they are not already). Since this is an online application, you have to scan them (in color) and attach them as electronic copies.

Make sure each document is a single file, even if there is more than one page per document.

How to Apply for a Partner Visa 309?

You have to be outside Australia when you apply for the 309 Visa and when you receive a decision. You will be applying for both the temporary and permanent visa at the same time. Here’s a step by step breakdown of the application process:

  1. Create an ImmiAccount. If you already have one, log in.
  2. Check whether you need a health examination. If you do, you must organize one – there will be a link you must follow.
  3. Gather the required documents for the visa application.
  4. Start a new application on the ImmiAccount. You must start the new application for Partner Visa (Subclass 309/100).
  5. Complete the online application form. You have to answer all the questions.
  6. Pay the visa application fee. You must pay the fee via a credit or debit card online.
  7. Check your answers and submit the application.
  8. Write down the transaction reference number (TRN) and send it to your partner. They need this number when they apply for 309 Visa Sponsorship.
  9. Attach the required documents. You must make scanned copies of your documents and attach them to the ImmiAccount.
  10. Your partner logs in to their ImmiAccount and applies for Sponsorship. They will need your visa transaction reference number (TRN), identification documents, and police certificates.
  11. Wait for the visa outcome. You must be outside Australia during this time.

If you want to apply for a visa and wait on the decision in Australia, you can look into the Onshore Partner Visa (Subclass 820).

Partner Visa 309 Processing Time

The majority of 309 Visa applications are processed within 16 months. Some can take up to 22 months. It can take even longer if you do not provide the correct documents or if the Department of Home Affairs is taking a long time to verify your information.

Once your visa has been processed, and you receive a decision, you can travel to Australia.

How Much Does the 309 Partner Visa Cost?

The cost of the 309 Partner Visa starts at AUD 7,850 for the main applicant. If you have dependents applying with you, you also have to pay:

  • AUD 3,930 for each dependent over the age of 18.
  • AUD 1,965 for each dependent under the age of 18.

When you pay the fee, you are also paying for your Permanent Partner Visa (Subclass 100).

If your child does not apply for a 309 Visa with you but gets a Dependent Child Visa 445 later, you do not need to pay a visa fee.

Benefits of the 309 Visa

Once you get a 309 Visa, you are one step closer to becoming a permanent Australian resident. But in the meantime, you can still enjoy the following benefits:

  • You can live with your partner in Australia.
  • You can work in Australia.
  • You can enroll in an Australian educational institution.
  • You can attend English language classes (if you need to). You will be able to register for up to 510 hours of free classes provided by the Adult Migrant English Program.
  • You can register for Australian public healthcare.
  • You can travel to and from Australia as many times as you need.

How Long Until I Can Apply for Permanent Residency?

Two years after you get the 309 Visa, you have to submit additional documents to the DHA so you can get the Permanent Partner Visa (Subclass 100). You will have to prove that during this time, you and your partner continued to in a committed, exclusive relationship and have lived together.

Can My Children Apply With Me?

Yes, you can add your children as your dependents for the 309 Visa; you will receive the visas and travel to Australia together. You may also add a dependent after you submit the visa application, but before you receive the decision. To do so, you will need to complete Form 1436 “Adding an additional applicant after lodgement” and attach it to the ImmiAccount.

Can I Add My Children After I Have the Visa?

After you receive the 309 Visa, you can no longer add a dependent to that visa. Instead, your child will have to apply for a Dependent Child Visa (Subclass 445) so they can come to Australia and live with you.

What If My Relationship Has Ended?

If you and your partner break up after you receive your 309 Visa, then you may still be able to get Australian permanent residency if your situation matches one of the following scenarios:

  • You have been the victim of domestic violence.
  • You have a child with your partner and you both have custody of the child.

If you are in one of these situations, you have to complete Form 1022 “Notification of changes in circumstances” and submit it to the Department of Home Affairs as soon as possible.

If you do not meet these requirements, you will either have to apply for a different Australian visa or leave the country.