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Changes to partner visa legislation hopes to reduce family violence

In a bid to tackle family violence, the Australian government has introduced a new requirement for those sponsoring their spouses for a partner visa.

The Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 was recently passed by the Senate, meaning it will be harder for people with a history of domestic violence to sponsor a partner visa.

Under the changed law, the sponsors will be scrutinised before visas are issued.

Under existing rules, full character checks are a mandatory requirement for all visa applicants but sponsors are only required to provide police checks where a minor is included in the application.

The changes also ensure visa applicants are aware if their sponsor has a history of violence.

The changes extend the grounds to refuse a visa for people with a violent criminal history.

The legislation is primarily aimed at protecting vulnerable visa holders from family violence, such as women and children.

The amended bill suggests the new provision will ‘improve the management of family violence in the delivery of the program by allowing the refusal of a sponsorship application; and cancellation and/or barring of a family sponsor where inappropriate use of the program or serious offences are detected – especially those involving family violence.’

At the time, when the amendment to the bill was introduced in the parliament in 2016, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said it was a “significant step” in protecting potentially vulnerable visa applicants from the risk of domestic violence.

What does this mean?

Essentially the new Bill requires the partner to first lodge their sponsorship application and be approved before a partner visa can be lodged.

It is unclear how long the decision process of the sponsorship application will take, current process times are approximately 12 to 18 months and there is no definitive time set for commencement of this legislation yet.

If you are planning to lodge a partner visa, this can be a complex process and certainly not as simple as it may at first seem, so we highly recommend you contact us so we can talk you through the process and give you any hand-holding you may need. Even the smallest mistake in your application can result in your visa being refused, so don’t delay and contact us today.

Source of main story – SBS


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