Partner Visa Processing Legislation



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A notice has been lodged in Parliament to address changes to the processing of Partner Visas.

Julian Christopher Hill is member of the Australian Labor Party, and the Member of Parliament for Bruce, Melbourne, in the House of Representatives.

In May 2020, Mr Hill called for a large increase in the number of partner visas to be issued once the country reopens.

The wording of this new “Private Members Business” is:

Notices given for Tuesday, 25 August 2020


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MR HILL : To move—That this House:

(1) reaffirms that:

(a) Australians love who they love, and the community must have confidence that the partner and spouse visa provisions in the Migration Act 1958 (the Act) are administered lawfully, fairly, impartially and with integrity;

(b) while the Minister generally has the power to limit the number of visas in particular classes and subclasses by using the program management provisions in s86 of the Act, s87 of the Act explicitly prevents the ‘capping’ of visas to people who apply for a visa on the grounds that they are the spouse or de facto partner of an Australian citizen or permanent resident;

(c) the Parliament has voted twice to reject legislative amendments to give the Minister a power to cap these visa classes, preferring the processing of spouse visa applications to occur on a demand-driven basis; and

(d) inexplicable and unconscionable delays by the Department of Home Affairs in processing thousands of partner visa applications continues to result in significant harm to, and consequences for, Australian citizens and permanent residents;

(2) condemns the Government for:

(a) using the administrative tool of migration program planning levels to unlawfully override the legislated program management tools in s86 and s87 thus effectively ‘capping’ partner visas against the intent of s87 of the Act;

(b) refusing to release advice on the legality of their actions to restrict partner visa grants;

(c) presiding over an extraordinary blow out to 91,717 as at 31 March 2020 in the number of partner visa applications on hand, an increase of almost 30 per cent in under three years;

(d) unacceptably high and deteriorating processing times for partner visa applications, with the Department’s website indicating that:

(i) subclass 300—75 per cent of applications are processed within 16 months and 90 per cent of applications are processed within 29 months;

(ii) subclass 309—75 per cent of applications are processed within 15 months and 90 per cent of applications are processed within 20 months;

(iii) subclass 100—75 per cent of applications are processed within 20 months and 90 per cent of applications are processed within 24 months;

(iv) subclass 820—75 per cent of applications are processed within 20 months and 90 per cent of applications are processed within 25 months; and

(v) subclass 801—75 per cent of applications are processed within 13 months and 90 per cent of applications are processed within 25 months;

(e) cutting the number of partner visas granted by 8,000 per annum which will mean the backlog and processing times continue to grow;

(f) allowing a blowout in the backlog of cases to 5,556 cases at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) as at 31 July 2020 with:

(i) an average processing time for partner cases of 726 calendar days; and

(ii) a partner visa set aside rate at the AAT of around 60 per cent;

(g) failing to address the perverse consequences of COVID-19 related border restrictions for partner visa applicants including:

(i) refusing to let numerous partner and prospective marriage visa holders enter Australia before their visa expires, or at least to extend their visa expiry date or refund their money; and

(ii) refusing to let people who are currently in Australia on a temporary visa and who are granted an offshore partner visa to activate that visa without having to fly overseas; and

(h) attempting to silence Australians who speak up publicly about the delays in processing and growing problems in the partner visa program;

(3) calls on the Government to:

(a) acknowledge the devastating human impact of delays and uncertainty on affected couples whose lives are in limbo, whose mental health is suffering, and whose relationships are being destroyed through separation from their partner for many years;

(b) apologise for the unacceptable delays in processing partner visa applications and take immediate action to process the backlog noting the Government has collected massive levels of visa application revenue that should be used to process applications in a timely way;

(c) urgently address the perverse consequences of COVID-19 related border restrictions on partner visas; and

(d) publicly commit to affected people and the wider community that partner visa processing will in future be administered lawfully, fairly, impartially and expeditiously.

( Notice given 24 August 2020. )

(My thanks to Rex for bringing this to my attention)

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