Protecting partner visa applicants against family violence

The Morrison Government is strengthening the Partner visa program to further protect vulnerable migrants from people who commit violent crimes against women and children.

Family violence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated under any circumstance.

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, whether you are here on a visa or have Australian citizenship – no one should be trapped in a violent relationship.

Sadly we know some Partner visa applicants, particularly those with low English proficiency, are particularly at risk. They are often less likely to have an established support network in Australia, less likely to understand Australian laws and less likely to know how and where to seek assistance.

To counter this, the Government will extend the family sponsorship framework to Partner visas, which will require an Australian citizen or permanent resident sponsor of a Partner visa to be assessed against character and sponsorship obligations and approved before a visa application can be made.

It will also require sponsors to agree to certain results of their character checks being shared with their partner prior to the visa application being lodged. This may include information indicating a potential threat, such as charges and convictions of a violent nature.

This ensures their partner can make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed with the visa application, especially in circumstances where children are involved.

It also means applicants can feel empowered to walk away from a potentially violent relationship based on the information shared, before they lodge and pay for the visa application.

The changes build on existing provisions in Australia’s migration laws to allow provisional Partner visa or Prospective Marriage visa holders who experience family violence to continue with their permanent visa application even if their relationship breaks down. 

New requirements, announced last week, for Partner visa applicants and their permanent resident sponsors to make reasonable efforts to learn English will also support migrant women and families.

Changes to the Partner visa framework and English language requirement will come into effect in late 2021 and will apply to new applications only.

Further details will be developed over the coming months, with final details announced next year.

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