Putting together a partner visa (820/801)

We started off travelling care-free through Myanmar and photographing temples, and at the time we never thought we would one day have to face the fact that we were from two different countries!

But eventually, the time came. Cindy is French, and i’m Australian. We needed some sort of permanent visa…

Enter the Partner visa (820/801) for permanent residency in Australia.

But what exactly is this visa I keep mentioning to all my friends?

And for people who found this blog, planning to apply; what will you need?

What documents will help?

Visa stuff…Argggh!

We first started reading about the Australian permanent residency a year before applying, whilst living in Montreal. I’m glad we did – some of the documents required take a very long time to achieve.

If only it were as simple as filling in a form, paying, and handing in your passport for a new stamp! Unfortunately, the Australian partner visa 820/801 is the most expensive, and probably the most complicated visa that you can hope to apply for.

How much does it cost?

Coming in at over $4575, I would not be surprised if it were the most expensive visa on planet Earth. So start saving. Cindy is the applicant, and i’m the sponsor, and we both needed to include a lot of documentation. Where the 820/801 gets complicated is that it’s basically a character study of the applicant and partner.

This is a long post and requires some explaining – so stay with me!! I’ve included pretty colours so you don’t drift off.

1. Getting started

Official documents

The official documents are what you’d expect; the official forms from the immi website where you include your info about yourself (26 pages for Cindy alone!), certified copies of passports, birth certificates, passport photos and police checks.

Cindy had a police check sent from France (and translated), and I had an Australian one done. In addition you may need one from any country you’ve spent more than a year in, so prepare for that. Cindy spent about 51 weeks in Canada, so narrowly avoided needing that checked!

2. Health check

Hmm. This was the biggest grey area I was trying to wrap my head around when putting the application together. Cindy needs to see a doctor to make sure she’s A-OK, and as far as I can tell, as long as she doesn’t have tuberculosis, she’s fine. Some people recommend doing this before submitting, others say do it when asked by immigration.

We chose to leave it for afterwards for two reasons; we wanted to have our application submitted fast, because just by lodging, we can extend her ‘6 month rule of working’ for her working holiday visa. Secondly, the health check is a few hundred dollars, and can be at risk of expiring if your visa takes longer than anticipated.

3. Statutory declarations by Australian citizens

2 form 888s are needed to back up the validity of your relationship. We chose to submit 4 by friends and family (to be on the safe side), who each completed a form stating that we are indeed a serious couple, with certified ID included.

4. Relationships

We registered our relationship with the NSW office of births, deaths and marriages. I don’t know exactly what it does; but for this visa it is supposed to be rock-solid evidence. This was also our rate-limiting step due to the unwelcome 28-day cooling off period. We waited and obsessively checked our mailbox for this document, the last thing to arrive before we could apply.

Then, after all the official stuff, there’s the supporting documents. This is where this official application suddenly gets pretty personal.

5. History of our relationship

We both wrote one of these; a detailed account in our own words of our entire relationship. Yup, everything – how we met, where we travelled, when we first said ‘I love you’, our seperations and first apartments, how we helped each other through tough money or emotional times, when we met each other’s friends and families, even our future plans.

We each typed out about 6 pages, copied them into a statutory declaration, and had them certified.

6. Financial evidence of our relationship

By doing a little research ahead of time, we had the foresight to keep a lot of very important pieces of documentation here. Our strongest pieces of evidence were two joint bank accounts that we held.

One in Desjardins bank in Montreal (which we opened pretty much entirely for this visa), and one from ANZ in Australia that we use to pay our bills. The Montreal statement, written in French, we had translated into a short summary.

We also produced photocopies of joint gas and electricity bills (for the purposes of the visa, we arranged to have both names added to these), and receipts from furniture purchases from IKEA with both our names.

7. The nature of our household

Cindy and I were lucky enough to have been living together for almost our entire relationship; so we included lease agreements from Paris (translated) and Sydney, as well as a bond receipt for our Sydney place.

The gas and electric bills doubled up here to support our household documents. We also added letters addressed to both of us. We even included a statutory declaration describing our chores and who does what!

8. Social context of our relationship

All those wedding invitations and thank you cards, they were all included. We printed a handful of photos (18 in total; i’d heard of people including upwards of 100 but I truly don’t believe that the immigration officer cares that much).

9. The nature of your commitment to each other

This section of the visa is where you would put things such as mentioning each other in your wills, or registering your relationship with a government body.

We didn’t have much for this part, however they recommend including email, Skype and Facebook transcripts during seperation periods. We included emails from when I was in Nepal, and Skype logs from when I went to Canada a few weeks before Cindy.

10. Translations

It’s worth mentioning this – do a lot of shopping around for translation quotes, you can find some huge price differences. Find a NAATI accredited translator from their website. Also, read the results clearly, as we found a large number of mistakes in what should have been watertight documents.

11.  Submitting the form!

We dropped our completed application off at the Sydney office. It was massive – at least 300 pages i’d say. We needed the largest size bulldog clip to hold it together. The applications all get dropped into a big common bin (instead of nicely on someone’s desk!) so protect your pages well.

12. And then what?

We got an email the next day confirming our lodgement, with all kinds of reference numbers. We also got our HAP ID, the reference number I was waiting for for the health check.

We also submitted a form requesting the waiving of Cindy’s 6-month work restriction. The health check is now booked, then begins the waiting game!

19 thoughts on “Putting together a partner visa (820/801)

  1. Thanks for this!
    My Australian fiance and I are thinking of doing this visa… We have been together almost 4 years and living together 3… But in 4 different countries! We are currently in Vietnam and don’t know if it is best to apply offshore or not. (I have already lived in Australia for one year on a working holiday visa!)
    Don’t suppose you found out If it was easier or not?

    Such a complicated process! Ahh
    Good luck with yours!

    1. From what i’ve read, applying onshore and offshore have slightly different requirements, but in the end there shouldn’t be much difference in processing time. I prefer onshore, as we have ready access to the immigration office if we need to submit any further forms, bridging visas for example.
      If you’ve been together that long, then you have a strong case i’d say. Just try and go back to find those old rental histories, joint bills, etc, and you’ll be fine. It takes a bit of time and planning, especially in regards to translations or the NSW relationship registration (Which, if you apply in Aus, I recommend getting).
      Good luck 🙂

  2. Hi Derrick!
    I am myself on a working holiday visa, preparing all our file to submit my application for my partner visa.
    I am currently working full time, on a casual basis, my employer wants to offer me a permanent contract as soon as I have unlimited right to work in Australia.

    I’ve got a question regarding the “6 months extension” for the working holiday visa. Is the extension only a short term extension (for a month or two) or has the extension your partner’s extension been granted until the decision on the visa will be made?
    Thanks for your help,


    1. Hi Carol,
      The extension my partner was given gave her an extra 6 months working for the same employer. However, as she rolled over on the Bridging Visa A, BVA shouldn’t have any time restriction at all – if I understand correctly, it should allow limitless employment until the permanent residency is accepted.

      However, if you’re worried, waiving the 6 month rule is free and simple, and can be re-applied for every 6 months. Give it about a month for processing.

      Hope that helps and good luck,

  3. TeacherJennie,

    Dont delay your app, do it ASAP if you have not already. If you are already offshore you lodge it off shore and the processing time is AT LEAST slightly faster and it is cheaper. You should save roughly $1k and it is likely that your visa is granted substantially faster.

    I have applied onshore online in Feb of 2014 with a fully decision ready application. I still do not have a case officer, although I was alerted that my application has been routed through the Perth office.We have friends in the UK that have applied off shore in the UK 2 months after I applied and their visa has already been granted and spent about $1000 less.

    If you do not immediately need be back in Oz you are better applying offshore, not to mention depending on your circumstances the primary applicant may not be able to work in Oz the whole time they wait. It is taking beyond 16 months for some people to get their visas onshore. Then again I have seen others getting their’s in 6 months or so. You can never be sure with Immigration, things are different for everyone.

  4. If you apply onshore from a working holiday visa you will have decent work options as Derek has noted. However if you are going from a 457 or similar you are bound to the same employer. The Bridging Visa A (BVA) with full work rights that is automatically granted will not kick in until the current visa expires as it normally would. So for 457 visa holders this means you have to wait for your 4 yr 457 visa to expire and your BVA means nothing. It is quite confusing

    1. It is an extremely confusing process – and it’s different for every person’s individual situation. For us, we applied halfway through a (1 year) working holiday visa. If I could rewind time, I would apply as soon as is humanly possible (we might have the PR by now!). In any case, as soon as we applied, we waived the 6 month work rule. The WHV expired a few months later, and automatically rolled onto BVA (no application necessary). However, we were overseas at the time of rollover, so we needed to apply for BVB (same as BVB, but includes the right to enter/leave Aus). As far as I know now, with this BVB, Cindy has the right to come and go with any employer, unrestricted by visa status.

  5. Hi Derrick,

    Thanks for writing such a detailed article, its truly a big help to get someone else’s experience on this visa. My partner and I are applying for this visa come January, and we still are trying to get as much info as possible before that time comes. One of the biggest grey areas for us is that we don’t know how long it will take to obtain the bridging visa once we apply for the permanent. We are wondering if your partner was granted that right away or if you had to wait few months for it to come through. Thanks for your help!!!

    1. The bridging visa rolls over automatically as soon as your current visa expires. No application necessary – easy! However, if you plan on leaving the country whilst on BVA (the default and free bridging visa), you should apply for the BVB (which allows travel). It’s $150 or so.

  6. Hi There

    We’re almost set for applying Onshore. But just have a few random questions, the application says you must submit original copies of your overseas (USA) police checks, how is this possible if you’re submitting online? Also, they require you to submit passport photos, how is this possible when submitting online? Haha – it makes no sense.

    Also who can certify this stuff? Can it be a chemist or does it need to be a Justice of the Peace?

    Thanks 🙂

    1. I’m not too sure about the online application i’m afraid – we submitted in paper just so we didn’t have to think about those things! If I were you, I would probably scan those documents, and hang onto the originals as they would probably ask you about them later.
      As for certifying, go to a Justice of the Peace. You can find them absolutely everywhere and there’s a list of them available online somewhere.

      Good luck!

  7. Hi can I just ask, as I need to apply for the work extension also as I am on a working holiday visa about to apply for my partner visa and i will need the extension for roughly 2 months until my work visa gets changed onto the bridging visa – im doing my application online but how do you apply for the work extension? I have the form but unsure where to send it it says best to send by email but i cant find an email address anywhere… if you could help! thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Zoe, it’s a little while ago for us now…but if i remember correctly, I think we emailed it over to the address on the form:

      Email: eVisa.WHM.Helpdesk@immi.gov.au
      Include ‘Employment Extension’ in the subject line of your email.

      It eventually lands in the hands of the office that does the partner visas – note that this is actually a different office to immigration itself. We found that by sending it earlier than advised helped, because they took a loooong time to process it (I think they forgot it for a little while). It was also very hard to find a contact number if you have any questions, but through immigration we were able to find their email contact person.

      Good luck 🙂

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