Applying for the 820/801 Australian Partner Visa is a monumental task, but thankfully one whose rewards far outweigh any amount of effort (and lost sleep). Australia has been my home for 6 years now and getting to stay here with my long-term partner, Callum, means everything to me, so as much as I complained about the length and rigour of the process, I readily embraced this application as our only real option and set to work. Luckily, there was a wealth of information on forums about the application timeline and suggested evidence to include, which I relied upon heavily as I prepared to submit. What was definitely lacking, however, was concrete information on the online application itself. Without starting one (and answering questions on each page), I had no idea what I’d be asked or what details I needed to gather.

This post is an attempt to provide future 820/801 Australian Partner Visa applicants with all the information I wish I had! As I worked my way through the online form, I took copious notes on what each section asked, as well as all the personal questions I had (and clarifications I found) for ambiguously worded instructions. Read on to learn about the entire online application process, from registering an ImmiAccount through to submitting the last question and paying the application fee.

Read my whole series on applying for the 820/801 Australian Partner Visa for more information about preparing your evidence, lodging your application, and the next steps. If you’re just beginning, start with this post to get an overview (and to read about our story). And, as always, please remember that I’m not a migration agent or affiliated with Home Affairs in any way, so all information provided in these posts in based on my own experience and my own understanding of the process.

How to begin your visa application online

The first thing you’ll need to do in order to start filling out an application for the 820/801 Partner Visa online is to register for an ImmiAccount (if you’ve applied for other Australian visas in the past, you can just log-in to your account here). It only takes about 2 minutes to create the account, and you’ll be asked to give very basic personal information like your name, mobile, email address, and answers to 3 security questions of your choosing. After verifying the account from an email they will send you, log-in here.

Upon login, you should see a screen that says My applications (although there will be no entires in this section if you have yet to lodge any visa application in Australia). To create a new application for the 820/801 Partner Visa, click on the link that says New application in the upper left corner, select the Family tab, and then click Stage 1 – Partner or Prospective Marriage Visa (301,309/100,820/801). This should bring you to an “ELodgement Page”, where the first screen contains links to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Statement, asks you to agree to the terms via a tick box, and, most importantly, gives you a Transaction Reference Number (TRN). This is the number you will use to track the progress of your visa or cite your particular application in any communications with Home Affairs (the department that manages immigration).

What questions will you be asked

This is an overview of the questions that appear on the online application for the 820/801 Partner Visa. Questions displayed may vary according to personal circumstances (i.e. your answers to previous questions), but this should give you a general idea of the information you will be asked to provide.

Application Context

This short section just asks a series of yes/no questions that will be used to build the rest of the application:

Primary Applicant

In this section, you will be asked to fill out personal information, including your full name, passport details, place of birth, and relationship status. This is where you will need to specify whether you are applying for the Partner Visa as a de-facto, engaged, or married couple, and reference the day your relationship began. There is considerable debate over the exact date you should cite here (the day you began dating, the day you because exclusive, the day you moved in together..), but it is your application and evidence, not this date, that will ultimately determine whether you have met the criteria for this visa. The consensus seems to be that you should provide whatever date makes the most sense for your situation and then include ample context later in the application that will justify your use of this particular date (read more about these dates below).

This section will also ask you to list any previous names (maiden name, etc) by which you have been known, your citizenship and any other passports you may hold, and to provide the details of other national identity documents that have been issued to you. This includes:

  • Alien registration number
  • Birth certificate
  • Drivers licence
  • Marriage certificate
  • National Identity document
  • Social security card

For any of these items, you’ll need to include your name as it appears on the document, the identification number, and country of issue.

Critical data confirmation

For this page, you will be asked to review some of your personal details (including name and passport information) and confirm that it is correct before proceeding.

Contact details

Indicate your “country of usual residence”, the Australian Government Office nearest to your location, residential and postal addresses, mobile, and email. This question seems to trouble many people, as the wording of “usual residence” is somewhat vague, but the general consensus seems to be that a “usual resident” of Australia would be someone who has lived (or expects to live) here for a period of 12 months in a 16 month period. This requires you to have an Australian residential address (and evidence of this), and probably would not include someone who is here on a tourist visa. Given that I have lived in Australia consistently for nearly 6 years now and have not been in my home country for a period of more than 3 weeks since I first moved, it seemed a bit ridiculous to call USA my “country of usual residence”, so I specified “Australia”. Again, I don’t work for Home Affairs, so don’t quote me on this, but I combed through dozens of forum posts from other 820/801 applicants with input from Migration Agents and this seems to be an accepted definition. Check out a few of the threads: (1) (2)

Contact details for second stage permanent visa

This section just verifies a postal address and email address.

Authorised recipient

“Does the applicant authorise another person to receive written correspondence on their behalf?” This applies if you have a Migration Agent who will be processing the visa for you.

Migrating members of the family unit

In this section, you will be asked to add personal details for any family members who will be migrating to Australia with you as part of this visa. Those details include their relationship to you, name and passport information, place of birth, relationship status, citizenship, other national identity documents, and details of their dependency.

Non-migrating members of the family unit

For the purpose of both this question and the last question, a member of your family unit is defined as a partner or a child, but I believe it can also include dependent members of your extended family in some circumstances, as well. This question is asking you to provide all the same details as you provided in the last question for any such family members, this time including those who are not migrating with you. This is not the question where you need to provide details for your entire nuclear family (parents, siblings), but really only applies for dependent family that may in the future migrate to Australia. In my case, I did not include any family on this, as I have no non-migrating members of my family unit (nor do I have any migrating members).

Applicant’s immediate family members

Now you will need to provide basic information on your nuclear family, including parents, siblings (even half- or step-siblings), and children. Add members of your family to the list by inputing their full name, DOB, relationship status (including date of marriage), and relationship to you. If the family member is not deceased, also include their country of residence and Australian immigration status (if this person does not hold any visa for Australia, just select “other”).

Sponsor

This section is basically a mirror of the personal information you provided for yourself in the “Primary Applicant” section (see above). The main piece of additional information is about the sponsor’s Australian citizenship: was it by birth, by grant, or are they an eligible NZ citizen?

Sponsor’s contact details

A mirror of the contact details you were asked to supply in the “Contact details” section above.

Sponsor’s immediate family members

Again, a mirror of the information you provided on your own nuclear family in the “Applicant’s immediate family members” section above.

Relationship

Now, to the meat of the application! First, you will need to provide details of when and where you first met, the date a committed de-facto relationship began (or the date of your marriage), and the date you “committed to a shared life together to the exclusion of all others”. This is in addition to the date you began dating, which you supplied in the earlier “Primary Applicant” section. I know these dates may seem incredibly similar (and for some people, the answer across multiple questions could be the same), but there are subtle and important differences in what is being asked. From what I understand, these questions are about the:

  • Date you met (not a lot of ambiguity here)
  • Date you began dating: this could be when you had your first date or when you started introducing each other as a boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Date you committed to a shared life together: this may be when you became de-facto or even before, really when you became “exclusive” or when you would consider yourselves to be in a serious and committed relationship beyond just dating
  • Date the de-facto relationship began: this is typically when you moved in together and began living “as a married couple” (regardless of whether you were married)

Every situation is different, and the reasoning that you use to assign dates to each of these milestones is far less important than the actual evidence that you provide to support your claim. If you believe that you were committed and serious on the same day you began dating, for instance, you will need proof of this, which might mean submitting receipts of shared expenses, travel bookings together, correspondence between you, proof of a relationship with each others’ families, etc. It’s about telling the story of your relationship.

You are also asked Has the applicant lived separately and apart from the sponsor for any periods of time since committing to a shared life together to the exclusion of all others?and will need to provide a brief explanation of this. Probably most couples will find that they were serious and committed before actually moving in together and becoming de-facto, so this is just a justification of why you did not live together in that period if you were indeed “committed”. In our case, I was finishing my Bachelor degree in NSW and so we lived separately for 3 months of the time that I would consider us to be “committed” before I was able to move to VIC and sign a lease with my partner. I provided this explanation here, but I also included (later in the application) a bulk of evidence during that time to demonstrate the continued “commitment”, including plane tickets he bought for me to visit, emails between us, joint travel bookings, proof of financial support between us, photos of us together, event invites as a couple, and statutory declarations from mutual friends and his parents that we were committed in this time and had plans to live together as soon as I graduated. Basically, you need to provide as much evidence as possible to corroborate any claims you make about your situation.

And now, the fun bit of putting your entire relationship under the microscope! You are given these instructions and then asked to describe the major aspects of your relationship in the boxes provided (2000 character limit):

In the following questions, details of the relationship between the applicant and sponsor must be provided and should form the basis of the applicant’s claim that their relationship with their sponsor is genuine and continuing. The information provided also needs to be supported by relevant evidence. This evidence may be such things as photographs, receipts, bills, legal documents or anything else to demonstrate the nature of the relationship the applicant has with their sponsor. This evidence can be uploaded after the submission of this application.

  • Financial aspects of the relationship: How do you pay for food/bills/rent/mortgage? Do you have joint assets or financial responsibilities? How do you share money? How do you support one another during times of financial hardship? Do you have shared assets?
  • Nature of the household: How do you share cooking/cleaning/shopping/house maintenance responsibilities? Do you rent or own a home together? What is your living situation (e.g. housemates, living with family, etc)?
  • Social aspects of the relationship: Do you attend social events together or travel together? Do your friends and family have knowledge of your relationship? How have you made your relationship “official” (e.g. marriage, de-facto registration, facebook, etc)?
  • Nature of the commitment:  How have you provided emotional support to one another? What are your future plans together? How have your lives become intertwined? How have you committed to one another (e.g. will, beneficiary of super, marriage, de-facto registration)?
  • Development of the relationship: When did you become committed and how has your relationship progressed? What are your future plans together?

Obviously, 2,000 characters isn’t an enormous amount of space to discuss your unique situation, so I would definitely recommend writing longer, more detailed explanations for each of these aspects of your relationship on a stat dec and uploading them as a piece of evidence later.

Supporting witnesses

In this section, you will need to add basic information (name, DOB, occupation, relationship to applicant, years known) and contact details (address, email, mobile) for at least two different supporting witnesses who have a personal knowledge of, and are willing to speak to Home Affairs about the nature of, your relationship. We actually specified 9 people who later completed Form 888s, since we figured having more friends and family willing to speak on our behalf was nothing but positive! You can attach Form 888 Statutory Declarations from these witnesses in the evidence section.

Previous relationships

You’re asked to indicate whether you’ve been in any previous relationships with anyone other than your sponsor— specifically, this is asking whether you’ve been married or in a de facto relationship with another partner.

Sponsor’s previous relationships

As with the previous section, you now need to indicate whether the sponsor has been in a previous marriage or de facto relationship with anyone other than you, whether they have ever sponsored a previous partner/spouse for this visa, or whether they have ever been sponsored by a previous partner/spouse for this visa. Presumably, there will be follow-up questions if you answer yes to any of these statements.

Interpreter services

Tick yes if you require the assistance of an interpreter in any future communications with Home Affairs.

Countries resided/visited

Despite the somewhat ridiculous wording of the question “Have any of the applicants lived in a country for more than 12 months cumulatively in the past 10 years?” (obviously you’ve lived in A COUNTRY), just provide details (address and dates) of everywhere you’ve lived for more than a year since you were 16 years old.

The second section of this question will likely take a bit more time, as you are asked to provide dates of travel for every single country you have visited in the last 10 years. I’d suggest making a table in Word with all of your travel dates so you can easily copy this onto the application and then attach it to Form 80 later (there is super limited space on the form).

Visa history

Just a few quick questions about if you’ve ever had a visa cancelled or been refused entry into Australia for any reason. Interestingly enough, I do know a couple who successfully got their partner visa even after the guy had been deported from Australia for illegally overstaying his visa.. This made me incredibly optimistic!

Character declarations

This section is a long series of yes/no questions regarding any criminal convictions/charges that have been brought against you, any activities that you’ve been involved in that could possibly be perceived as a threat to Australia (e.g. explosives training, military service), whether you’ve overstayed a visa or been deported from any country, etc. The questions are all pretty straightforward, but you’ll likely want to speak to a migration agent or lawyer for help with your application if you had to answer “yes” to any of the above.

Partner visa declarations

This page is another series of declarations, mostly just to grant Home Affairs access to your records from other government departments and to consent to the use of this information in assessing your visa.

Declarations

The final page of the online application (!!!) is a series of declarations about the honesty of information you’ve included, your understanding of the visa grant process, and your agreement to the Australian Values statement (you can see the whole Life in Australia booklet here, but basically it just talks about the respect, equality, and freedoms that all Australians are entitled to regardless of gender, religion, race, etc..).

From here, you have the opportunity to review all of your responses on a single page before actually hitting submit, which I would recommend doing yourself and having your partner do, just to make sure there’s nothing you missed.

Paying for your application

Now that you’ve actually submitted your 820/801 Partner Visa application, you are directed to pay the associated fee, which was $7,160AUD as of December 2018. You can pay the application fee using a credit card, debit card, or PayPal, all of which incur fees of 1-1.32%, but if you have an Australian bank account, I would highly recommend using BPAY instead to save yourself some money (1.32% was $95!!). The BPAY payments might take a day to be processed and linked to your application (mine happened in about 6 hours), so it’s imperative that you submit the payment within 3 days of your application to avoid unnecessary lag and potential cancellation. They will give you the Biller Code and Biller Reference when you select this option at the end of the application, so it’s quite easy to manage.

What’s next?

The next step is for your partner to complete the Sponsorship for a Partner to Migrate to Australia form, which can also be done in IMMI. Read all about that process in this next post.

I hope this information has been helpful and I wish you so much luck on your Australian Partner Visa journey! Feel free to ask any questions below and I will do my very best to answer them.