Coastline Rottnest Island Western Australia
Parker Point on Rottnest Island

820/801 Visa FAQ: Top 10 most common questions about the Australian Partner Visa (with full answers!)

In the 14 months since I published my blog series on applying for the 820/801 Australian Partner Visa, I’ve received hundred of comments (more than 700, at the time of writing!) about the online application, specific documents, what evidence to provide, getting a BVA or BVB, and a myriad of other concerns that couples are having as they either prepare to submit or await a decision on their application.

Although I should remind readers yet again that I’m not a migration agent (I’m just a ruthlessly organised girl who likes to help people), I always do my very best to answer the questions you’ve posed, because I do know how stressful this process can be. And it really should comfort you to know that HEAPS of people have the exact same question as you— you are not alone in wondering how to format your relationship statements or whether Form 40SP is actually necessary!

In an effort to provide further clarity around common areas of confusion, I thought it might be helpful to write an FAQ post, so I went through all of the comments I’ve responded to in the last year and pulled out the top questions asked by readers. Below, I’ll answer 10 of the most frequently asked questions in as much detail as possible, and hopefully this will help answer future questions about the 820/801 Australian Partner Visa!

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 am not a migration agent or affiliated with Home Affairs in any way, so all the information provided in these posts and in the comments below is based entirely on my own experience and my own understanding of the application process.

1 | Cohabitation requirements

How do you satisfy the de facto partner requirement if your partner is initially coming to Australia on a 601 ETA visa? I mean, you would basically be living together for 2 months or so before needing to submit the 820 application, otherwise the BVA wouldn’t be granted and my partner would need to leave after the 3 month 601 visa expired. -Jamie

This is a tricky question and one that really troubles people who haven’t lived with their partner for a minimum 12 months, worrying that they won’t be considered de facto. You’ll need a strong application with heaps of evidence in other categories (social aspects, financial aspects, etc), but it’s still possible to qualify for a partner visa under these circumstances!

A friend of mine was recently in a very similar situation. She’d been with her partner just over a year, in Australia for most of the relationship but not living together, and then spent the last 6 months back home before returning to Australia on a tourist visa at the end of 2019. She moved in with her partner for about 2 months and then she applied for the Partner Visa, meaning they had ONLY lived together for 2 months at the time of application. She lodged her visa with the help of a migration agent, who thought they had a strong chance of being approved, given a wealth of other evidence demonstrating their committed relationship. Even though they hadn’t lived together for 12 months when they applied, the 24-31 month waiting period on the 820/801 visa means they will easily fulfil the requirement before a CO ever glances at their application. If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t be discouraged, but my best advice would be to seek help from a migration agent ASAP.

It’s also important to mention that 12 months of cohabitation is NOT the only way to fulfil the de facto requirement for the 820/801: Home Affairs will waive the minimum 12 months if you register your relationship with the state government. Not all states offer relationship registration, which could certainly complicate matters, but it’s not difficult to get the certificate if you live in one of the states listed below:

The process of registering your relationship differs slightly depending on where you live, but when we registered our relationship in NSW (just as an additional piece of evidence, because I like to be thorough) we filled out a basic form, had it witnessed by a JP, paid a fee, and then waited a couple months (a “cooling off” period) before we received the document in the mail.

2 | Character limit on 5 aspects of relationship

Just one question about the 5 aspects of relationship – with the longer-than-2000-characters statements, I understand that you uploaded each of the 5 as separate attached statements. But what did you write in the boxes in the IMMI online application? Did you leave them blank or did you write maybe the few lines of each statement, then continue in the attachments? -Yong

When writing statements about each of the 5 aspects of your relationship, as required on the online application for a Partner Visa, it’s very likely you’ll go over the 2000-character limit. An easy way around this is to write your statements in Word and then upload as evidence after submitting the visa.

If writing these longer statements, it’s really up to you whether you want to do a quick summary or truncate the full statement in the text boxes on the application, or even just write “see XXX document in uploads for full statement”. There isn’t really one “right” way to do it, so do whatever seems most logical to you as long as the CO will know where to find the full statement when assessing your application. Just don’t leave the box blank!

3 | Formatting statements about your relationship

I was just wondering if you had any advice on how to format the statements? My partner and I are currently writing them but I don’t actually know how best to format/ structure them.. do you have any advice for this? -Elise

Writing and formatting statements about your relationship is incredibly personal and there’s no set structure defined by Home Affairs as long as you speak to each of the 5 categories. You might choose to write each statement as a long letter or use bullet points to show specific dates— this isn’t an essay contest and you’re not being assessed on the strength of your creative writing, rather the content of the statement and whether it really demonstrates a serious, committed relationship.

My only specific recommendation would be to reference documents and evidence that you’ve uploaded throughout the statements. For example, if you’re writing about financial aspects of your relationship and you’re explaining that you and your partner have a joint account to contribute equally to household expenses, you might say “see xxx document in the uploads section”, which is either proof of the joint account or a joint bank statement.

I’m sure many successful applications have been less meticulous than this, but I wanted to make sure the CO understood every piece of evidence and every aspect of our relationship, and it certainly never hurts to be thorough!

4 | Statements from overseas family & friends

We are in the process of lodging my partner’s partner visa onshore. Just got a question, as both our parents are in India, do we need their statements just on a piece of paper with their signatures or does it have to be a formal document? -Shelly

Although they don’t take the place of required Form 888s (as these need to come from Australian residents or citizens) and you also won’t be able to have foreign family sign a legal Statutory Declaration (since these need to be witnessed by a JP in Australia), statements from overseas family and friends are still great pieces of evidence.

You won’t really be able to get a “formal” statement from anyone overseas, but I personally had my parents write and sign letters about the time they’ve spent with me and my partner, as well as their relationship with him and his family here in Australia. I didn’t really give them a lot of guidance about how to format the letter, so my mum’s, dad’s, and stepmum’s letters all turned out really different, but they feel incredibly genuine, and that’s what matters.

5 | Sponsorship application & sponsor documents

While applying for 820 visa for my wife, I have added all my (Sponsor) documents in the same application which was lodged for my wife, do you think that should be fine? I can see in few comments that you have mentioned doing the Sponsor documents as a separate application from a different account, but here you have mentioned it is fine to do it altogether, can you please let me know which one is the right way? -Bob

There’s been considerable confusion around the sponsorship application and the evidence documents that need to be uploaded for the sponsor, which does happen in different places. To clarify, you need to complete a sponsorship application online in IMMI (called Sponsorship for a Partner to Migrate to Australia), and this is SEPARATE from the main 820/801 application. This sponsorship application can be completed from the same IMMI account that was used for the main application, it doesn’t cost anything additional, and you will link it to the main application using the TRN provided after submission, but it is its OWN application to be completed by the sponsor.

If you’ve done this correctly, there should be 2 applications displayed when you log into the IMMI account: one with the applicant’s name and one with the sponsor’s name. I’ve written out a detailed step-by-step guide to completing the sponsorship application in this post: SPONSORSHIP FOR A PARTNER TO MIGRATE TO AUSTRALIA: COMPLETING THE SPONSOR SECTION OF THE 820/801

Then, you ALSO need to upload documents relevant to the sponsor (e.g. passport, proof of citizenship, etc), and this is done under the Sponsor Documents tab on MAIN application in IMMI. All of the required and recommended documents are discussed under the Sponsor Documents heading at the end of this post: UPLOADING EVIDENCE TO OUR 820/801 AUSTRALIAN PARTNER VISA APPLICATION

6 | Form 80, Form 1221, Form 888, Form 40SP

I’m slightly confused here… do I need to complete all these forms? Form 888 and form 80 only? Are there any forms that mandatory? I’ve seen a few form 40sp, form 40 so I’m very confused. -Chermaine

There are so many forms associated with the 820/801 Partner Visa, many of which aren’t mentioned on the Home Affairs site, but then do appear under the “Recommended” tab when uploading through IMMI. It’s seriously confusing!

Some of these forms are 100% necessary (like Form 888), but with others, it’s not so clear. Form 40SP appears to be the old paper version of the sponsorship application that’s now online and both Forms 80 and 1221 are extremely repetitive of information you’ll already have provided in the main online application. BUT, since they are still listed as “Recommended” under their own subheadings in the upload portal on IMMI, the general consensus is that it’s better to do a few extra forms that might not be needed rather than to omit important forms from your application and risk delaying your visa.

Here’s a quick rundown of the forms in question:

  • Form 888: Statement provided by friends or family about your relationship with your partner (REQUIRED, minimum 2)
  • Form 80: Personal details to be completed by the applicant (RECOMMENDED)
  • Form 1221: More personal details to be completed by the applicant (RECOMMENDED)
  • Form 40SP: Personal details to be completed by the sponsor (RECOMMENDED)
  • Form 40: Not relevant to the Partner Visa (DON’T COMPLETE)

7 | Form 47SP

I am just uploading our evidence, and printed out a Form 80, and form 1221 which I, the applicant need to complete, and then the 40SP form for my boyfriend, the sponsor. I was just looking over his form, and it says on the front page that I, his partner, need to complete a form 47SP ‘Application for migration to Australia by a partner’ – did you do this form aswell? This is the first I’ve seen of it i’m pretty sure… -Imogen

And still more forms! Unlike the forms mentioned above, though, Form 47SP, which looks to be the paper version of the full 820/801 Partner Visa application, is not listed as a “Recommended” document in the upload portal on IMMI, nor is it given its own subheading. If you really want to err on the side of caution and complete the form anyway, it certainly won’t hurt, but it does seem that Form 47SP is simply no longer necessary.

8 | Getting a Bridging Visa A

I am just curious, is the bridging visa granted as soon as you have submitted the online form and then paid, or do you have to upload all your evidence before you receive the visa? Thanks so much! -Tom

As soon as you submit the 820/801 Partner Visa application and your payment is processed, a Bridging Visa A (BVA) will be issued and a record will be sent to your email. This is usually within a day or two of submitting, since payment is relatively quick, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the uploading of evidence or even the completion of the sponsorship application.

If you are currently on a visa (e.g. student visa with 3 months left or tourist visa with 1 month left), the BVA typically won’t become active until your other visa expires, but it is still issued right away.

9 | Work rights on Bridging Visa A

I will be on a student visa when I apply for the partner visa. Do you know if my rights of work remain the same as student visa or with the bridging visa that I will hold after the application, I will have full time rights of work? -Zep

Generally, all holders of an active Bridging Visa A (BVA) will receive full work and study rights. This was my situation as I moved from a student visa to a BVA and I haven’t heard from anyone who experienced something different (please feel free to comment below if you didn’t get full work rights on your BVA!).

Note that your current visa conditions will still apply until your BVA is ACTIVE. In other words, if you have a few months left on your current student or work visa when your BVA is “ISSUED”, you will still be bound by the conditions of that student or work visa until it expires. Following expiry of your substantive visa, your BVA will become “ACTIVE” and then you will receive full work and study rights through the BVA.

10 | Getting a BVB for travel/family holiday

My partner is applying for 820 & we have booked a Bali holiday for this August. I just got off the phone to an immigration solicitor and she said she doubts they will grant us a Bridging B for just a family holiday and that it needed to be more compelling like a family member dying. I have been crying my eyes out as we have been waiting for this visa for 19 months now and desperately need an overseas holiday. -Skye

I’m not a migration agent (as I keep saying) and I don’t want to challenge a professional, but I know dozens and DOZENS of people who’ve had BVBs granted for an overseas trip or a family holiday, either with or without their partner. With processing times stretching well over 2 years on Partner Visas, Home Affairs really seems to have loosened the requirements and just about any reason to travel will be approved these days.

I’ve personally had 2 BVBs granted, the first for a 3-month backpacking trip around Latin America and the second for an entire year of multiple entries so I can travel to a bunch of places, none of which are related to a family emergency or any special circumstance beyond me just really loving to travel!

Of course every situation is different and I can’t say 100% that all experiences will be the same, but everyone I’ve ever spoken to has gotten their holidays approved. Read more about BVBs in this post, and read comments from other applicants who’ve had BVBs granted for a holiday: APPLYING FOR A BRIDGING VISA B (BVB) WHILE WAITING FOR YOUR 820/801 AUSTRALIAN PARTNER VISA

* I am not a migration agent or affiliated with Home Affairs in any way, so all the information provided in these posts and in the comments below is based entirely on my own experience and my own understanding of the application process. 

If you found this post helpful and want to contribute to some of the costs associated with running, I would be infinitely grateful!

You can use the PayPal button below to donate whatever you feel this information is worth. If you aren’t able, don’t worry— I will always keep my posts free and accessible for everyone!

UPDATE: A MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone who’s commented on these posts to let me know that you found the information helpful— I can’t tell you how much it means to me, because it was a crazy amount of work to put this together (while I was trying to finish my PhD, no less), but knowing that it’s being used makes it all totally worth it. More importantly, though, thank you to everyone who has shared their own experience or answered questions for other readers in the comments below!!

We are building a little community of Partner Visa applicants and survivors here and it’s massively reassuring for anyone just beginning their application to hear stories of success or get advice from those who’ve come out the other end. SO, if you felt like these posts or the information in the comments helped with your application, I’d encourage you to come back after your visa is granted (or even after various milestones) and let us know what happened! It could end up being a huge help to someone else 🙂 xx Brooke