What do changes to the definition of Marriage mean for same sex partner visas?

On 7 December 2017, the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act 2017 was passed through Federal Parliament. It changed the definition of Marriage under the Marriage Act 1961 from a union of ‘a man and a woman’ to a union of ‘2 people’. This change came into effect on 9 December 2017, allowing same sex couples to marry in Australia (subject to some other conditions, see https://www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesAndMarriage/Marriage/Pages/Getting-married.aspx).

The Migration Act 1958 (Cth) has also changed the definition of Spouse in line with changes to the Marriage Act, to allow for a spouse to be of the same or different sex.

A person in a relationship with an Australian citizen, permanent resident or an eligible New Zealander can apply for an onshore partner visa (subclass 820/801) or offshore partner visa (subclass 309/100), or a prospective marriage visa (subclass 300, if you are outside of Australia). You can find more information on partner visas here: http://www.puttlegal.com.au/partner-visas/.

Previously same sex couples could only apply for a partner visa on the basis that they could demonstrate they had been in a de facto relationship for at least 12 months (rather than a spousal relationship). Now, same sex couples who are married can circumvent this 12-month de facto requirement. There are still substantial requirements as to proving a relationship, but same sex couples can now marry to demonstrate their commitment.

Further same sex couples with plans to marry in Australia can now apply for a prospective marriage visa. It may be the case that a couple is in a genuine relationship and want to get married and set up a life in Australia, but the sponsor is in Australia and applicant is overseas (so they may not meet the criteria of a de facto relationship as required for a partner visa). It is a condition of the prospective marriage visa that the applicant travels to Australia and marries their partner within 9 months. They are then eligible to apply for a partner visa onshore.

Putt Legal looks forward to assisting same sex couples looking to marry in Australia, with a prospective marriage visa application, and has experience with lodging same sex partner visa applications (both onshore and offshore), and appealing refusals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

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The Australian visa process can be complex and confusing; our lawyers work with you to guide you through every step of the way.

We are highly qualified and experienced in immigration law matters and are committed to providing expert advice in every individual case.

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