Blog post by Kate Chisholm
As if the breakdown of a relationship is not traumatic enough – apart from working out how the children will be looked after and who gets the house, many people will need to take into consideration how it will effect their immigration status in Australia. If you are in Australia on a Temporary Partner Visa such as the 820 visa or the 309 visa, a relationship breakdown will have an impact.
The Department of Immigration & Border Protection directs that they must be informed if a relationship ends before a person has been granted a Permanent Partner Visa. Once they have been informed, the DIBP will subsequently ask the sponsor (your ex-partner) to formally withdraw their sponsorship. The DIBP will then notify you that your sponsorship has been withdrawn, and they may provide you with an opportunity to explain why the relationship broke down. It may also give you a chance to seek to be allowed to stay in Australia independently of your sponsor.
It is therefore important that you keep the DIBP informed of your up-to-date contact details, including postal address. After sponsorship has been withdrawn, your sponsor will not be updated on the progress of any removal directions or any further visa applications you may make, due to privacy laws.
If your relationship ends you may still be eligible to stay in Australia. Victims of domestic violence do not have to stay in an abusive relationship to protect their immigration status in Australia. The Family Violence provisions under the Migration Regulations apply if:
- you are on a Partner Visa (either 309 or 820) or you have married your spouse while on a Prospective Marriage Visa;
- you or your dependent children have experienced family violence; and
- the relationship has ended.
If these requirements are fulfilled, you can continue with an application for a Permanent Partner Visa.
Family violence is defined under the Migration Regulations as “conduct, either actual or threatened, towards:
- the alleged victim;
- a member of the family unit of the alleged victim;
- a member of the family unit of the alleged perpetrator;
- the property of the alleged victim;
- the property of a member of the family unit of the alleged victim; or
- the property of a member of the family unit of the alleged perpetrator
that causes the alleged victim to reasonably fear for, or be reasonably apprehensive about, their safety or wellbeing. It can include physical or psychological abuse or harm, forced sexual relations, forced isolation or economic depravation.” The DIBP will need to be satisfied that the relationship was genuine until it ended and that the family violence took place during the relationship.
You may also be able to stay in Australia if there has been a child of the relationship who is under 18 years of age and for which you and your ex-partner still have shared parental responsibility.
It is important to be aware that if the DIBP receives information that your relationship was not genuine, a Permanent Partner Visa may be cancelled.
A migrant on a Temporary Partner Visa will have the same rights under the Family Law Act 1975 as an Australian citizen. Therefore applications for property settlement and parenting orders can be entered into by either party.