Australian partner visa answers

Last updated: January 2020

Thursday Answers are a response to questions submitted by readers on our regular Ask Mondays posts.

Every Monday I ask people to send in their questions and concerns and I select one to answer. In doing this, I hope you will see that a) you’re not alone in this, b) there are no stupid questions and c) we’re all here to help!

Hi I’m back! I’ve been super busy helping you guys out with partner visa questions and haven’t had a chance to write up more Thursday answers. BUT we’re back and we’re ready to go.

This week I’ll be talking about substantive visas – more importantly, about tourist visas, visitor visas and student visas BEFORE a partner visa application.

Here’s a few of the questions from readers:

“I’m confused about whether I can come to Australia on a tourist visa and then apply for a partner visa. I called the Department to get some answers but they’ve told me that I can’t do that but I’m seeing online that everyone is doing it.”

“Can I apply for partner visa in Australia” and “Can I apply for partner visa while in Australia?”

OK first off, just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean you should do it. That’s a very good rule to live by in life as well. But specifically, the readers are asking if you can apply for a tourist visa to go to Australia and then apply for a partner visa afterwards.

The answer is: YES*

See the asterisks? I’m about to write about the caveats now.

Yes, you can go to Australia on a tourist visa.

Yes, you can apply for any other temporary visa to get onshore to Australia (read the post for all the options).

Yes, you can apply for a partner visa while you are on a tourist visa. In fact, you must hold a valid visa before you can apply for a partner visa in Australia.

OK so if all answers are yes then what the hell is the person at the Department on about when they said you can’t?


Before I begin with the explanation I’d like to caution you on acting on the advice of the customer service line at the Department of Home Affairs.

With all due respect to the fine people who man the phone line, they are not trained migration professionals. I really don’t know what kind of training they do have before they can have that job but they are as trained as the switchboard at the local hospital. What I mean is, you wouldn’t call the switchboard at the hospital to enquire about your potential heart attack.

And the biggest problem I have with the customer service line at the Department is that they are absolutely not responsible for what they say! They can’t be held accountable for the ‘advice’ they give and they do give ‘advice’.

If you’re really determined to get the answer you want, ring back a few times. You’ll get totally different answers to the same question depending on who you have on the other line.

So please please please only act on the advice of a legal professional or a registered migration agent. You’ll always get the correct and legal advice and if anything goes wrong, they’re held accountable for what they say.

Now moving on to the real answer:

Yes you can come to Australia on a tourist visa or visitor visa but no you cannot solely apply for a tourist visa with that intention in mind.

This is because there is a ‘genuine intention’ criterion for all visa applications. In order to grant a visa, the Department has to be satisfied that you’re genuinely intending to use the visa for its purpose.

For a clear example, you arrive in Australia with a tourist visa but upon questioning you are actually here to look for a job and intend to work. Your tourist visa was granted on the base that you will travel around Australia and specifically not work. You will be denied entry and sent home on the next available flight.

So what does this mean? You have to be a genuine entrant on a tourist visa. Your intention must be to travel and see Australia. If you so happen to apply for a partner visa afterwards, then so be it. Maybe your circumstances have changed in that time but upon first entry, you must comply with the conditions of your visa grant or you will be refused entry.

I go through a bit more about this in the book, particularly about the pros and cons of being in Australia before applying for a partner visa. There’s also a section on this ‘genuineness’ criterion and what you need to be aware of when you do want to apply in Australia. Check it out here.

That concludes this week’s Thursday Answers.

Until next time,


P.S Don’t forget to send me your questions! Use the contact form here or send us an email.

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Australian partner visa guides download 2019