Once upon a time, not that long ago so it seems, it was literally impossible for most people to apply for spouse visas onshore. “Onshore” means “inside Australia”, whereas “offshore” means “outside Australia” in Immigrationese! Tourist visa holders from Philippines were almost guaranteed to have a Condition 8503 on their visas, which prevented them from making further applications inside Australia (ie onshore). Many an uninformed person went to Australia on a tourist visa with the intention of marrying and staying, only to head back home with plans shattered.
Nowadays? 8503’s are not common. And whilst you still can’t go to Australia with the sole purpose being to get married and apply for another visa, if you are intending to go to Australia with genuine reasons to visit that conform with the Migration Regulations, then you are perfectly entitled to also marry inside Australia if you wish to do so. And if you qualify to apply for a partner visa while you are inside Australia on a tourist visa, then you may apply.
Advantages of an onshore spouse visa application
The major advantage of course is that you get to be together a whole lot sooner. The worst part of an offshore partner visa application is that you spend an average of 9 months apart. Being apart really sucks. Four or five years ago it used to be average of four months out of Manila, but it’s been taking longer ever since then. And keep in mind that’s only an average. I’ve never said “Your visa application will take 9 months”. Plenty of them take considerably longer, and that’s not “the bad applications” because Down Under Visa don’t lodge bad applications in the first place. Perfectly sound applications can still take ages to be processed.
Are onshore partner visa applications quicker? Not at all. Manila are fairly quick by world standards, so onshore applications take closer to 12 months. But it’s not such a big deal because the applicant is already there. The applicant will get a Bridging Visa A automatically (also free!) when the tourist visa application runs out, as long as a valid application for the partner visa has been lodged.
Disadvantages of onshore spouse visa applications
Yes, there are definitely disadvantages, but they mainly come down to poor organization. The easy thing about offshore partner visa applications, especially for us as Registered Migration Agents, is that there is no specific time limit when it must be lodged. Yes, everyone wants it lodged yesterday, and it’s always a little odd when someone takes an extremely long time in responding to our requests for information and documents sometimes for more than a year, then once we have everything that get mad at us when we don’t lodge it that same day.
But basically, there is no issue with lodging offshore applications later than expected. There is no deadline like there is with a spouse visa lodged inside Australia. If the application in Australia isn’t ready and the tourist visa runs out, then the applicant is going to leave! Or they simply MUST leave so they don’t end up unlawful (the modern expression for “illegal”).
So it means that visa applicants for onshore partner visa applications MUST be well-organised! If you spend all your time gazing into each other’s eyes and/or doing those things that make you pregnant, you will most certainly run out of time! And remember you also probably have a wedding to organize, as you can’t lodge unless you are either legally married or already in a genuine de facto relationship that the Department will recognize.
So if you want to do this, you need to do it the right way. Strongly advise you not to do it without professional help from a Registered Migration Agent who has a high level of expertise and experience with spouse visas from the Philippines to Australia. There are too many things you can mess up, and you don’t have months and months to sort it all out.