Australia has its visa system broken up into onshore applications and offshore applications, and it’s all about where the application is lodged. And “lodging” means submitting the completed application to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) or the Australian Embassy or Consulate if you are outside of Australia. Where must you be at visa lodgement though?
Why does place of lodgement matter?
It matters mainly because there are certain rights that go with an onshore visa application, plus an onshore application means you need to be in Australia to start with. In some cases they are drastically different visas, and in other cases the differences are small but still significant. For instance, you may apply for a Subclass 309 partner visa when you have not yet married as long as you intend to marry within the time it takes to finalise the visa application. An onshore visa application requires you to be married before you lodge the application, or it’s not valid.
Where do you need to be at visa lodgement time?
In short and simple terms? You generally need to be where the visa application is lodged. That’s how it works with all visa types that Down Under Visa manage, so for the purposes of our clients we can say you need to be where the visa is lodged at the time that it’s lodged. Other visas have different rules, but for partner and tourist applications it’s definitely true. Examples?
Prospective Marriage Visa
The good ol’ fiancée visa, which allows you 9 months to enter Australia and to marry. Plenty of planning time, which people like. Yet many a pending applicant says they want to lodge an application while they’re inside Australia. Well, it can’t be done! It’s an offshore visa! If you’re inside Australia, you can’t lodge it. You need to lodge at an overseas Australian mission like the Australian Embassy in Manila. Not possible to lodge inside Australia.
The standard tourist-stream Subclass 600, which is all we ever manage, is lodged wherever the visa applicant is. If they are outside Australia in Philippines, we lodge in Manila. If the applicant is inside Australia and wants to stay a bit longer? We apply inside Australia. No, we don’t “extend” the current visa or apply for “an extension”. It’s a new application, and it’s an onshore application where the applicant is at lodgement time.
Partner Visa – Onshore or Offshore?
Again, it comes down to where the applicant is at lodgement time. Outside of Australia, and we apply for a Subclass 309. Inside Australia, and we apply for a Subclass 820. And as I explained, a few things are different especially when it comes to whether the marriage has taken place or not.
What about kids? Secondary applicants to a partner visa?
Big deal, and one that often causes confusion. If you want kids included in a visa application with their mum, they must be in the same place as mum at the time of application. If mum is offshore in Philippines, the kids must also be in Philippines. If mum visa applicant is inside Australia at the time of a partner visa application, the kids must also be inside Australia at that time or they cannot be included! Simple as that. If they are still in Philippines, they will miss out.
Bridging Visas – Offshore or onshore?
This seems to be one of the areas of regular confusion. People want bridging visas for offshore visa applications, or they think they can apply for a bridging visa whilst deciding on what visa to get, or to buy themselves more time while saving money. Here come the basic facts:
- Bridging visas are for ONSHORE visas only. No such thing as an offshore bridging visa!
- Bridging visas are granted automatically:
- When you apply for an ONSHORE visa application, and;
- The current visa runs out before they’ve finished processing the onshore visa application
- You don’t apply for a bridging visa by itself. No such thing as a stand-alone bridging visa.
- Bridging visas keep you lawfully (legally) inside Australia when you don’t have another visa. That’s all they do.
But yes, the ability to get a bridging visa is one of the advantages of an onshore application, especially when processing times are long. But then, offshore partner visas are a lot quicker these days and you don’t have the pressure of countdowns to expiring visas to worry about. We can prepare a great application without the pressure of a deadline, and we don’t need to hassle you so much.