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Immigration / Migration

THE AUSTRALIAN SAME-SEX MIGRATION PROGRAM

by Brendan Hillis

A New Era for Same-sex Couples
Same-sex Options in Australia
De Facto Partner Visas
Refugee or Protection Visas
Other Resources

See also: Links - Immigration

GayLawNet®š - Immigration - Australia
Updated on 30 June 2009 at 2230K (GMT+10)

A New Era for Same-sex Couples

From 1 July 2009, same sex-couples will receive the same treatment as opposite-sex de facto couples, both as partners and parents. Interdependency visas will cease to exist in that name. The amendments do not apply to visa applications lodged before 1 July 2009.

There will also be new definitions and interpretations for family members:

Other relevant changes to Australian laws relating to same-sex partners can be found at: www.ag.gov.au/samesexreform

Same-sex Options in Australia

Australia has moved to eliminate discrimination of same-sex partners. This includes discrimination within Australia's migration program.

The migration program allows Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens to either sponsor their same-sex partner to migrate to Australia or for citizens of other countries to include their same-sex partner in most temporary and permanent visas applications.

Same-sex partners are now considered de facto Partner couples. De facto Partner couples must show evidence of a genuine and ongoing relationship of 12 months or more.

There are visas options which can be applied for both on-shore (within Australia) or off-shore (overseas).

Apart from de facto Partner visa classes, gay men and lesbians are able to apply for any of the many temporary and permanent visa subclasses available so long as they meet the relevant criteria within the visa subclass and they can include their same-sex de facto Partner in these visas applications and include children and step children of these relationships into these applications. Health and character criteria must of course be met.

De facto Partner Visas

A de facto Partner relationship is defined as "a relationship which is genuine and continuing between two people who are not in a prohibited degree of relationship (brothers, sisters, parents, children, uncles, aunts cousins etc), who have both turned 18 years of age, and who both have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of any spouse relationship who live together or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis".

The visa applicant must be sponsored by their de facto Partner who is an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.

The nominator must be willing to financially support the applicant for a period of two years, should the applicant be unable to find employment within Australia during this time.

Should the relationship between the Australian nominator and the applicant break down within the period of the long term temporary visa (the EETV) the applicant cannot remain in Australia on the basis of that application alone, unless:

Refugee or Protection Visas

Within Australia, systematic persecution of an individual or group on the basis of sexual orientation, is generally recognised as grounds for the grant of a Protection visa under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Convention and Protocol falling under the category of a "particular social group". It has generally been accepted in the High Court of Australia, that persecution based on sexual orientation falls within the Convention grounds and therefore requires protection.

The Author

Brendan Hillis is a barrister and solicitor and the principal of the firm Access Immigration. He is an Accredited Specialist in Immigration Law.

Other Resources

Fact sheets available from the Australian Department of Immigration & Citizenship:

Family Members: www.immi.gov.au/migrants/family/family-visas-partner.htm
Partner Migration booklet: www.immi.gov.au/allforms/booklets/books1.htm


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