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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Tan


As part of the federal budget for 2020-21, the government announced that by this month, November 2021 reforms will be implemented to strengthen the outcome of the integration of its partner programs.

Currently, sponsorship and partner visa applications are filed at the same time and there are no English language requirements for partners or their sponsors. The new reforms scheduled to come into effect on or around November 2021 will require partner visa applications to comply with:

  1. English language requirement for permanent resident sponsors and Partner visa applicants; and

  2. Applying the sponsorship framework specified in the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Act 2018 to the Partner visa program. This means that sponsorship applications are evaluated separately and must be approved before submitting a valid partner visa application.

The Department of Home Affairs (the Department) is currently seeking community feedback to update the new English requirements for the Partner Visa Program and the framework and implementation of the Sponsorship Framework.


New English language requirements for Partner visa applicants and permanent resident sponsors will encourage and support English acquisition.

  • A permanent resident must meet the English language requirements as part of the sponsorship assessment.

  • Partner visa applications are processed in two stages and partner visa applicants will only need to meet the English language requirements during the second stage assessment, which is often two years after the provisional Partner visa application is lodged.

Reasonable effort to learn English

Partners can continue to travel and stay in Australia on a temporary partner visa and access government-funded Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) classes for learning English.

The department reviews your level of English proficiency and your efforts to learn English. Partner visa applicants and permanent resident sponsors may meet the English language requirement if they can prove that they have made a “reasonable effort” to learn English.

A reasonable effort to learn English could include participating in government-funded AMEP tuition. Previously, AMEP participants had access to up to 510 hours of lessons. The AMEP program currently offers unlimited hours, and changes continue to be made to improve access to online learning, including by those with family responsibilities.

Other means of meeting the requirement and supporting evidence

Other means of meeting the English language requirement may be an appropriate score on an approved English language test; holding a valid passport from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, or when the applicant has obtained a degree where all instructions are in English.


The English language proficiency requirement will be introduced into the Partner program at the end of 2021 and will apply to applications submitted on or after the effective date.


The department considers exceptions for certain situations, such as when you have learning difficulties/disabilities.

We strongly recommend that you apply for a partner visa as soon as you meet the criteria. Partner visas are a complex process and may not be as simple as they look. Contact Wayfinder Migration for advice and guidance to maximize your chances of success.

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