Question of the Week

A partner stuck in the US - and what to do about it?

Category: Partner Visa

Question asked


I have a girlfriend of 4yrs in St Louis USA, and we was planning in her coming to Australia back in March. I live on my own, and I was critically ill 12mths ago spent 3mths in hospital, I am still not a well person , she was frantic and wanted to be here.

I am waiting on critical knee surgery and is anticipated for late November, I will be incapacitated for 6 to 8 weeks, my girlfriend wants to be here with me, and further support my recovery.

I have no family locally, my mother is elderly not in good health lives in Batemans Bay, I live in Royalla just on the edge of Canberra/NSW border. I am very much isolated, and upon having surgery will have very limited support from NSW health. I will need assistance and support with everyday life.

Please advise given the current border closures if an exemption could be obtained, what visa best, and the most economical methods we can use. It is intended further on that we marry have family etc. She is in very good health, and is presently a motel manager, she further has been CV19 free.


Answer provided by Migration Agent

Dear C.,

I am very sorry to hear that you have had a difficult year health wise, and I am sure this is further compounded by the current travel bans in place.

I am assuming that your girlfriend is a citizen of the US. In order for her to be able to visit you there are two separate issues we need to address

1. The most appropriate visa for her to enter Australia

2. The current travel ban and basis for requesting an exemption to enter.


For a citizen of the US to enter Australia, under normal circumstances I would recommend that they apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (Subclass 651), and assuming no criminal convictions this is a straightforward process for US citizens. At present this visa program is essentially on hold. If your girlfriend already holds a valid Subclass 651 then she could enter on that as long as it is in effect (subject to being granted an exemption). If she doesn't, then I would advise her to apply for a Subclass 600 visitor Visa in the Tourism Stream. She could request 3ither 3,6 or 12 months.

The cost of a Subclass 600 visitor visa is $155 AUD.

In the current circumstances, to be granted a Subclass 600 visitor visa it would be important to evidence:

- your relationship (photos/ evidence of communication/ flights to see each other/ money transfers to each other/ letters from friends and family)
- your ongoing medical situation and the need to have her here to support you (letter from your doctor/ Evidence of upcoming knee surgery/ Evidence of illness in the last 12 months)
- Evidence that she can cover all costs of the trip

The main difficulty with a visitor visa, is that unless she is able to be granted an exemption to enter Australia, then any corresponding visitor visa application is not likely to be granted.

Exemption to Enter:

There are currently very limited grounds on which an exemption to enter Australia can be granted.

The first is that an applicant is an 'immediate family member' of an Australian citizen or Permanent resident. That is she is either your spouse or your de facto partner. If you have not lived together yet, then it is unlikely you would have the evidence to support the fact you are in a de facto relationship. Evidence should show that you a. have shared finances, b. present socially as a couple, c. have a shared household and d. have a commitment to a life together

The second basis is that there is a 'compelling and compassionate need' for an applicant to enter Australia.

I would suggest that you lodge an exemption to enter request on the basis of being in a committed relationship, and the compelling need for your partner to be here to support you. This exemption request can be lodged in tandem with a visitor visa application. It is free to lodge an exemption request, and this can be done through the following portal:

Evidence that I would recommend you provide includes:

- Evidence of the relationship/ all times spent together
- Evidence of the fact you have been extremely ill over the last 12 months (letter from doctor/ psychologist if applicable/ evidence of hospital admission)
- Evidence of upcoming surgery (surgery booking/ letter from doctor)
- Statutory declaration from yourself outlining the need for your partner to be here/ difficulties you are experiencing emotionally and practically
- Letter from family stating they are unable to assist/ knowledge of the relationship

The difficulty is that the current exemption request system is very subjective. It is unlikely you would be considered to be in a de facto relationship, and therefore it is imperative you can evidence the compelling need for her support at this difficult time.

Considerations: If your partner is granted a visitor visa and an exemption to enter, the costs of incoming travel, and quarantine is very high. There is a cap on how many people can enter Australia from overseas, and as such flight tickets are very expensive and prone to cancellation. Quarantine is currently $3000 for one individual.

Future Visa Options: These are dependent on the outcome of any visitor visa/ travel exemption request:

Option 1: If your girlfriend is able to enter Australia then it may be possible to lodge a partner visa from inside of Australia. The eligibility for a grant of a partner visa is that you are either:

- in a marital relationship
- in a de facto relationship that is at least 12 months in duration, or your relationship is registered in New South Wales

Option 2: If your girlfriend is unable to be granted a visitor visa, then you may be eligible to lodge an offshore Prospective Marriage Visa on the basis that you plan to marry when she enters Australia (this is dependent on you both being free to marry)


Visitor Visa application: $155

Partner Visa Application: $7,715

Offshore Prospective Marriage Visa Application: $7,715

I am more than happy to have a chat about our fees to assist you with any or all of these applications.

I know this all may seem overwhelming. Once you have had a chance to read through please reach out to me and we will arrange a call to clarify/ discuss next steps.

Thank you for using Ask-An-Agent. If you need further services from myself, you can always message me using the Ask-An-Agent messenger or chat. You can also reach me by contacting Amy at – and don’t forget to mention your question ID so that I can keep providing immigration services to you.

Kind regards

Migration Agent

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