If you’ve applied to come to Australia on a skilled visa, particularly visa subclasses 189, 190 and 491, and are thinking of getting married, the Immigration Department has brought in some new laws that may impact you.
When you lodged your application as a single person, you receive 10 points towards your points total. However, a new law now deducts these 10 points from you, under the Partner Qualifications regulations, if you get married or enter a de facto relationship, while your visa is under consideration.

What the new rule means?

These Partner points and State/Territory sponsorship points are a “time of decision” criteria, which means the case officer will decide on the allocation of these points at the time your file is being assessed. Other points like Age, English, Study, etc., are “time of invitation” criteria. These points are locked in when the invitation is sent to you to apply for the visa.

Therefore, if you were single at the time of invitation, you would have been allocated 10 points on the Expression of Interest system. If you marry or enter into a spouse relationship after the invitation, you automatically lose these points, regardless of the skills of your new partner. The only exemption to this is if your new partner is an Australian citizen or Australian Permanent Resident.

What losing these points means for your visa application?

The consequence of losing these points is that you may no longer be able to meet the total points claimed in your EOI at the time of invitation. And based on the strict regulations for points-based visas, your visa may be refused.
If you are not single, you can only claim the 10 points for the EOI for Partner Qualification if you include your spouse in the EOI (and not after). Your spouse must also have nominated a particular occupation from the list in the same subclass as you, obtained a positive skill assessment for this occupation and have valid evidence of competent English test result of not more than 3 years old.
If you claimed 10 points for being single at the time of invitation, and you have a spouse after the date of invitation who is not an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident, you will lose these 10 points.

What happens in the event you lose 10 points?

If your spouse is competent in English and is lucky enough a hold a valid English test result, before you receive your invitation, then you could be allocated 5 points if he/she has applied for the same subclass of visa as you.
However, these 5 allocated points instead of your earlier 10 points may not save your application, and your visa could be refused. Also, traditionally when a case officer assesses an applicant’s score, it is lower than what the applicant claimed in their EOI, and they are likely to refuse the application.

Other important information

The Immigration Department has a stringent policy for the allocation of points. For Partner points, the nominated occupation of the partner (spouse or de facto) must be on the Occupation List applicable for the same point-tested visa the primary applicant has applied for.
A suitable skills assessment needs to be obtained at the time of invitation but isn’t subject to the same time periods which apply to the primary applicant. So if a suitable skills assessment was obtained more than three years before the date of invitation, it can still be accepted.
If the Immigration Department finds any adverse or inconsistent information regarding an applicant’s marital or de facto relationship status, they will present this information to the applicant for comment. The applicant must respond to this or stand the risk of having their application rejected. As part of the response, an applicant can provide additional information or evidence to support their case.
These measures have been put in place to ensure that applicants who are married or in a de facto relationship are not awarded points based on claiming to be single.