We are often asked by students if it is possible to add their boyfriend or girlfriend as a secondary applicant to their student visa. The short answer is yes, it MAY be eligible depending on your circumstances. It is possible to be added as a secondary applicant both before and after the main applicant has applied for a student visa. *Please note whether or not you can add your partner as a secondary applicant is dependent on your specific circumstances.

Some of the main reasons why you would want to be added as a secondary applicant to your partners student visa include:

  • If you don’t want to pay the course tuition fees to study a separate course
  • If you have started a relationship with a new partner and don’t want to return home.
  • If you have finished your course and your partner still has time to go on their course

Case Study

We previously had a French client who wanted to apply to be added as a secondary applicant to her partners student visa. Here is a little background of her case:

A French girl had met an Argentinian man in Australia and they began a relationship. The French girl was on a working holiday visa, however it was expiring very soon. The Argentinian man had a student visa and his course would not finish for another 18 months. The French girl did not want to study a course in Australia and had no other visa options that would allow her to work in Australia.

  • Neither the French girl or Argentinian man had listed the other as a De Facto Partner on their previous visa applications.

With a little work, we were successfully able to add the French girl as a secondary applicant to her Argentinian partners student visa. We did not need to cancel the Argentinian’s original student visa. The French girl made a separate application to be added as a secondary applicant of her Argentinian partner, provided the correct supporting documents and had her visa was granted roughly three weeks after application.

The French girl was granted a secondary applicant student visa, with limited work rights (40 hours per fortnight). Her visa would expire the same day as her partners student visa.


Common FAQ’s


Please note the information given below is a general overview and not specific to any one situation. To fully determine your eligibility it is recommended that you talk to Immigration or a Registered Migration Agent.

What should I do if I want to add my partner to my student visa?

If you are applying for a student visa and there is the possibility that you may want to add them as a secondary applicant after the student visa, then you should consider listing them as a de facto partner on your initial student visa application. If you do not list your partner as a de facto on your initial student visa application, it makes the application process a little more complex and difficult in the future.

Can I list my partner as a de facto partner on a new application, if I didn’t list them as a de facto partner on my initial student or working holiday visa?

Yes you may be able to. However Immigration may ask why you didn’t list them as a de facto partner on your initial student visa application. Just to let you know, “I forgot”, is generally not a good enough excuse. No matter if the relationship is a newly formed or long term relationship, you will need to demonstrate that you meet the De Facto relationship requirement. This means that you have demonstrated commitment to a shared life together, and that you have lived together for 12 months. (*There may be a few ways to get around the 12 months living arrangement) There are also several other steps to take to update your relationship status with Immigration.

Can I work as a secondary applicant?

Generally speaking, the secondary applicant will be given the same work rights as a student (so you can work for up to 40 hours per fortnight). However this is discretionary granted by the case officer.

Can I add my partner as a secondary applicant on another visa such as a 457 visa?

You can add your partner as a secondary applicant to most permanent and temporary work visas including the 457 visa and general skilled migration visa

What is the cost to add my partner to my visa?

If you apply at the same time of the main applicant the current cost is $405. If you apply separately to the main applicant the cost is $550 (Prices current as of May 2nd, 2017).

How long does the process take?

The time taken can really depend on what assessment level the main applicant is. When we have assisted clients it has taken anywhere from 1 week – 1 month.

Can I apply from onshore?

Yes you can usually apply from onshore, provided you do not have a no further stay condition on your visa. Or any other condition preventing you from applying within Australia.

Will I need to continue paying tuition fees and finish my current course if I am added as a secondary applicant?

Once a student has successfully been granted the secondary applicant visa, they are no longer required to attend class or pay future tuition fees for the course they were previously studying. However you must let the education provider know that you no longer intend to study so they can cancel your enrollment and will not charge you.

Will I need to show financial evidence?

It is advised that if the main applicant is from an assessment level 2 or 3 country, that you will need to provide financial documentation proving you have sufficient finances to support yourself and your partner in Australia.

Do I need to cancel my visa and re-apply?

It is very common for someone in a relationship to not want to study anymore. Perhaps the couple is under financial stress and can no longer afford two tuitions fees. Perhaps they simply do not want to continue studying the course. Whatever you do, be sure to seek advice before canceling your student visa.. If you cancel your student visa, you will become an unlawful citizen. This means that it may make it a lot more difficult for you in the future to apply for visas. Instead, it may be best to just apply for the new secondary applicant visa whilst on your current visa. Once the new visa is granted, the secondary applicant will no longer need to attend or pay for future tuition fees. For more information about canceling your student visa, read this article

What assessment level will I be assessed?

The secondary applicant will be assessed as the same assessment level of the main applicant. If the main applicant is from an assessment level 1 country, the secondary applicant will generally only be assessed as an assessment level 1 applicant, regardless of what country they come from.

What happens to my visa if my partner and I break up?

If you break up with your partner, you are no longer the De Facto partner of the main applicant. Therefore, it is a requirement to notify Immigration to changes in the family unit. Consequently, if you break up, you may need to leave Australia, or apply for a different visa.


If you are interested in adding your partner as a secondary applicant to your student visa or have any questions about the process, please feel free to contact Pathway to Aus:

P: +61 7 55 327 000

E: info@pathwaytoaus.com

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