These partner visas allow people to come to Australia to be with their de facto partner or spouse. The sponsoring partner must be an Australian citizen, Australian Permanent Resident or eligible NZ citizen.
Partner visas have a two-step process: temporary and permanent.
To apply for this visa you must be outside of Australia. If you are inside Australia you can apply for the Partner visa (subclasses 820 and 801). Both parties must be over the age of 18 at the time of application.
If you are married, there is not duration requirement for the relationship as long as it is genuine, ongoing and to the exclusion of all others.
If you are in a de facto relationship, you must have been in a relationship for 12 months immediately prior to the application.
Once the Provisional 309 visa (temporary) is granted, it is valid for two years. If the relationship is still genuine and ongoing at the end of 2 years, you will proceed to the permanent (Migrant) visa (100) without having to make another application.
The Partner (Provisional) visa (subclass 309) lets you work and study in Australia, and access Medicare. If you are granted the permanent visa you can additionally stay in Australia indefinitely, apply for Australia citizenship (when eligible), sponsor eligible relative for permanent residence and receive some social security payments.
You may be able to apply for the waiver of the two year temporary visa if you and your partner have a child of at least two years old (not a step-child) or have been in a relationship for at least 3 years.