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Neither of you have to travel to Australia to submit the 176.... That is all done offshore.

re: validating it - I don't think you have to travel together. If you both hold visas at that point, you can enter separately.

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Sorry i meant to say we are both in Australia at the moment so i think we have to travel to NZ to submit offshore and then leave again to validate the 176.
Its is fine to be in Australia for 176 but before you receive a final grant, you will get a pregrant from CO and will ask you to exit/enter to validate your visa for both of you.
 

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dreamaus advice is correct. There is no need to exit Australia to submit your visa application - the visa is submitted online, so all you need is a PC with an internet connection. However, as the 176 visa is an offshore visa, you will both be required to depart Australia in order for DIAC to issue your grant letters. Your CO will notify you when they are ready to issue your visa by means of a pre-grant letter and you can at this time make arrangements to leave.
 
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