FROM AUSTRALIA WITH LOVE: Partner Visa Applications Simplified

February 14, 2018

What Makes a Successful Partner Visa Application?

Happy Valentine’s Day! You’re assigned to work in Australia, and you want to bring your spouse or partner. How can you convince an Immigration officer that your relationship is genuine and continuing? Do you need lots of documents? Is some evidence better than others?  

For most Partner visa applicants, these are the biggest questions applicants ask themselves when preparing their applications. There are a lot of different opinions… and friends and forums will certainly give you numerous ideas and suggestions – maybe too many!

To cut through all the clutter, and get you off to a successful start… our Australian immigration experts proudly present… Newland Chase Australia’s

”Unofficial, but Essential, Real-World, Practical, Plain-Language, Expert Guide to Preparing Your Partner Visa Application for Australia”.

Talk to each other. This is going to be a long and emotional experience for both of you, and you need to be on the same page. Discuss any previous relationships, criminal convictions, and medical issues before lodging a Partner visa application. Similarly, if the applicant has a poor immigration history, such as overstaying visas, cancellations, or refusals, this can delay processing and give rise to questions about genuineness of the relationship. Identify any issues before immigration officers do. 

Refresh your memories. You will be required to confirm the dates of important events within your relationship – i.e. when you first met, started dating, moved in together, became engaged/married. Make sure you work out when these were and write up a timeline of your relationship. This information is used again and again in your application, so it needs to be consistent

Prioritise the paperwork. Keep in mind that you are trying to convince an Immigration officer of your relationship based on pieces of paper. So your documents are very important. Store your bills, mail, phone records, money transfers, bank statements, and other documents somewhere safe – digital or scanned copies are fine. And make sure you have plenty of photos of you as a couple, as well as the two of you with friends and family.

Forget the movies. This process is nothing like the movies. A Marriage Certificate, Civil Union Certificate, or a Registered Relationship Certificate alone will not necessarily get you your Partner visa. If anything, over-prepare your case.

Relationship history statements are your golden opportunity to tell your story of your relationship from the start to present. So make the most of it. Most Immigration offices no longer conduct face-to-face interviews as part of the Partner visa process, so this is your chance to provide insight into your life as a couple. Make sure you include key events in your relationship, any significant moments, how you felt about each other then and now, and your plans together for the future. 

For 12-month de facto relationships – first take a look at the earliest dated documents you have showing a shared address.  Even if you had been living together informally earlier… 12 months from the earliest documented date is the soonest you can safely apply for your Partner visa.

More is better. As a general rule, the more documents you can provide to support your relationship over a longer length of time, the better.  ImmiAccount (Australia’s online visa application system) has a limit of 60 attachments for online applications (including identity documents and police clearances), so you may need to compile documents into one file to attach.

Better is also better. It is also a case of quality over quantity. If you have strong documentation showing a shared household – such as joint lease agreements or property deeds, joint bank accounts, joint utility bills, and mutually beneficial wills – you may not need to rely on less substantial documentation (such as online order receipts, club memberships, and greeting cards), though these do still help your application. 

You can still maintain reasonable boundaries. This application process will delve into your personal lives – but don’t feel pressured to provide information or evidence of your intimate relationship.  If you are uncomfortable with an Immigration officer reading through or looking at very personal documents – don’t provide them. Even if you are comfortable, officers really don’t need to see explicit texts, emails, or photographs. 

Form 888 declarations from supporting witnesses are very important. Two forms are minimum… but provide more if you can.  Family members can complete these – but make sure you have some non-relatives as well, as that supports the “social aspect” of your relationship. Make sure your witnesses make detailed statements and provide certified evidence of their Australian Citizenship or Permanent Residence. A drivers licence is not sufficient.

Don’t rush. Processing times can be lengthy, so don’t rush to obtain police clearances or medical reports. Just keep an eye on the general processing times published on the Immigration website… or wait for a request from Immigration before spending the time and money needed to obtain these. Clearances are only valid for 12 months, so if you obtain them too early, you may end up having to do them again!

When in doubt, call us! There’s no substitute for expert guidance. And we’re romantics at heart. For assistance or case-specific questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to any one of our four Australia offices – located in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and Brisbane. (See contact information here.) Or email us at [email protected]. 

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