Diversity arising from people moving around the world and the relationships that form across borders means that The Migration Agency’s partner visa practice is on the rise.
We work with many clients to bring them closer to the people they love. In our experience, a partner visa application can be a significant milestone in a relationship but it can also be daunting, not only because of the large number of documents you need to provide, but because it has one of the highest Government charges (currently $7,160).
Relationships come in all shapes and sizes and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for partner visas. From arranged marriages to long distance relationships, to de facto couples and long term marriages, the approach to an application and demonstrating a relationship is genuine and meets the partner criteria for grant of the visa may vary. However, based on our experience we have found that there are some common themes with partner visa applications.
Therefore, we share our top 5 tips for lodging a successful partner visa application:
Tip # 1 Chose your type of visa carefully
There are two types of partner visas:
- Offshore partner / spouse visa
This is a visa for couples or visa applicants who are living outside of Australia. Once the visa is granted, you may enter Australia and assume residence in Australia. If is for applicants who are in a de facto relationship or married and where the couple is prepared to wait offshore until the grant of the visa.
- Onshore partner / spouse visa
This is a visa for applicants who are already located in Australia. The benefit of this type of application is that in many cases, the visa applicant can remain in Australia during processing of the partner whilst holding a bridging visa. Given the lengthy processing times, currently up to 21 months, applying onshore is certainly a favourable option.
In both cases, your application is for both a temporary and a permanent partner visa at the same time. Unless you can demonstrate that you have been in a relationship with your partner for more than three years, or you have children together, a temporary visa will be granted in the first instance. Where a temporary visa is granted initially, you can apply for permanent residence two years after the date you submitted your application.
Tip # 2 Make sure you satisfy all the visa criteria
Applying for a partner visa is not simply a matter of showing both parties are in a relationship, and therefore it is important to check that your relationship satisfy the “partner criteria” before submitting an application.
For example, if you are not married and you are wanting to apply for the partner visa, you must demonstrate that you have been in a de-facto relationship with your partner for a minimum of 12 months. In addition, you must also prove that you meet the partner criteria including that you have shared your financial affairs, there is a commitment to each other, you are socially known as a couple, and you have shared living arrangements.
If you submit an application and it turns out you are not eligible, or you have provided insufficient evidence of your relationship, then you are at risk of losing your the application fee paid. Refunds are not available if your partner visa is refused and not every applicant will have review rights.
Tip # 3 Prepare your supporting documents
Collating and organising your supporting documents prior to lodging your application is very important – doing this helps you determine whether you satisfy all of the visa criteria.
The supporting documents you provided should evidence that your relationship is genuine and show the duration of your relationship. The case officer will look for evidence that you meet each of the partner criteria, therefore it is insufficient to provide evidence of your shared finances and social photos, and none of your living arrangements and commitment to each other.
It is possible to be refused a partner visa even if you are married or living together, if you fail to evidence each of the partner criteria.
Supporting statements from your family and friends are also important – these should be made by people that have known you for at least 2 years, and can attest to the fact that your relationship is genuine. These statements demonstrate that you are known as a committed couple to your family and friends.
Tip # 4 Respond promptly to requests from the Department of Home Affairs
We have be approached by couples who were clearly in a committed relationship – they were married and living together for a number of years – but they had been refused a visa due to failing to respond to the Department’s requests for further information in relation to a particular criteria.
During processing of your visa application, the Department may write to you requesting additional information to support your application. Ensure that your contact details with the Department are kept up to date. If you receive such a request, be sure to respond within the timeframe specified – typically 28 days. Failure to respond can result in your application being refused.
Tip # 5 Do not provide false or misleading information
Honesty is the best policy, and declaring all relevant information in your application is important to show that your relationship is genuine.
Check every detail of your application form is correct before you submit your application. Printing the application form before submitting is a useful way to proof read it to ensure it is free from errors.
In some instances the Department can not only refuse your visa but also bar you from re-applying for another visa if your application contained conflicting or inaccurate information.
Get help when needed
Every relationship is different, and each application will have its own particular requirements and documentary evidence to be provided to demonstrate a relationship is genuine and meets the partner criteria for grant of the visa.
If you are not confident that your application is straightforward, it would be worthwhile seeking the assistance of an experienced Registered Migration Agent to conduct an eligibility assessment, review your documentation and manage the entire visa process for you.
Our approach to assisting with Partner visa applications starts with an assessment of you and your partner’s individual circumstances. We will develop a strategy for lodging an application from within or outside Australia based on the particular needs of you and your partner. For example, we take into consideration your preferences to live together, any work or study plans, as well as the best interests of any children to the relationship to secure the most favourable immigration outcome possible.
Should you require further assistance with your partner visa application, the next step is to book an appointment to speak with one of our Senior Consultants www.themigrationagency.com.au/book. We will review your circumstances and provide an honest opinion regarding your application.