Are you looking to lodge a Partner Visa application? Watch our video series and we’ll help by taking you through the steps you need to lodge that Partner Visa successfully!
We take a look at the type of visa options available to you and your partner to begin the process of being together in Australia:
(1) Partner Visa (aka :Marriage Visa, Spouse Visa, De-Facto Visa)
Onshore (Subclass 820)
Offshore (Subclass 309)
(2) Prospective Marriage Visa (aka Fiancé Visa) (Subclass 300)
So, if you, as a foreigner have fallen in love with an Australian OR as an Australian you have found love outside and want to spend the rest of your lives together in Australia, you first need to decide which visa type will get you both where you want to be.
Now in terms of bringing your partner here to Australia, if you are an Australian citizen or Permanent Resident, there are a couple of different options available.
Let's start off by being clear about the terms used to describe these options which are the Partner Visa and the Prospective Marriage Visa. These are often referred to as the ‘PARTNER VISA, MARRIAGE VISA, SPOUSE VISA and the DE-FACTO VISA’.
In fact, these terms all relate to the Partner Visa. The Partner Visa can be applied for on the basis of being in a De Facto relationship or being legally married. Either way, both situations relate to the Partner Visa which is the pathway for these two circumstances.
And then, there's the Prospective Marriage Visa which is sometimes called the ‘Fiancé Visa’. This visa is applied for from OUTSIDE of Australia. Upon grant, it allows the visa holder to travel into Australia and get married to their Australian citizen partner or Permanent Resident partner.
Now let’s get into a bit more detail describing these visas.
With the Partner Visa, there are a couple of numbers which describe the different pathways. If you're applying for the Partner Visa from INSIDE Australia, your visa will be called the ‘Subclass 820’ Visa. If you're applying for the Partner Visa from OUTSIDE Australia, meaning the visa applicant's out of Australia at the time of applying, the Partner Visa you're applying for is will be called the ‘Subclass 309’ Visa.
On the other hand, thankfully the Prospective Marriage Visa just has one Subclass, the ‘Subclass 300’ and this visa is always applied for from OUTSIDE of Australia.
So, there you have it in a nutshell! These are the options available when you're planning to bring your partner to Australia long-term.
And as always, our advice is to look for the right visa to bring your loved one to Australia. Talk to a Registered Migration Agent or a Migration Lawyer to find the best visa pathway for your particular situation.
Like it or not, Partner / Prospective Marriage Visa grant decision makers apply a SUBJECTIVE element when they judge your relationship status. ‘Be Prepared!’ is our advice, and to help with your visa preparation, we ask questions and list factors you should consider covering in your visa submission. We highly recommend you consider investing in an advice session with a Registered Migration Agent.
So the next step is working out which of the visas mentioned is the right fit for you and your partner. Now, the way this decision is made is based on a number of different things. The key difference when applying for a Partner Visa / Prospective Marriage Visa compared to other visas such as Skilled Visas or Student Visas is that there's a very SUBJECTIVE ELEMENT involved when a decision maker says “Yes!” or “No!” to a Partner Visa application.
You see, our opinion about the nature of your relationship and whether or not it's ‘genuine and continuing’ may be different from somebody else's, and you have to consider this when thinking about putting your case forward to Immigration. So it's really important to get advice to make sure you cover all the elements required.
In terms of getting advice, we recommend investing in paid advice from a Registered Migration Agent. There are many Migration Agents who will offer good, free advice, but in our experience and what we have heard from our clients, quite often those ‘free advice’ sessions can end up being just a sales pitch. It's like anything in life, you really DO get what you pay for.
It’s really important to be prepared when you go for the advice session. Have a chat with your partner beforehand and work through the following questions:
Apart from deciding which visa type to choose, these factors are all important and your answers will help you decide WHEN you are going to be able to apply for the visa and consider other questions such as:
And so these are the kind of considered questions you really need to bring along for your advice session when you have your recommended ‘one-on-one’ with a Registered Migration Agent.
In addition, some examples of other things you need to be talking about are:
All of this background information is going to be essential for your migration agent to know to be able to advise you on which Partner Visa is going to be most suitable.
And of course, your agent is there to answer your questions too! Some examples of questions you and your partner need to ask are:
And to re-cap, we recommend at a very minimum, you pay for a one-on-one advice session with a Registered Migration Agent. Look at it this way; just say your Driver's Licence cost $7,000, would you go to your exam, where you have just one chance to pass, having taken one lesson before doing the exam? Remember, you don't have to use a Migration Agent when it comes to lodging the application, but please, at a minimum, just go ahead and get professional advice (which costs less than $200!!) for your own peace of mind. Go on! Sit down with a Registered Migration Agent and have a clear plan of what you need to do.
After all, your relationship is WORTH IT!!!
Evidence preparation is a major item and it is important to convince Immigration your relationship has the GENUINE Factor. You can do this by showing evidence your relationship covers what we call the ‘Four Pillars of Relationships’:
We give some examples of how you can expand on these aspects out in your submission.
Once you have had professional advice, you should be very clear about what evidence is going to be important for your application and how much evidence you are going to need to provide. You could be faced with one of two situations; your Registered Migration Agent may say, "Great! It's time to get the ball rolling. I think you're in a good position to lodge now." Or, after hearing your story, they may say, "Look, now's not the right time," meaning your timing may not be right and you would benefit from further preparation and are advised to apply at a later stage.
All this points to the fact it's a really good idea to start preparing your evidence IN ADVANCE.
Moving on to the types of evidence you will need, we focus on helping you show the decision makers you have the Four Pillars of the Relationship - Financial, Social, Nature of your Household, Nature of your Commitment – well and truly covered. In fact, Immigration looks at these factors too.
While we know there are loads of other things you're going to need, such as identity documents and things like that, here we focus on proving the GENUINE aspect of your relationship. This really means that yours is not a fake or fraudulent relationship; you're mutually exclusive and are committed to each other. The concept of the ‘Four Pillars’ is a really great way to get your head around the ‘genuine aspect’ and we’ll explain what is involved to help you prepare your evidence, even if you're planning a year in advance.
First off, we look at the Financial Aspect which covers questions such as: How do you pool your resources? How does the money operate in your relationship? It's definitely not a question of asking if you are rich or poor. You and your partner need to explain, "How DOES the money work?" In effect, does the money work in your relationship in a way that has the decision-maker believe you have been together for the period you're claiming, and that you intend to be together long-term? A really easy way to evidence this is by having a joint bank account, but please be aware this is not a definitive factor so you don't need to run out and open one if you don’t have it! Other examples of the financial aspect of the relationship could be that you have separate bank accounts and share payments for things whereby you transfer funds to each other, or if one person is paying the expenses of the partner, you will have proof of these transactions.
Secondly, we get onto the Social Aspect. This is usually pretty easy for people. This includes the involvement of friends and family, and the people who matter to you who know about the relationship. Or, is the relationship a secret?
We generally find that when people are in a genuine relationship, they share the relationship with their friends and family. They tell them they have a partner, they introduce them either physically or via Skype. They also tend to spend time with their partner socially among other people.
Other activities to consider within the Social Aspect of the relationship are questions like: Do you plan your social life together, or go off your separate ways like housemates? Preferably, you plan your social life together. This would include things like holidays, whether you go to the markets on a Saturday together, whether you as a couple have a favourite restaurant, perhaps you both go to the local RSL, and in this instance, you’ll have matching RSL cards. All these are just some examples which go towards proving the Social Aspect of your relationship.
Social Media is always a great way to evidence your relationship. Being ‘Facebook Official’ isn't the only way to evidence your relationship though, and you don't have to rush out and make yourself Facebook Official. Your relationship can still be ‘official’ even if it's not Facebook Official. But if you do use Social Media, and you've provided evidence of life together on Social Media, say you have posted a picture of the two of you out somewhere together, then screenshots of posts like this can be included in your submission.
Thirdly, we get onto the Nature of your Household. In reality, this covers your day to day activities which answer questions like: How does the relationship work? What chores do you share? What shared responsibilities do you have in your household? Are there children you're jointly responsible for?
With the clients we look after, we will also ask about any other family members / extended family you may be responsible for. For example, in my relationship, we like to help my mum from time to time, or we have family members that we like to go and visit together, and we help out if needed. In your case, it might be that you have an elderly parent or a neighbour that the two of you go and do things for, or, you may have a ‘pet-share’ relationship with a friend. If you have children, write down how you share the responsibilities of their care. All of these are some of the things to consider including in your application to evidence the Nature of your Household.
Other things to think about and mention are the obvious ones such as: Who does the dishes? Who does the cooking? Who pays the bills? Who does the driving? You may not have tangible paper evidence for things like these, but it's really important to start to think about: How does OUR household work? You will need to explain this in your statements.
And so we come to the fourth pillar which is the Nature of your Commitment. This aspect really covers questions such as: Are the two of you on the same page as far as the future's concerned? Do you draw a strong degree of emotional support from each other? Do you support each other? Do you have knowledge of each other's personal circumstances? Do you both see the relationship as long-lasting?
Now, very similar to the ‘Nature of your Household’ items, it can be difficult to think up ways to evidence this aspect of the relationship. But don’t worry, this is something your migration agent can help you with in your advice session. For example, a way of proving this is obviously through showing the duration of your relationship. If you've been together for quite a long time, and you can prove evidentially how far back your relationship goes, this is one of MANY ways to show your commitment.
In addition to the above, other examples we have come across which demonstrate the ‘Nature of your Commitment’ could include having listed each other as beneficiaries to your Superannuation. (However, this particular example is something we would advise you to get independent advice on doing). Some couples may have had wills drafted together. Other couples have evidence of shared responsibility for children; perhaps they have children together, or have bought a house or car together, or have a shared loan. Similar instances might include signing up for a pet together, like the commitment involved in getting a dog. All of these cases support the idea of a long-term relationship, suggesting couples are going to be attached for a very long time.
Other things to think about and write down would be the difficult times you've had in your relationship, how you have overcome these and your knowledge of each other's personal circumstances. Mentioning shared values are important as well. Perhaps you belong to the same faith, and church is a really important part of your lives. It may be that you're both Vegan, or that one of you has become Vegan for the other person. You might have supported your partner through difficult times in the past. Possibly one of you was sick, or one of you lost someone you care about, and your partner helped you get through the tough times.
And so in conclusion, we hope you get the idea of what the concept of ‘Four Pillars of a Relationship’ is all about. It is really important that you flesh these out in your advice session. Even if you are looking at lodging a Prospective Marriage Visa instead of a Partner Visa, these aspects are important to consider as the Prospective Marriage Visa looks at your INTENTION to live together as spouses. To prove your intention to live together, Immigration may have regard for those Four Pillars. We hope our examples of the four different aspects help you and your partner to get it all done and dusted!!!
Get your community involved in your Partner Visa Application! It’s going to be beneficial to have people who know you involved in putting your application together because they can help you provide a statutory declaration or witness statement which will strengthen the notion that your relationship is the real thing.
Who else needs to be involved in the Partner Visa process?
The Australian citizen/Permanent Resident, SPONSOR and the VISA APPLICANT are not the only ones involved in the process, you're going to need to get the communities you belong to INVOLVED as well. This means including your family, your friends, your work colleagues and extends to activities such as if you attend a gym regularly or if you volunteer somewhere. It will be beneficial to have people you regularly interact with involved in putting your application together. Their involvement extends to providing you with a Statutory Declaration or a Witness Statement. This will help Immigration see that not only do the two of you believe you're in a genuine relationship together, but other people share the same opinion and can give evidence and provide examples of to support their view.
Who can provide a Witness Statement?
The examples given above are a good starting point. It is a really good idea to have a variety of witnesses. For example, if you're somebody who has four siblings, getting statements from all four siblings won’t be overly beneficial. A better plan would be to get statements from an assortment of people you know, such as a parent, a sibling, a workmate, and a mutual friend of you and your partner.
What makes a good Witness Statement?
A really well-drafted witness statement is a good one; we have seen many ‘generic’ Witness Statements which don’t have much ‘punch’ such as those that say:
"I believe Emma and John are in a genuine relationship, I have no doubts about this";
"They're both honest people";
"I wish them all the best for the future".
The examples given above are very much just statements which aren’t going to add weight to the decision-makers take on the authenticity of your relationship.
It's really important that your witnesses give EXAMPLES of why they believe your relationship is genuine, the ‘real deal’. Examples to convey this might be the following:
"I've been to Emma and John's house. We had dinner at their home. I could see they live there together";
"They attend social events together";
"I know that they both like to go fishing together";
"I've been to parties with them";
"We went on a weekend away together, they shared a room".
As you can see, the more detailed the statement is, the stronger it will be for your application. Get your witnesses to give real examples, not just fairly meaningless well-wishers sentiments. Get as much information down as possible in those statements and encourage your witnesses to use all the space provided in the form.
Make the budget a priority in your Partner Visa application journey. You want this Partner Visa process to be FUN, EXCITING and FOCUSSED on your future.
Fees to budget for include:
A really important part of this process is BUDGETING. We've seen too many situations where people have put themselves into a really difficult situation financially which in turn puts pressure on your relationship. This is really the last thing you want.
You want this Partner Visa process to be FUN, EXCITING, and FOCUSSED on your future. You don't want it to leave you in a crippling situation financially. You don't want to RUSH into lodging a Partner Visa because you're missing each other too much. For the sake of eventually being together, taking the time to plan is worth the sacrifice if it means you're going to be in a better situation financially when you DO lodge.
The Visa application charge (Currently $7000) is the first obvious cost you need to budget for. It's a significant fee, and quite often is all people focus on. Which is where the trouble starts; you need to remember the Partner Visa application charge is just one component of the budget.
Translations are another thing you need to budget for and if you're going to have documents translated into English, you're looking at roughly $40 a page.
The Visa Medicals add further cost to your budget. Every person involved in the visa application, including children, will need to have a complete Visa Medical done. The current cost is about $400 per applicant. In addition, with secondary applicants such as children for example, there are additional visa application charges per applicant. For example, if you have a family of four that you're bringing over, it can cost you a pretty penny JUST in the visa application fees alone.
Flights / Airfares / Visitor Visas add further cost to your budget. If your partner is outside of Australia at the time of application and during the waiting period, you're going to make use of Visitor Visas (Subclass 600) or trips back and forth to spend time with each other. The cost of the visa and airfares combined all add up. And when your visa IS finally granted, if your partner is overseas, don’t forget to factor in the cost of the ticket to bring your partner into Australia.
Insurance is another important thing to budget for. While your partner is in Australia on a Visitor Visa during the waiting period, travel insurance is really important.
And if your partner is in Australia on a Visitor Visa for part of the processing time and once your partner settles here, you're going to need to factor in the period where your partner doesn't have Work Rights and can't work.
In addition to this, it's important to give your partner a bit of a break and not expect they're going to be able to get a job the moment they hit the ground in Australia. It is difficult to settle into a new country, even if you speak the same language. It is important to give your partner a bit of time and a bit of space to assimilate, to learn the ropes, learn how to get on the bus and start applying for work. You need to expect there will be some time where you will be reliant on a single income.
To conclude, that’s our take on budgeting for the process in a nutshell! If you take our advice, we believe you’ll take a whole lot of stress off your application process.
Be patient once you have lodged your Partner Visa application and trust that the Department of Home Affairs is looking into your application and assessing it the best way possible based on the evidence you have provided them. Keep the application up-to-date by providing additional evidence every three months but otherwise, avoid contacting the department.
Yes!! Once you have reached this step, let's assume you're nearly there. You’ve put in all the preparation and you're almost at the finish line. You have budgeted, you're ready to go. You've lodged your application!
So, what next? Well, here patience is a virtue. It's really important you literally sit on your hands while you're waiting for your application to be processed. Calling Immigration, pestering them, emailing them - none of these actions are going to result in a speedy outcome. When we lodge an application, there's a period where we have no contact with Immigration at all, unless they contact us. In reality, the standard visa processing time is a period where Immigration are not even required to respond if you send them an email. The only time you can expect to hear from Immigration is if they need updated evidence, or if they need you to do your Visa Medicals or your Police Checks. In the interim, you're going to get very little response from them if you do contact them, and any pestering from your side may actually take them away from doing their job.
The department’s job is to take the time to review your application in order to give you fair and considered decisions. If they are distracted by responding to 50,000 people who've lodged Partner Visas and are ‘just checking in to see how it's going’, they won’t have time to process any applications. Again, we really do encourage you to avoid contacting them while the review is underway. We know it’s tough but be patient.
Although there is no requirement to do so, when we put applications together, every three or four months we'll do an update of evidence into the Immigration portal, just to keep that application fresh and up-to-date. Apart from this, please just sit on your hands and avoid bugging Immigration. Your application will be considered in due course and then, ‘Woohoo!!’ it’s all systems go.
This does not constitute immigration advice. Always seek advice from a Registered Migration Agent before applying for an Australian Visa. Migration Law is constantly changing. This information is accurate only at the time of publishing.