Partner visa: some really good tips
You are in love, you dream of living in Australia, you saved for the application fee for the last 6 months and… you are also super anxious about your visa.
Perhaps one of you, or even both of you, have never been to Australia before.
Perhaps you feel that it is too early in your relationship to commit for a partner visa and sponsorship.
Perhaps you are together for the last two years, but it is mainly a long distance relationship and you have never lived together.
Maybe something else is bothering you.
But hey, you are not alone.
Applying for a partner visa, the nerve wrecking processing time and later settling into a new country as a resident, can be overwhelmingly emotional and difficult. More times than not, it is extremely troubling for you both and not just for the non-Australian partner.
If you have already started researching the topic, you probably found that the internet and the different social media platforms offer endless information and advice. Can you trust this information? Can you really rely on a stranger’s advice? How do you make a good application for a partner visa? How do you decide on the best approach for your special circumstances? Is it possible that the application will be refused despite your strong love for each other?
We, at Open World Immigration Services, have written this short guide to help you make your first step in the journey to live in Australia together a bit easier.
1. Are you ready?
To be eligible for a partner visa, you need to be in a genuine and continuing relationship. You also need to be committed to a shared life to the exclusion of all others. Not less important, you must have the right documents to support your relationship.
If you are not there yet, you may want to consider a different pathway before you apply for a partner visa, which will allow you time to strengthen your relationship and lodge a better partner visa application in the future.
In addition, when you submit applications for visa and sponsorship, you need to provide comprehensive information about yourselves. If you haven’t done so yet, this is the time to sit down with your partner and share information about previous partners, children, criminal record, health issues and more.
2. What visa are you applying for?
Partner visa application is actually two separate visa applications, which you apply for together using the same form.
The first visa is temporary, and the second one is permanent. If you are already in a long term relationship, you may be eligible to be granted a permanent visa immediately; in other cases, the temporary visa will be approved first and your eligibility for a permanent visa will be assessed two years after the initial application.
3. Where to lodge?
Think in advance where should you be when you apply for the visa, and consider factors such as work, future plans, processing times and your specific circumstances against the visa eligibility criteria. It is possible to apply for the partner visa from Australia or from offshore. If you lodge an application in Australia, you need to be in Australia when the application is decided. If you lodge an application outside Australia, you would normally need to be outside Australia for the decision. However, it should be noted that recently due to the pandemic, offshore partner applications can also be decided when the applicant is in Australia.
4. Important dates
Write down the history of your relationship and state important dates such as the day you met, the day the relationship started, the date you moved in together, your engagement or wedding date etc. This information is required throughout the application, and it is crucial you provide accurate and consistent answers.
5. What evidence to attach?
Remember: you need to tell the story of your relationship based on documents you can attach with your application. The chances of being invited to an interview are low, and therefore it is crucial you invest time and efforts in collecting high quality evidence to show you meet the requirements for the visa. Keep bank’s statements, rate notices, bills, fund transfers, photos and other documents in a safe place. When you apply you can use digital forms of the evidence, but you must keep the originals as well in case they are needed. If you don’t have any of the above, don’t worry just yet; if your relationship is long and genuine, there is nearly always a way to provide evidence to support the application.
If, despite your efforts, you do not have evidence for your relationship, you may need to consider a different strategy to move to Australia together.
6. How many documents can be attached to the application?
A maximum of 100 documents can be attached with the application for the applicant, and another 100 documents can be attached for the sponsor. If you have documents of the same type, such as photographs, you can save them as one documents. Also pay attention to the specific quality and formatting requirements for the supporting files.
7. If you are not married
If you lodge an application based on your “de-facto” relationship, check what is the earliest document you have that shows you lived together. If the document is less than 12 months old, you may need to wait with your application. The type of the document, and the rest of your evidence matters too.
Make sure all the declarations you attach with your application are consistent and do not include information that may compromise your application. Even if it is only a mistake (e.g. you state wrong dates) or a joke (an Instagram photo of yourself looking intimate with someone else) it may affect the assessment of your application.
9. Have you been refused a visa in the past? Was your visa cancelled? Are you in Australia but not holding any valid visa?
If you have a negative visa history, it may affect the assessment of your application and the evidence you need to provide.
10. When should you undergo health examinations and request police checks?
Health examinations and police checks have limited validity periods, and therefore you should undergo health examinations and apply for police checks if you are expecting your application to be processed within 12 months. If your examinations or police checks are not valid anymore, but your application is still undecided, you may need to do it all over again.
In some cases, police checks are valid for shorter periods of time, so you should take this into account when you manage your application.
11. Can my visa application be refused?
The short answer is Yes. Your visa application can be refused despite your expectations and efforts. You may disagree with the decision, but you won’t be able to change it without applying for a merits review. To avoid the pain, try to pre-assess your eligibility for the visa the best you can (or consult a migration agent). Then, make sure you provide high quality evidence to support your eligibility for the visa.
We wish all of you a smooth and successful process. The tips above were written based on extensive experience in the lodgment and management of partner visa applications, all with their own unique circumstances. This article is general in its nature and does not include all the information that may be relevant in a specific case. It is highly recommended to consult a registered migration agent for a specific and up-to-date advice for your own circumstances.
Contact us for additional information.