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It’s not as easy as it sounds

So, you’re in a relationship and you’re ready to progress to the next stage and apply for an Australian partner visa. You’ve been seeing each other for a while now, and you’ve even gone ‘Facebook official’. Not to mention all those selfies you’ve amassed together. Should be a walk in the park, right? Wrong!

Even though you might think you’re in a de facto relationship, your interpretation of a partnership and the Australian Government’s idea of one could be dramatically different.

If you’re applying for an 820/801 visa or a 309/100 visa, your relationship will need to stand up to some serious scrutiny. You’ll have to collect various types of evidence to ensure that you meet the criteria.

What is a de facto relationship?

Ask yourself this… do you live as though you’re a married couple? Do you share finances and is your relationship recognised by your family and wider social circle?

If the answer is yes, you’re probably safely in a de facto relationship. If, on the other hand, the only thing you share is popcorn at the cinema and bad hangovers, your partner application is unlikely to succeed!

According to the Family Court of Australia, a de facto relationship is defined in Section 4AA of the Family Law Act 1975 as a partnership between a couple who are living together “on a genuine domestic basis”. However, it notes that “your relationship is not a de facto relationship if you were legally married to one another or if you are related by family”.

Partner visa evidence

Documents showing your shared financial commitments are crucial. When assessing your application, the Case Officer will give weight to evidence such as shared bank accounts, shared insurances and shared costs (such as buying a car together). It’s not a deal-breaker if you don’t have a joint account, but you would need to show that you share the costs of your life as a couple. You know, one of you spends at Coles one week, and the other at Aldi the following week. Be warned though, it’s not enough to open an account on a Monday and lodge your visa application on a Tuesday.

You’ll also need to show that you live at the same address. This might include letters, invitations, memberships and bills. You must also show social recognition of your relationship, such as photographs together and with others, social media accounts, phone or App evidence of keeping in touch if apart, and detailed statements of support from family and friends.

If you’re working with a Registered Migration Agent on your partner application, they’ll assess your relationship evidence and let you know whether or not it needs strengthening.

Here at True Blue Migration Services, we’re proud to have a 100% success rate with partner visas. We also offer a no visa, no fee guarantee for your peace of mind. This means that in the unlikely event of your application being refused, we’ll refund the fee you paid for our services.

Given we’ve been in the migration business for 11 years and managed more than 800 partner cases you can rest assured that we know what we’re doing.

The Government’s partner visa application fees are no joke. It’s worth your while seeking professional guidance before lodging. We regularly meet couples who believe they meet the criteria and don’t, so our advice is to always check before you embark on the process.

Registering a Relationship

Registering your relationship may be an option if you live in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania or the ACT. Relationship registration means that your partnership is legally recognised. Not the same as marriage, but close enough.

Registering your relationship is essential if you’re not able to prove the full 12 months of cohabitation. Although you still need to show that you’re living together, you won’t have to evidence the entire 12 months. Even better news – you don’t need to have your relationship registration certificate ‘in hand’ on the day of your visa application. Your migration agent can upload it to your lodged application once you have it.

You can register your relationship if you’re over 18 and you’re not already married or in a de facto partnership with someone else. In Australia, same-sex couples also have the option of registering their relationship.

Each State has slightly different requirements so you’d need to review these.

Second stage of your partner visa application

Two years after you have lodged your partner visa application, you may be eligible for permanent residency. This is not automatic! You need to show Immigration that you continue to be a genuine couple. You’ll need new statutory declarations from family and friends and from each other. The refusal rate for the PR part is actually higher than for the initial partner application. Many couples overlook this step and this will only become more common, given Immigration announced that it will no longer advise people of that their two year date has been reached.

Going forward

The Government is expected to tighten partner visa requirements early next year, following on from the recent overhaul of employer-sponsored visas and citizenship applications.

It is highly likely that anyone sponsoring a partner will be required to go through an approval process before an application can be lodged. Similar to the way in which employers are required to become ‘standard business sponsors’ before nominating an employee.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has also indicated that it plans to introduce enforceable sponsorship undertakings and stricter rules regarding criminal history.

These changes could lead to longer processing times and make it difficult for anyone lodging last-minute applications. The additional ‘approval step’ could also lead to a fee increase.

If you’re planning to apply for an Australian partner visa, we recommend going ahead with it as soon as you are eligible. As we’ve experienced this year in other visa subclasses, changes generally mean more time, more expense and more complications.

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