No one wants to be interviewed by a case officer about the ins and outs of their relationship. Unfortunately, however, it’s something that commonly happens as part of the Australian partner visa application process.
Imagine this: you’re sitting at home, or maybe at work, and the phone rings; the person on the line introduces themselves as a case officer from the Department of Home Affairs and they have a whole heap of questions they want to ask you in relation to your application. What should you expect?
Why are you being interviewed?
Firstly, don’t panic. It doesn’t mean there’s a problem with your application. It’s fairly common for Case officers to make contact and ask you a few questions to assist them in the decision-making process.
Case officers have a job to do, which is to establish whether you are indeed in a genuine relationship. This is simply part of the process.
Can your Registered Migration Agent help?
If your partner application has been lodged by a Registered Migration Agent and you want to speak with them before answering any questions, let the Case Officer know this and ask them to contact your representative and arrange the interview that way. They’ll hopefully agree to this; however, they don’t have to.
If, for whatever reason, you can’t be interviewed at that moment in time, simply as the case officer if it’s possible to reschedule for a more convenient time.
Phone interview or face-to-face?
Many partner visa interviews are done over the phone, but not all. Sometimes a case officer may conduct an interview face-to-face. They might even turn up unannounced at your home and ask to look in your wardrobe!
They can ask you questions, as well as your sponsor.
Can an application be refused because of the interview?
Yes. The case officer must establish whether you’re in a genuine relationship, based on your application and – if you’re interviewed – your responses to their questions.
If they don’t believe your answers line up, they can of course refuse the application.
Should your partner visa application be refused, you’ll be able to appeal the decision in most cases.
What questions will they ask?
They can ask you pretty much anything they want, as long as it’s appropriate.
The case officer might ask you to describe things about your partner or enquire as to which side of the bed you sleep on and see if that matches with the answers your sponsor provides.
Broadly speaking, questions are likely to focus on how you met, the nature of your relationship, your household circumstances, family, financial commitments and your future plans.
- Where and when did you meet?
- When did your relationship commence?
- What do you love about your partner?
- How are your bills paid?
- How do you stay in contact when you’re apart?
- Have you seen a lot of your partner’s family?
- Why did you decide to get married?
- What was the name of the church and wedding venue?
- Did your family attend the wedding?
- How long have you lived together?
- Tell us about your partner’s job?
- How much does your partner earn?
- Does your partner ever do overtime at work?
- Did your partner attend university? Where?
- What are your partner’s parents called?
- Where do your partner’s parents live?
- Describe your bedroom?
- What colour are your curtains or blinds?
- Do you have any joint financial commitments?
- What will you do if your partner visa is refused?
- What do your partner’s siblings work as?
- Why did you decide to live in Australia and not your partner’s home country?
- Do you and your partner share any pets?
The possibilities are endless, but hopefully this gives you some idea of what to expect. If you think a question is inappropriate or too intimate, you can tell the interviewer that you’re not comfortable answering it.
It’s totally normal to be nervous and suffer a mental block during questioning, but if you’re in a genuine relationship, it should come across to the case officer. Just relax and do your best.
Phone interviews are not usually recorded, but the case officers will make notes for your case file.
If you’re interview is conducted fact-to-face, you might be asked to identify people in photographs, such as your partner’s friends and family members. Or you might be asked about the people who completed your 888 forms for you.
If you don’t understand a question
It’s important to avoid answering any questions you don’t understand. Maybe English isn’t your first language or perhaps the case officer hasn’t phrased a question clearly enough. These things happen.
If you require further clarification on a question, ask the case officer to repeat the question, rephrase the question or explain more clearly what he/she means. This is perfectly acceptable.
Partner visas are a major investment. The Government fee for an 820/801 visa, for example, is over $7,000 and the wait time is significant. It’s very important to take care over your application and ensure that you’re fully prepared before lodging.