Here are seven little-known facts about partner visas.
Did you know that you can lodge an offshore spouse visa before you marry?
It’s true. Although an onshore spouse visa required a couple to be married at the time of application, the migration law is different for offshore cases. It may be possible for you to lodge an offshore spouse visa before you are married to your partner. You would need marry offshore before a decision is made on the application. It you meet the requirements this may allow you to bypass the prospective marriage step, hastening the journey to permanent residency and saving you money in the process.
Did you know that you may be able to waive the 12-month cohabitation requirement?
If you are not married to each other and you want to lodge a partner visa, you have to live together for 12 months, right? Not necessarily. If you’re lodging your partner visa in Australia, and you two are able to register your relationship in a state or territory that allows registration for visa purposes, then you can lodge a partner visa application without having lived together for the 12 months immediately before lodging the partner visa.
You do need to be living together when your partner visa application is lodged and remain living together during the processing time. Several states and territories allow registration, and each one has different requirements. In most cases, you need to show at least one of you is usually resident in that state or territory.
The evidence of residency varies and may include one or more of the following: Driver licence, superannuation fund statement, lease agreement, utility account, tax office assessment, vehicle or home insurance policy, paid TV account or electoral enrolment.
Regardless of the state or territory, relationship registration has one thing in common – neither of you can be married to someone else (even if separated for many years). You must be unmarried or divorced. You do not need to have the relationship registration certificate in hand on the day you lodge your partner visa, as it can be added to your pending application. It must be added before your visa is decided. Additionally, you do not need to remain living in the state in which you registered, should you and your partner wish to move elsewhere. Please be aware that some states allow couples to register their relationship BUT it is not recognised for visa purposes.
Did you know that you can only attach a finite number of documents to a partner visa application?
You will hear chatter on forums about the importance of showing Immigration a range of documents to support your relationship. We could not agree more – but you must be smart about what documents you provide, how many you provide and how they fit into Immigration’s different evidence categories. If you attach a dozen photos, 10 social media snippets, half a dozen travel-related documents and four invitations to events, you’re only showing social evidence – and you’re rapidly using up your allowable attachments. You cannot remove attached evidence from a partner visa application.
Did you know that you can still lodge a de facto visa, even if you are legally married (but separated) to someone else?
Although you cannot register your relationship in this circumstance, if you have 12 months evidence of living together, you can lodge an onshore or offshore de facto visa, even if one or both of you are still married to another person.
Did you know that you can add a dependent child during the processing time (change from non-migrating to migrating)?
If you have dependent children, it can be a difficult decision whether to include them in your partner visa application at the time of lodging. If they are a crucial stage of schooling, it may be better to include them and non-migrating dependents. The good news is that if you decide during the processing time that you would like to include them, this is possible. They can be changed to migrating dependents by entering Australia and being added to the application.
Did you know that your visa can be refused if you do not continue to update relationship evidence during the processing time?
Immigration needs to be convinced that you two are a genuine and ongoing couple. It isn’t enough to think ‘we are a real couple, so we will get the visa granted’. Immigration receives thousands of partner applications every month, and it’s up to you to show them that your relationship is genuine.
It is quite common for couples who lodge their own partner visas to provide evidence initially but then drop off and forget to continue to provided updates – life gets in the way. It’s crucial that the ongoing nature of the commitment is shown, across each of the financial, social, cohabitation and dependence criteria that the application is assessed against.
If you have a joint bank account but it’s not being used, this may be a red flag to Immigration. If you have failed to update your home address on official documentation, it may indicate you are not living together as a genuine couple. Given the cost of the partner visa and the processing times, this is not a process you want to go through twice!
Did you know that a culturally arranged marriage can meet Australian visa requirements?
If you have married an Australian in a culturally arranged marriage, lodging a spouse visa can be daunting. Unlike relationships in other cultures, the time between first meeting in person and getting married is usually short (sometimes a few days) so you cannot show a history and evidence of a life shared as a couple.
However, Australian Immigration is sensitive to cultural traditions and a carefully-prepared application can meet the requirements. You will need to show how initial matching and contact was made, financial sharing, social evidence and family support documentation. As arranged marriage spouses are often apart during the spouse visa processing time, you’ll also need to show how you keep in contact and how you’re planning your life together.
Did you know, True Blue Migration Services offers a no visa, no fee guarantee on all partner visa applications and has a 100% success rate. Contact us today for a free consultation. You can also check out our handy guide to proving a de facto relationship.