I remember when our partner visa was granted. It was a Prospective Marriage Visa, actually. Mila was in Hong Kong. She was supposed to give a months notice to her employer, otherwise she would have to sacrifice a months pay. Guess what? She sacrificed a months pay, and was on the plane literally the next day. We wanted to be together! This is what we’d been dreaming of.
And when Mila arrived in Australia, we got onto organizing our wedding ASAP and got on with life as a married couple. I was her top priority, and she was mine. Also our family right there in Australia (ie my two sons), and Remy when she arrived later on a 445 Dependent Child Visa.
Partner visas. Other priorities.
There are some BLOG articles which can be a bit difficult to write, because of the risk of offending someone and getting offended-emails sent to me. I hope this won’t be one of them. I make no judgements of anybody’s relationships, however the Department WILL most certainly judge your relationships and that, my friends, is my point! I’m not a Romance Consultant, but I AM a Migration Agent. That means I’m the chap in between you and the Department, and it’s my job to present the best possible case that will make them utterly convinced that you meet the Regulations for a partner visa.
So please curb any offended feelings. I’m on your side, and that means telling the truth.
As above, Mila was in a hurry to get to Australia to be with me, and it was 2 ½ years before she went back to the Philippines. And that time was with me and my two sons.
Now, if you compare that with a visa applicant who:
- Delays coming to Australia the first time (may even miss the “must enter by” date)
- Wants to keep returning to the Philippines, because she misses her family
- May even spend more of the initial 9 months of a Prospective Marriage Visa inside the Philippines than in Australia with her fiancé or husband (or may do something similar whilst waiting for an 820 Partner Visa)
How do you think this looks to the Case Officer whose job it is to assess the worth of your relationship? Again, not making any personal judgments here or saying “my wife is better than your wife” (regardless of how magnificent she is), but I’m telling you that it may very well look like her heart is elsewhere!
Judge our relationship? How dare they?
How dare they? Do they have a right? Yes. Yes, ‘fraid they do. A little document called the Australian Constitution gives the Federal Government the right to decide who comes to Australia and who doesn’t, and that means the Government appoints staff who act for the Minister to make decisions on whether your wife, spouse or fiancée is a person that Australia wants or not. Like it or not? Yes, they may do just that.
There are review processes in place if you don’t like the decision, but of course they take time and cost money. Take a partner visa refusal to the AAT (Administrative Affairs Tribunal) and you will wait around one year before it’s heard. It will cost you $1,731.00. Take it to the Federal Court or the High Court and it will cost you tens of thousands.
Now, the Migration Act (Cth) 1958 contain a definition of “Spouse”, which contains the following words:
(b) they have a mutual commitment to a shared life as a married couple to the exclusion of all others; and
(c) the relationship between them is genuine and continuing;
It also says
(i) live together; or
(ii) do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis.
The Department’s own Procedures Advice Manual (PAM3) breaks that down even further. The Department staff use this to decide if an applicant and sponsor are in a relationship that is genuine and continuing, and if such a commitment to a shared life as a married couple exists.
They also get to decide if you are in fact living together, and not apart on a permanent basis. So the onus is on you to show that you are only apart through necessity, and convince them you have the full intention of living together permanently. Not so easy if it appears one or both of you are putting off being together, or that one or both of you would rather be somewhere else.
You can argue points about whether you are committed despite time spent apart, or whether should have joint bank accounts or other factors with me. And I mean that rhetorically. I’m not encouraging you to vent your frustration at me, and would actually prefer if you didn’t! You may think you have enough proof, or may think they have no right to look at your private communication and may stand on your moral high ground. Yet despite the best of arguments, they can and will still refuse your visa application and they have every legal right to do so.
So much like how you wear a suit and tie when you’re up before the judge, and may detest calling him “Your Honour”, you do so because here sits the chap who can toss you in the slammer. And your visa application, your paperwork and the decisions you make about traveling back and forth will all be used by the “judges” in the Department when making some pretty critical decisions which will effect the rest of your lives. So do all you can to present the most picture-perfect case that you can, and please follow our advice. We are from Down Under Visa, and we’re here to help you!