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Now What? Moving Forward With Your Partner Visa Post COVID-19

07 May

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We know what a spanner in the works this 2020 pandemic has been so far. With border closures, lockdowns, shutdowns, redundancies and school closures, it’s been a hard one for many.

Many couples have been forced apart (or together) due to these measures and the questions about Australian immigration have been rife amongst current and future migrants.

But now you can rekindle your dreams of living together permanently in Australia. (There’s light at the end of the tunnel!)

Australia has successfully managed to flatten the curve and things are looking very promising moving forward. Whilst we aren’t fully out of the woods, we can now begin to think about the future and work towards those common goals once again.

Moving to Australia is still achievable and those with partners here still have the opportunity to call Australia home.

There are so many advantages in lodging an Australian Partner Visa. There’s no employer to worry about (as with the Employer Nominated visas), no English requirements, no skills assessment and no age limits, just to mention a few. All you have to do is love! (And that’s too easy!).

Another advantage of lodging a Partner Visa application (onshore that is), is that any bridging visa that is issued to you, has unlimited work rights, even if your last visa did not have any.

If you’ve found the one and you are looking to lodge your Australian partner visa in the future, now is the time to start looking carefully at what you will need to consider.

Costs

Unfortunately, the price of partner visas is a little eye watering. The price of partner visa (both onshore and offshore) for the 2019/2020 year currently sits at $7,715 AUD. This is a non-refundable application fee which generally increases every year ‪on July 1st.‬

Even though this sounds like a lot of money, there are no extras to consider, such as Skills Assessments or English tests, which bring the cost of any skilled visa up to more than the cost of a Partner visa in most cases.

If you choose to use a migration agent or immigration lawyer, you will incur their fees on top of this but balance that out with piece of mind, confidence in having your visa granted and time saving you will have when you use an expert.

No hassle, stress or drama.

Some migration consultants (including ourselves) are able to help with financing options. We also offer a no visa no fee guarantee here at AHWC that can help you to feel more secure in moving forward.

If you choose to do it on your own, make sure your knowledge and finances are in order prior to lodging the application. You cannot lodge without having paid the fees upfront. Be aware, if you don’t do proper research into the intricacies of partner visa applications, it can be refused.

Partner Visa processing times

Every year thousands of couples lodge partner visas in Australia and play the waiting game. Last year, around 40,000 partner visas were granted and another 80,000 were processing.

Processing times are currently estimated at anywhere between 13-21 months for an offshore application, and 24 to 29 months for an application lodged in Australia.

In this type of situation, it pays to be informed and prepared (literally, since that $8,000 application fee is not refundable or transferrable if you have to lodge again).

How to prepare

When the Department of Home Affairs assesses a partner visa application, they are making a judgement on whether they believe the relationship to be genuine and ongoing, with you both in a mutually exclusive long-term commitment. It is your job to show them that that is the case.

You must be married or in a de facto relationship.

In order to meet the criteria, you must firstly show that you are either legally married, or in a de facto relationship at the time you lodge the partner visa application. Being in a de facto relationship means that you must have lived together for at least 12 months – or if you have registered your relationship with a state government (please note that you are only able to register your relationship in NSW, Victoria, QLD, ACT, South Australia or Tasmania)

If you cannot prove that you’re in a married or in a de facto relationship, your partner visa application will not be successful.

Keep in mind that simply being married or registering your relationship is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the Migration Act and Regulations.

The “Four Pillars” of the relationship.

The Department will consider the following 4 criteria when assessing whether your relationship is genuine, and you should provide as much evidence as possible addressing each of these:

• Financial – do you share joint financial responsibility?
• Cohabitation – do you live together, or not permanently apart?
• Social – what are the social aspects of your relationship like? do you have mutual friends and have you met each others’ family?
• Nature of the commitment – are you and your partner committed to a long term relationship?

Don’t forget your visa expiry date!

You will also need to factor in any visa expiry dates when considering when you should lodge your application – will your visa expire before you are able to live together for at least 12 months?

If so, what will you do?

If you are offshore:

Particularly during this time and the limited abilities you may have to see each other in person, now more than ever it is imperative you show evidence of continuous contact in different forms (phone calls, Skype, texting etc).

You can still satisfy the above criteria by demonstrating that you maintain your relationship even if you aren’t able to physically be with each other. This could even include evidence of contact with each others’ family and friends over Zoom or Skype.

You need to look at it as if a stranger is assessing your case and doesn’t believe you are together, you need to do all you can to convince them without a doubt.

Tip: Your case officer cannot read your mind!

Did you know?

If you apply for an offshore (Subclass 309) Partner Visa – and you hold another Australian Visa at the time of lodgement, you are entitled to a Bridging Visa A with full work rights if you travel to Australia after you have lodged your visa. (It’s tricky, but we done it on many occasions). This means that you will be able to stay in Australia and wait here until you visa is ready to be granted. (You will need to travel offshore to have the visa granted though).

Want to know where you stand?

If you want to know where you realistically stand with the current evidence you have, it is best you book a consultation with a migration agent.

A friendly and expert migration consultant will be able to tell you if your application has strength as it stands or if there is more that you need to be doing. You can then go away and think about the possibilities, and whether you would like to take advantage of our services and our No Visa No Fee Guarantee (and our payment options).

We’re here to help you.

If you need any help or advice, book a consultation with us here.

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