Your Australian Partner Visa is lodged, and you are nervously awaiting the outcome, hoping that everything goes smoothly and that your Partner Visa will be granted sooner rather than later. Your application was in great shape, and you’re not expecting an Australian Partner Visa Interview….
Then your mobile phone rings.
You answer it innocently enough, and someone at the other end of the phone tells you that they are a case officer from the Department of Home Affairs, and they want to conduct an interview with you about your partner visa application.
“Oh no” you think – I know I was warned about this by my Migration Agent! I didn’t expect it to happen!
Represented by a Registered Migration Agent?
If you are represented, either by a Partner Visa Registered Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer, you can tell the case officer that you are unable to speak to them at the time, but would be perfectly prepared to answer any questions they may have, if they would make an appointment through your representative.
The case officer in this situation should agree to this and contact the person that is representing you directly to make an appointment to conduct the interview. Please note however that they are not bound to do so.
If you are not represented by a Registered Migration Agent.
Let the case officer know that you are unable to speak to them at the current time, and would they be kind enough to make an appointment for another time that is more suitable to you.
What is the purpose of a Partner Visa Interview?
The Department of Home Affairs uses interviews to determine whether a partner visa applicant and the sponsor have appropriate knowledge about each other, and each other’s circumstances. Essentially the interview is conducted to ensure that the relationship between yourself and your sponsor is genuine, and not fake, simply to get an Australian partner visa.
Are the interviews always conducted by telephone?
The interviews may be conducted by telephone or in person. The telephone interviews tend to be unannounced, and interviews in person tend to be arranged in advance. We are however aware that in some countries, Case Officers have arrived unannounced to a visa applicant’s house.
It was noted in a recent Tribunal case, that case officers arrived unannounced to a residence in India where a visa applicant resided. When the applicant was asked where he stored his shoes, he stated that they were in a cupboard upstairs. The case officer requested that the applicant show him where his shoes were – the room he had stated was in fact a child’s play room and did not contain any of the applicant’s shoes.
Are the interviews recorded or transcribed?
The short answer to that question is no, the interviews are not recorded or transcribed. What occurs is that the case officer makes a brief file note after conducting the interview, which in our experience in no way reflects the interview’s contents at all.
This can be advantageous on appeal however, when Statutory Declarations and the evidence contained within them with respect to the interview, tend to overrule a simple file note, which from an evidentiary perspective carries less weight.
Can my Partner Visa application be refused if the answers I give to the case officers are incorrect?
The case officer conducting the Partner Visa interview is specifically looking for information from yourself and your sponsor that is confirmed by one another.
A relatively common question for example is, “what side of the bed do you sleep on?”.
If you say you sleep on the right-hand side of the bed, and your sponsor says you sleep on the left-hand side of the bed, they could be an issue with genuineness of the relationship.
Recently, one of our clients was asked to describe the en-suite bathroom in the main bedroom, and his sponsor was asked the same question in a separate interview. Whilst there was no doubt that my clients were in a genuine relationship, they told me that the question was quite a stressful one, as neither of them had paid much attention to the set-up of the en suite bathroom before being asked the question.
But to answer the question, yes, Partner visa applications can be refused simply because of discrepancies in evidence provided to the case officer in an interview situation. If your visa is refused because of the interview, we strongly recommend that you seek the advice of an experienced Partner Visa Immigration Lawyer, with respect to appealing the decision.
Some of the questions can appear to be trick questions.
One of our clients, being an older sponsor with a younger husband, was asked by an overseas office, to describe all her previous relationships.
Subsequently, her husband was asked if he knew all the names of her previous boyfriends – and of course he did not. The case officer berated him for his lack of knowledge of these issues and was also appalled (expressing her opinion quite clearly) that the marriage was a “love marriage” rather than an arranged one. She was also appalled that the sponsor was much older than her husband, and notes obtained via FOI, revealed that the case officer was also not a fan of “cross-cultural” marriages.
The case officer also asked the husband why he did not enter a marriage that was arranged by his family, instead of marrying the sponsor.
In another experience with the same overseas office, which we cannot name (but it begins with New Delhi), the case officer was also confounded by a marriage between an older woman and the younger man (who is not from India), and she further expressed her disappointment that they did marry in a Hindu ceremony (the husband was Buddhist).
Things to do if the case officer is aggressive, or asking questions too quickly, or appears to be expressing cultural or other opinions.
It is extremely stressful during interviews where a case officer is either aggressive, opinionated, or apparently disdainful of cultural or other differences.
If you believe that you do not understand the question, it is very important to ask for it to be repeated or rephrased. Explain to the case officer that you do not understand the question.
When unacceptable cultural or other opinions are expressed to you by the interviewer, it is important to calmly and clearly state that his/her cultural norms or opinions do not apply to your situation, and that the evidence you have provided meets the criteria required of a partner visa application.
Where the interviews conducted in English, and English is not your first language, it may be prudent to say to the case officer that you need an interpreter or someone that speaks your language, so that you do not you misinterpret the questions.
If you feel you have been unfairly treated during an interview, or feel you are providing incorrect answers because you are being badgered or you do not understand the question, it is imperative that you contact your Registered Migration Agent immediately, and ask them to lodge a complaint together with a Statutory Declaration from yourself and your partner explaining the inconsistencies or other issues with the interview.
If you find that a question is not acceptable i.e. if you are being asked about intimate details of your relationship, it is important that you object to the question on the basis that it is not appropriate.
If you are not represented, Google “Global Feedback” and the Department of Home Affairs and make a formal complaint yourself.
“Highly recommended! Chloe and the Melbourne team are absolutely wonderful – they made my partner visa application process go smoothly with no worries at all. Any questions I had were answered with clarity and all communication was received promptly. Chloe is excellent and reliable. AHWC definitely know what they’re doing”
Despite our warnings, most interviews are okay if you are in a genuine relationship and know each other well.
Now that we’ve made you completely nervous about the partner visa interviews, rest assured that most interviews are conducted in an appropriate fashion.
What are the typical questions that may be asked in an interview?
Here is a list of some questions – but we do stress that this list is not complete, as each case officer conducting the interview will have their own set of questions and their own idiosyncrasies with respect to the way that they conduct their interviews.
- When did you meet your partner?
- What date did you meet?
- Where did you meet each other?
- What attracted you to each other?
- When did you fall in love?
- When did you start your relationship together?
- What date did you commence a de facto relationship?
- What is your partner’s date of birth? How old are they?
- Are your partner’s parents still alive? If so, how old are they? Where do they live?
- How long did you go out for before you were married?
- When did you decide to get married?
- Why did you decide to get married?
- When did you get engaged?
- Who bought the engagement ring? From where? How much did it cost? What does it look like?
- What date did you get married?
- Where did you get married?
- What was the name of the person who married you?
- What did you each wear to your wedding?
- Who attended your wedding?
- Why didn’t your mother/father/siblings/friends attend your wedding?
- What did your husband/wife give you as a wedding present?
- Who bought the wedding ring? How much did it cost?
- Where was the reception? How many people attended the reception?
- What did you eat at your wedding meal?
- Who pays the bills?
- How do you share finances?
- Who pays for what?
- How do you stay in touch?
- Where will you live when you move to Australia?
- Do you own any property in Australia?
- Is your partner on the title of any property that you own?
- Are you the beneficiaries of each other’s will/superannuation?
- Would you work when you come to Australia?
- Have you met your partner’s family? If not, why not?
- What is your partner’s mother’s name? What is your partner’s father’s name? How many siblings do they have?
- How much time has your partner spent with your family?
- Why did you and your partner decide to apply for an Australian partner visa instead of a visa in your home country?
- What is the nature of your commitment to each other?
- How do you share the household tasks?
- Who does the cooking? Who cooked last?
- Why do you believe you are in a genuine relationship?
Your De facto Relationship
- How long have you and your partner lived together?
- Have you and your partner lived apart during the last 12 months? If so, give details.
- What addresses have you and your partner lived in?
Questions about Your Partner
- What is your partner’s date of birth?
- What is your partner’s current address?
- Where was your partner born?
- What is your partner’s occupation? What are the qualifications? Where did they study?
- Where does your partner work? What is their position? What hours do they work?
- How much does your partner earn?
- How do they travel to work?
- What is the favourite colour? (Seriously, this was asked of one of our clients!)
- What size shoes does your partner wear?
- What are your partner’s hobbies?
- What are your partner’s parents’ names?
- What is your partner’s nickname? What do you call your partner?
- What are the names of your partner’s siblings? Where do they live? What do they do for a living?
- What are the name(s) of any previous boyfriends/girlfriends of your partner?
- Does your partner have any children? If so, where are they?
- Have you always been in same-sex relationships?
- How many times have you visited each other? When was the last time?
- Have you travelled together on holidays? If so where? If so what dates? Who purchased the tickets? Which airline did you travel with?
- When you visit each other what you do together?
- Have you registered your relationship? If so where? If so on what date?
If you live together.
- Do you share your home with any others? If so why?
- Describe the house that you live in. Describe the bathroom. Describe the kitchen. Describe your bedroom.
- Where does your partner keep his/her socks? (Could be anything including underpants ties shoes et cetera)
- What side of the bed does your partner sleep on?
- Do you intend to have children? If not, why not?
- Are you religious? If so, do you practice your religion together?
- If you practice different religions, what religion will your children be?
- Do you have any pets?
- Have you and your partner made any major financial purchases/investments/property purchases together?
- Do you share lease? If so, what date did the lease begin?
- When did you last go to the movies/a show/other event with your partner (if movies or a show, what show/movies did you see)?
- Why do you consider relationship a genuine relationship? Why is it spouse like? Why is it a proper de facto relationship?
If an interview is conducted in person
A case officer may ask:
- To identify photographs or people in photographs.
- If you can provide Statutory Declarations from your parents or your partner’s parents in support of the relationship. (If in Australia this is often taken care of by having your parent complete a Form 888)
- To identify other pieces of evidence they consider to be relevant, e.g. the person who assigned your Form 888’s.
- What will you do if this visa application is refused? (We think they do this to make you even more nervous).
We cannot guarantee that this is a complete list of the questions you may be asked, but it’s a very good start in our view in getting prepared for your interview – or even to assist you to be prepared if the telephone rings and there is a case officer on the other end unannounced.
If you need help with your Partner Visa, or would like to be represented by a Registered Migration Agent experienced in Australia Partner Visas, contact us today on +61 3 9573 5200 or book a Partner Visa consultation online.
We would love to talk to you and assist you with your application – and keep in mind that we offer a No Visa, No Fee Guarantee for most partner visa applications.
We can also assist in directing you to independent providers of loans or payment plans, to assist with the expense of it.