Australian Partner Visas and the Road to Residency: Part 1

16 Oct

Now that H and I are married, it’s time to think about going through all the necessary drudgery for me to become a permanent resident so that I can stay here with him. While Australia’s partner visa process is a lot easier than America’s, it’s still a heck of a lot of work and bureaucracy.

The partner visas are subclass 820 (temporary visa) and subclass 801 (permanent visa). You can apply for both of them together and there is usually a two year waiting period between when you get your 820 and when you can get your 801.

The first thing you have to do is fill out the appropriate forms. In our case, we need to fill out Form 47SP, which is the application for migration by a partner, Form 40SP, which is the sponsorship for a partner to migrate to Australia, and Form 80, which is your personal particulars for the character assessment.

These are massive forms. In these forms, you will become intimately familiar with yours and your partner’s passport numbers, as well as the birth dates of all your immediate family members. You will need to be able to say exactly where you went to school and exactly what dates, exactly where you worked, what you did there, and the dates you held those positions (since leaving school), every address you have lived at for the past ten years and precisely what dates, and every country you have ever traveled to and the exact dates of your arrivals and departures. (Bet you never thought all those passport stamps would come in handy, didja?)

And yes, the rumours are true that Australia can and will deny your application purely on character grounds. It’s right there in the paperwork. Frankly, I find this the most concerning part of the application, as it could presumably be used to exclude people even on political grounds, which I find a bit hypocritical of a country that also makes you sign a values statement in which you declare your undying love and support for freedom and democracy. But mainly it’s used to keep out criminals.

In addition to these three forms, you also need to get at least two statutory declarations, Form 888, from Australian citizens or permanent residents who know both you and your partner and will vouch for the fact that your relationship is genuine (i.e. not a sham marriage). If you’re like me, you might not know that many Aussies very well and might have difficulty finding people who can vouch for you. You can also submit forms or even just unofficial letters from anybody who is willing to vouch for you, even your family and friends overseas, and they are obliged to at least look at it and consider it.

You and your partner will also both need to provide evidence of a continuing relationship, which includes, but isn’t limited to photos, emails, and other tokens of your relationship history, as well as individual essays detailing the history and nature of your relationship, like how you met, when you decided to make a commitment to each other, how you distribute household chores and finances, etc. Some of this can feel a bit invasive and it is, but I guess you just have to get over that if you want to apply for a partner visa. Here is a good article that talks about the sorts of things you need to include to prove your relationship is genuine.

The other night, H was finishing his essay up, which he had been working hard on for several days. Since I finished mine in one evening, I couldn’t imagine what was taking him so long. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: So how’s it coming? What part are you up to?
H: I’m uh… it’s fine. I’m just revising the part about when we fell in love.
Me: Can I read it at some point?
H: No. It’s private.
Me: So you’re going to show it to the lawyer and hundreds of government officials? But not your wife?
H: That’s right.

I still haven’t seen it and I wonder what he is saying about me!

You’ll also need to get a health check. In Australia, I think it costs about $300 unless they ask you to get tested for a bunch of extra stuff. Mainly they just want to be sure you don’t have tuberculosis or HIV or are in general any kind of threat to public health or a burden on the healthcare system. I don’t really understand that myself. If they’ll let people come in on a visitor visa without a health check, then what’s the big deal about making sure they’re free of diseases later? I mean, for all they know, I could be spreading SARS around left and right and no one has ever bothered yet to see if I’m healthy or not. A friend of H’s, who immigrated many years ago back in the 70s when she was 16, said that when her family came over from Britain, not only did they have to have a physical health check, but also a mental health check and all of her family had to undergo psychiatric evaluations. So far, no one has told me I need to get a psych eval, so I don’t think they do it anymore.

And of course, you have to get your police checks. You have to get them from every country you’ve lived in for 12 months or more. Now pay attention because this part is important: DON’T PROCRASTINATE. If you’re an American, you’ll need to get a police check from the FBI and your home state. A lot of times, the state police won’t even know what the heck you’re asking about. The FBI knows how it’s done, but their turnaround time is a good four weeks. Additionally, you need to submit your fingerprints to them on their special fingerprint form. Here in Melbourne, there is only one central police station that does fingerprinting and you have to make an appointment. The earliest appointment I could get is for two months from now. They are ALWAYS booked up 2-3 months in advance. So don’t leave it until the last minute. In fact, make it one of the first things you do.

Plus, don’t forget to have certified copies made of all your essential documents, like birth and marriage certificates, etc. You also have to four passport sized photos, which you can get taken for a small fee just about anywhere.

Now, I’m told that you can submit an incomplete application if you are stuck waiting on some documents (like in my case, the results of the police checks) and then you can get your bridging visa while you wait on them to process your application. I haven’t personally tested this yet to see if it is true or not, though, so I’ll have to get back to you on the particulars of that.

And now for the hundred thousand dollar question… literally. How much does all this cost? Well, it costs a lot, so you better start saving your pennies. If you lodge outside of Australia, you’re looking at $2060. If you lodge in Australia, it’s $3060. (That’s for a partner visa, not a fiance visa.) Your processing time is likely going to be slightly quicker lodging from within Australia than without (though I’m told six to eight months is typical regardless) and in many cases, you might even be required to lodge an offshore application. It really depends on your circumstances. And if you use a migration agent (a.k.a. a lawyer), expect your costs to at least double, if not triple.

Some people have such simple, straightforward applications that using a migration agent isn’t really necessary, so I’m by no means advocating that you need to have one. We decided to use one because I have a few oddities in my background and circumstances and we decided we’d rather play it safe than risk making any mistakes on the application, but I do know of plenty of people who lodged their partner applications without any help and had no trouble at all.

For Part 2, click here.

For Part 3, click here.

For Part 4, click here.

*Disclaimer: None of this is legal advice. If you have questions about your own visa application, you really should talk to a licensed migration expert. I’m not an expert. This post pertains solely to my experiences and circumstances- yours will probably be different.*

13 Responses to “Australian Partner Visas and the Road to Residency: Part 1”

  1. Cosette October 16, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience with this. I’ll be dealing with this in a few months and am really not looking forward to it, but it’s good to hear a first hand account and what to expect.

    • housewifedownunder October 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

      You’re very welcome! It’s definitely a good idea to get started on as much of it as you can as early as you can. I was really angry that my lawyer who is charging us a small fortune didn’t bother to mention simple things like how long it would take to get fingerprinting done here! Grr!

  2. Sixtine and The Little Things October 17, 2012 at 1:45 am #

    I wish you good luck! I went through the exact same thing with my husband (immigrated from France to Canada) under Family class and it was a pain in the butt. I was very stressed and couldn’t believe how much information they wanted from us. I even sent collages of our trips, wedding and such…I mean, seriously? Anyway, it took a little less than a year. I am now a proud Permanent Resident of Canada and it was all worth it in the end. Hang in there, it will happen! x

    • housewifedownunder October 17, 2012 at 9:47 am #

      Thank you! It is quite stressful. My current visa is actually about to run out, so I’ve been really worried that I might to leave the country for a while if we can’t get things moving along quickly. I did once try to sponsor a previous partner to come to America and their regulations are so strict that it proved impossible for us, especially being on a low income. So anytime I feel annoyed by the Australian process, I just remember that and remind myself that I’m lucky it’s easier here than in America.

      • Sixtine and The Little Things October 23, 2012 at 12:39 am #

        Just wondering…when I applied for PR, I was able to request a tourist visa and mentioned that I was applying for PR. I was able to stay the entire time…do you think it would work for you?

  3. alifeworthknowing October 22, 2012 at 7:03 am #

    i went through all of this over the winter in nz, the police checks, the physical, the application, the letters etc and it was so overwhelming. i spent many evenings in tears worried sick that i wouldn’t get it. i eventually got mine, but they only granted me six months due to a lack of evidence. so i have to reapply in january which was devastating, but hopefully after that, i’ll get my residency. it’s just such an arduous process!

    • housewifedownunder October 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

      That’s terrible! I haven’t broke down in tears yet because so far no one has told me anything definitive that would give me reason not to remain optimistic. But the second anyone tells me I might not be able to stay, then all optimism goes out the window.

  4. akroezen October 25, 2012 at 3:46 am #

    I have to say that after getting my Husband’s green card in America, my Aussie residency was a piece of cake!! I’m now a permanent resident – whichever number comes after the first one, and I’ve been granted that without even living there. It is daunting, but it is a hell of a lot easier and FAR cheaper than the mess we’ve had to go through with the American gov’t. In June he’ll be able to get his citizenship here in the States so we can then go back to Oz and not have to deal with any of it anymore. I actually never had any worries that it wouldn’t be granted…I wouldn’t be too concerned. If you are truly married, not a criminal, and not a threat to the healthcare system, you are good. Australia lets anyone in the country – not always a positive. Good luck with it, and don’t stress too much!

  5. Darko August 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    Hi sorry for my English writing , can you please answer me , if you are on bvc criteria 3 how long you need to wait before immigration contact you , because I’m waiting 2,5 years , no answer no call no letter not to me and not to my lawyer , thank you

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Australian Partner Visas and the Road to Residency: Part 2 « Housewife Down Under - November 21, 2012

    […] For Part 1, click here. […]

  2. Australian Partner Visas and the Road to Residency: Part 3 « Housewife Down Under - December 17, 2012

    […] Part 1, click here.For Part 2, click […]

  3. Australian Partner Visas and the Road to Residency: Part 4 | Housewife Down Under - March 24, 2013

    […] For Part 1, click here. […]

  4. Australian Partner Visas and the Road to Residency: Part 5 | Housewife Down Under - April 11, 2013

    […] For Part 1, click here. […]

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