How would you feel if your Australian Partner visa application was refused? On top of time lost waiting in the processing queue (12 to 15 months at the time of writing), gathering evidence, filling forms, researching etc., it would have cost at least $7,000 AUD. And the worst part of a refusal is you have nothing to show for it! Not a good day in anyone’s book.
If the application is lodged in Australia, you may be able to lodge an appeal in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and you may be able to get the decision overturned. But, you’ll also need to factor in the additional cost of an appeal. Plus, even if you win the appeal you’ll only get 50% of the cost back. And let’s hope you don’t mind queues, because guess what – you’ll be placed in a waiting queue again! Besides the possibility of winning the appeal, do you really want to go through all this trouble? That’s why it’s crucial to get your Australia Partner visa application right the first time.
Our expertise in Australian partner visa applications stems back nearly 10 years, and in that time, we’ve processed hundreds of partner visa applications only to see the same mistakes being made over and over. It’s likely one of the reasons people hire a registered migration agent to assist with this legal process, but for anyone brave enough to prepare the application themselves, we’ve outlined a list containing some of the more common mistakes found in the applications we process.
If you need a little helping hand with your partner visa application, you might be interested in our partner visa kits.
1. Inconsistent dates
An Australian onshore/offshore partner visa application should include the following three documents:
- Form 47SP – application form for the visa applicant
- Form 40SP – application form for the visa applicant’s sponsor
- Form 80 – the visa applicant’s character assessment
The forms listed above include similar questions relating to your relationship, address and travel history.
When a case officer is presented with your application, you need to ensure for example that the sections regarding Relationship details, Address history, and Travel history all match up.
Suppose for a moment that you are the processing case officer. How would you make sense of conflicting relationship commencement dates? If a couple is in a committed relationship, you would expect both parties to have agreed a date upon which their relationship commenced.
Don’t leave little details like this to chance! Tiny mistakes like this could raise flags about your ongoing relationship.
2. Conflicting evidence of cohabitation
We always recommend to our clients to keep adding evidence while the application in the processing queue. It’s a perfect opportunity to prove to the case officer that your relationship is genuine and ongoing.
However, due to the current processing times of all Australian partner visa applicants, it is quite likely that personal information (such as residential address) will change while the application is in the processing queue.
What does this mean in terms of cohabitation evidence? If your address details change, both the applicant and the sponsor should update their address immediately to be able to prove their ongoing relationship.
If one person forgets to update their contact details, the assessing case officer could assume the relationship has broken down. Again, a simple detail like this could cost you your application.
Essentially, you need to sidestep the possibility of the assessing case officer finding any reason to doubt that you are in a committed relationship.
3. Form 888 – the applicant and the sponsor
Form 888 is another piece of the puzzle where errors often occur. This document is used by both the applicant and the sponsor to provide supporting evidence from friends and family members.
If you rely on information from a person who comes from a background other than English, you need to make it clear who the sponsor is and who the applicant is as this could be easily mistaken.
It is also vitally important to thoroughly check documents completed by third parties as they may contain conflicting information.
You will need to cross-reference any information provided by persons completing the Form 888 to ensure your application is coherent.
For example, if one witness statement says the sponsor and applicant met whilst travelling, and another statement says you met at work, you have a problem. All the evidence provided must match up, including evidence in the witness statements. We cannot stress enough how important it is to make your application water tight to avoid a negative outcome.
4. Insufficient, incomplete or irrelevant evidence
Have you ever heard the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove”? When preparing your relationship evidence, you need to keep in mind the relevance and completeness of the evidence used in your application.
For every piece of evidence you include in your Partner visa application, we recommend you ask the following questions:
- Is it relevant to my application?
- Does it prove I am in a relationship with my partner?
- Does this piece of evidence match up with the rest of my application?
If the answer to all three of the questions above is yes, then it’s likely to be a good piece of evidence to include in your application. If not, you probably shouldn’t include it in your application.
A common mistake is to add as much information as possible, but this won’t work. The information you do provide must be relevant and must prove that you are in a serious relationship.
5. Missing document certification
A lot of people seem to forget that lodging an Australian visa application, and dealing with the Department of Immigration means following a legal process.
Certain pieces of information will need to be certified or notarised to be deemed true copies of the original document.
The following list of documents should be certified or notarised:
- ID documents
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Copies of original documents (optional but good practice to do it anyway)
When having your documents certified, make sure the certifier states something along the lines of:
I certify that this is a true copy of the original document produced to me on [insert date]
In Australia you can get your documents certified by a the following persons:
- Academic (post-secondary institution)
- Australian Consular Officer
- Australian Diplomatic Officer
- Bank Manager
- Chartered secretary
- Company auditor or liquidator
- Court officer (Judge, master, magistrate, registrar or clerk)
- Defence Force officer (Commissioned, Warrant or NCO with 5 years continuous service)
- Industrial organisation secretary
- Insurance broker
- Justice of the Peace
- Local government CEO or deputy CEO
- Local government councillor
- Loss adjuster
- Marriage Celebrant
- Member of Parliament (State or Commonwealth)
- Minister of religion
- Patent Attorney
- Police officer
- Post Office manager
- Public Servant (State or Commonwealth)
- Public Notary
- Real Estate agent
- Settlement agent
- Sheriff or deputy Sheriff
- Tribunal Officer
- Veterinary surgeon
In 2016 we noticed a very dramatic change in the culture at the Department of Immigration. It really seems like they will try to find any reason to refuse a visa – including something as simple as loose terminology.
When writing your relationship history statements there are a few things you need to be extremely careful about. You need to remember that you are trying to prove that you are in a committed relationship. Anything that is written in your statement could have a negative impact.
You must, at all cost, avoid terms such as “boyfriend”, “girlfriend”, “dating” etc. Words like this could be used to deem your relationship not serious. Instead you should reinforce the legitimacy of your relationship by use words such as “partner”, “relationship”, “commitment”, “dedicated” etc.
For example, do not say “My boyfriend and I went travelling together”. Instead rephrase it as “My partner and I went travelling together”.
The best approach to ensuring a positive outcome is to be incredibly pedantic about the entire application. Examine every piece of evidence closely. Cross-reference your personal statements, your witness statement and the included forms. Make sure there is no conflicting information and make sure that everything matches up.
It’s better to be safe rather than sorry. Good luck!