Increase in Partner Visa Application Charges – Affecting Those Lodging Applications Outside Australia

Following today’s Federal Budget we have been notified of an increase in the Department of Immigration’s Visa Application Charges affecting those who lodge a Partner visa application outside Australia after the end of June 2015.

At present for offshore partner visa applications the VAC payable by the main applicant is A$4,630.

For applications lodged on or after the 1st of July, 2015 the VAC increases to A$6,865, to bring the VAC into line with the VAC payable by onshore partner visa applicants.

This is clearly a significant increase in A$ and percentage terms for intending offshore partner visa applicants.

It should be remembered that while it is desirable to have all supporting documentation to hand when lodging a visa application a valid partner visa application does not require this documentation to be to hand at that time.

If you are intending to apply for a partner visa outside Australia and are comfortable you will have documentation to validate your relationship in the near future we recommend not delaying the submission of your application while the documentation becomes available if you want to save yourself over A$2,200.

Go Matilda Visas has many years of experience preparing and managing partner visa applications.

We will be pleased to have a no obligation discussion with you regarding an intended partner visa application, how we can help, and our fees.

We are pleased to offer a no interest fees by instalment plan to all who we assist with a partner visa application.

Complete the enquiry form on the right hand side of this page, and we will be delighted to have a no obligation initial discussion with you.

De Facto Couples and Registering Your Relationship: The Exemption from 12 Months Co-Habitation

If you are in a relationship with an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen you might be eligible to be sponsored for a partner visa.

Being married to your sponsor means you should be eligible to apply for a partner visa. But you do not have to be married to be eligible – you can be in what is called a “de facto relationship.”

The general rule is that the de facto relationship must have existed for at least 12 months immediately before you apply for a partner visa.

Note: Time spent dating does not count towards the length of a de facto relationship.

For migration purposes, a person is in a de facto relationship with another person if they:

> are not married to each other
> have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others
> are in a genuine and continuing relationship
> live together or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis
> are not related by family.

Importantly for those who have not been in a relationship for at least 12 months, one circumstance in which the one year relationship requirement does not apply is where the relationship is registered under a law of a State or Territory prescribed in the Acts Interpretation (Registered Relationships) Regulations 2008 as a kind of relationship prescribed in those regulations.

Relationships can presently be registered in the following:

> Queensland

> Victoria

> New South Wales

> Tasmania

> The ACT

For several of the above the only requirement is that one of the partners in the relationship needs to reside in the State or Territory.

In Vic, however, both parties must “ordinarily reside” in the State. This is interpreted by Births Deaths Marriages Victoria as follows:

To be eligible to register your relationship you must be ordinarily resident in Victoria. To establish this, we request that you provide evidence that both parties to the relationship have been living here for at least the last 12 months. However, each application is assessed on its merit.

Couples who are contemplating registering their relationship should therefore check the requirements of the State or Territory in which they are planning to register, to ensure they are eligible.

For those who are interested, here’s the technical background:

The definition of “de facto partner” in the Migration Act 1958 provides that the Migration Regulations may make provision in relation to the determination of whether one or more of the conditions going to the existence of the relationship are met.

Under Regulation 2.03A, in relation to certain types of visas, one of the factors for the determination of a de facto relationship is that the relationship must have existed for at least twelve months.

Regulation 2.03A(5) provides that the minimum relationship period does not apply if the de facto relationship is registered under a State/Territory law prescribed in the Acts Interpretation Act (Registered Relationship) Regulations as a kind of relationship as prescribed in those regulations.

The following laws and relationships are prescribed (and so meet the requirements of regulation 2.03A(5)):

(a) Relationships Act 2008 (Vic) — a registered domestic relationship as defined in section 3 of that Act;

(b) Relationships Act 2003 (Tas) — a significant relationship as defined in section 4 of that Act;

(c) Civil Partnerships Act 2008 (ACT) — a relationship as a couple between 2 adults who meet the eligibility criteria mentioned in section 6 of that Act for entry into a civil partnership;

(d) Relationships Register Act 2010 (NSW) — a registered relationship as defined in section 4 of that Act;

(e) Relationships Act 2011 (Qld)—a relationship as a couple between 2 adults who meet the eligibility criteria mentioned in section 5 of that Act for entry into a registered relationship.

The GM Family division of Go Matilda Visas has many years of experience looking after partner visa applications for applicants within Australia and overseas.

Our fees are competitive, are fixed in amount before you make any commitment to us, and can be paid in 6 x interest free monthly instalments to help you manage your cash flow.

If you are considering a partner visa application, are not married, are considering registering your relationship to overcome the 12 months living together requirement, and would like an initial discussion and a no obligation fixed fee proposal please contact the office that is nearest to you, or complete the enquiry form on this page.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Partner Visa Applications and Bridging Visas – Working in Australia

One of the questions we are asked frequently concerns the issuing of a Bridging Visa when a partner visa application is lodged onshore – ie when the visa applicant is in Australia.

As a general rule a Bridging Visa – or a BV – is granted when a visa application is lodged while the applicant is physically in Australia.

In other words, if you lodge a partner visa while you are in Australia – you might have become eligible for a partner visa while working on an employer sponsored subclass 457 visa, for example – a Bridging Visa will be granted upon the submission of the partner visa application, and will usually allow you to remain in Australia for the duration of the processing of your partner visa application, following the expiry of your present visa.

There are different types of Bridging Visa, and the type of BV you are granted will depend on what sort of visa you hold when you apply for the partner visa.

If you apply for the partner visa whilst holding what is called a substantive visa you will be granted a Bridging Visa A, or BVA.

Note: A substantive visa is any visa which is not a Bridging Visa, a Criminal Justice visa, or an Enforcement visa.

Importantly, a BVA that is granted to an applicant for a partner visa has no restrictions as to working – in other words you will have full work rights in Australia when the BVA comes into effect.

Note that a BV does not come into effect until the expiry of the visa held when the partner visa application was lodged with the Department of Immigration.

If you hold a subclass 457 visa when lodging a partner visa application, and the 457 visa is cancelled – for example, if you depart the sponsoring employer before the expiry of the 457 visa – and do not find another employer to take over the 457 visa the BVA will be cancelled at the same time.

In such circumstances you will need to seek the issuing of a Bridging Visa E, or BVE, to remain lawfully in Australia.

The BVE does not have full work rights attaching, and an application must then be made to the Department of Immigration for work rights to be granted. This is not automatic, and a case will need to be made for work rights to be made available.

Caution must therefore be exercised if you are the holder of a subclass 457 visa who is applying for a partner visa, you cease a 457 visa sponsored employment, and want to continue working while awaiting a decision on the partner visa application – with partner visa applications taking more than 12 months to be processed to a decision financial difficulties can arise if you depart a sponsored employment without another sponsored employment being available.

The GM Family division of Go Matilda Visas has many years of experience looking after partner visa applications for applicants within Australia and overseas.

Our fees are competitive, are fixed in amount before you make any commitment to us, and can be paid in 6 x interest free monthly instalments to help you manage your cash flow.

If you are considering a partner visa application and would like an initial discussion and a no obligation fixed fee proposal please contact the office that is nearest to you, or complete the enquiry form on this page.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Marrying in Australia – Locking in your Australian Partner Visa strategy

Individuals who are not married are generally required to have been living together for at least 12 months if they are to be considered to be in a de facto relationship (6 months when a partner is being included on a subclass 457 employer sponsored visa application).

More specifically, for migration purposes a person is in a de facto relationship with another person if they:

> Are not married to each other
> Have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others
> Are in a genuine and continuing relationship
> Live together or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis
> Are not related by family.

Department of Immigration guidance expands the living together requirement:

“Living together is regarded as a common element in most on-going relationships. It is recognised that, for various reasons, couples may sometimes have to live apart. Provided the separation is temporary and the couple had, at some point since commencement of the relationship lived together, their relationship might still satisfy the requirements of a de facto relationship.

For this reason, the one year relationship criterion does not require the couple to have physically lived together for the entire 12 months, but rather to have been in a de facto relationship for that period.

Partners who are currently not living together may be required to provide additional evidence that they are not living separately and apart on a permanent basis in order to satisfy the requirements of a de facto relationship.”

There are exemptions from the 12 month relationship requirement, namely where:

> There are compelling and compassionate circumstances for the grant of the visa, for example, there is a child of the relationship
> The relationship is registered under a law of a state or territory prescribed in the Acts Interpretation (Registered Relationships) Regulations 2008 as a kind of relationship prescribed in those regulations
> Their partner is, or was the holder of a permanent humanitarian visa and, before the humanitarian visa was granted, was in a de facto relationship with the applicant that was declared to the department at the time
> Their partner is an applicant for a permanent humanitarian visa.

Where a relationship has not existed for 12 months and the above exemptions are not available an applicant and his/her partner might consider marrying, as a person who is married to an Australian citizen or permanent resident is immediately able to apply for a partner visa.

In saying this, we hasten to add that we are not suggesting marrying purely for the sake of convenience, or to secure a visa outcome!

In Australia weddings can be carried out by a person called a marriage celebrant – for a wedding in Melbourne or Adelaide we are pleased to invite you to consider Christopher Steele of Simple Weddings.

A marriage celebrant can also provide a Notice of Intention to Marry, which is a required document when lodging a Prospective Marriage visa application.

GM Family is ideally placed to assist with partner visa applications. Our fees are competitive, and can be paid in 6 x interest free monthly instalments to help you manage your cash flow.

If you are considering a partner visa application, and would like an initial discussion and a no obligation fixed fee proposal contact our closest office to you, or complete the enquiry form on this page.