Now I’ve talked a little about how P and I met and why we decided to take the plunge and apply for a Partner visa, I thought it might be useful for all the prospective applicants out there if I told you about what we actually included in our application. We made the decision to do this in January 2012, roughly six weeks after we moved in together. However, we were only able to submit our application nearly a year after this, as in order to be eligible for the visa, we needed to have been in afor the entire 12 months immediately prior to lodging our application. Periods of dating don’t count towards this “one-year relationship requirement” so it didn’t matter that we had been together over a year before moving in together.
Before doing this I’d never really heard of the term “de facto relationship”. So what does that actually mean? According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC):
De facto relationship: Both parties have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others, their relationship is genuine and continuing. They live together, or do not live separately or apart on a permanent basis.
Keep this definition in mind when you are putting your application together. This is what your application form and all the supporting evidence you include is trying to demonstrate.
This visa has two stages – a temporary visa (subclass 309) and a permanent (subclass 100). You apply for both of them at the same time in the one application. The temporary visa is usually granted first and remains valid until a decision is made on your permanent visa. This is usually two years after you initially applied for your visa. This means the wait for your temporary visa to hopefully be granted counts towards the two year permanent visa decision process! 😀 After this waiting period, if you still meet all the necessary requirements for your visa, the permanent visa may be granted.
The main and most time-consuming part of the application, I felt, was gathering together the supporting evidence for it. The purpose of this is to demonstrate to DIAC that your relationship is genuine and continuing. This evidence needs to detail the history of your relationship along with four further categories: financial aspects, the nature of the household, social context of the relationship and the nature of your commitment to each other.
So what did we include?
- Form 47SP: Application for migration to Australia by a partner
- Certified copies of my birth certificate and my current and previous passports.
- A statement detailing the history of our relationship written by me.
- Form 40SP: Sponsorship for a partner to migrate to Australia.
- Certified copies of P’s British and Australian passports.
- Certified copy of P’s birth certificate.
- A certified copy of P’s certificate of citizenship.
- A statement detailing the history of our relationship written by P.
- The payment mandate form with our debit card details so payment for the application could be taken.
- 4 current passport photos of me 2 passport photos of P.
- 3 statutory declarations from Australian citizens. Each of these declarations were certified and each person included proof of their citizenship by also providing a copy of their passport. We had a statement from P’s Dad, P’s Mum and one of P’s friends who came to stay with us for a weekend here in the UK whilst she was studying here for a semester.
- Deed of name change for P’s Mum as we realised the name on P’s certificate of citizenship (a joint one with his Mum) was different to the name on her current passport and statutory declaration.
Evidence of our relationship
1. Financial aspects
- Contents insurance policy for our flat (original and renewed version after we renewed the lease on the flat).
- Bank statements for our joint bank account. We included statements for the whole 12 months of living together. I highlighted entries in four different colours all the way through to show: 1. Money paid into the account by both of us 2. Rent + bill payments 3. “Household purchases” – eg. furniture, kitchen equipment, gardening items, food 4. Social spending – eg. meals out, trips to the cinema, day trips etc. (This was sooo time consuming but worth it I think as it showed/proved a lot.)
- Tenancy deposit certificates x2 (the original term and the renewal).
- Financial budgets – four excel spreadsheets showing our household budget for Jan, April, July, Oct 2012.
2. The nature of the household
- Joint statement outlining the basis on which responsibility for housework is distributed and outlining our living arrangements.
- Tenancy agreement x 2 (original term and the renewal).
- Copies of bills for joint utility accounts – water, council tax.
- Our bank statements for our joint account included for the financial aspects sections also helped us here proving joint responsibility for both bills and day-to-day living expenses.
- Copies of correspondence addressed to us individually showing we both live at the same address – electricity bill, Sky broadband bill, TV licence, Love Film correspondence, polling card for each of us, 3 x pay slips for P.
3. Social context of the relationship
i) Evidence we are accepted socially as a couple
- Wedding invitations x 3 – two we had already been to and anther due to take place in May 2013
- Friends in common on Facebook – a printout of a screenshot from each of our profiles showing mutual friends.
- Screenshots of both our Facebook profiles clearly showing our “relationship status”.
- 17 Photos showing us with friends and out together – my advice is don’t go overboard here, I’ve heard they don’t like too many photos. I guess maybe they can be too easily set up and don’t really prove much. For the few we included I wanted to show passage of time and have photos of us mainly with family and mutual friends eg. I’ve dyed my hair a few times in the time we’ve been together so I made sure I had pictures showing my different hair colour(s), pictures on obvious occasions such as Christmas and birthdays, pictures with us together with my family and pictures showing us with the same friends at different places.
ii) Evidence of joint participation in sporting, cultural or social activities
- Photocopies of both our annual membership cards for Blenheim Palace.
- Photocopies of tickets from concerts, the theatre, day trips (eg. Hampton Court, the Churchill War Rooms), photocopies of receipts from meals out.
iii) Evidence of joint travel
- Train tickets to: Edinburgh, Bath, Cardiff, London.
- B+B and hotel confirmations.
- Printouts of messages from Facebook between me and P’s Mum and between P and his sister where he told her about our relationship.
- Emails x 2 confirming our enrolment in the beginners Japanese class where we met.
- Copies of cards between us – Valentine’s Day, birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries.
- Gifts to each other – printouts of confirmations for a personalised bear and photo album bought online, copy of receipt for a gift bought for me by P from Paris, copy of the envelope from Australia that the ring P gave me for our 2nd anniversary arrived in.
- Copies of correspondence from both our families to us both/individually – cards, postcards, thank you notes and letters.
4. The nature of your commitment to each other
This section we struggled the most with. Here they tend to want you to demonstrate the intention that your relationship will be long-term (the extent to which you have combined your affairs), evidence that you stayed in contact during any periods of separation and knowledge of each other’s personal circumstances. As P and I are quite young to be doing this I suppose, we didn’t have things like joint pension plans or wills to include. Instead, we wrote a joint statement saying why we had decided to do this and what this meant to us and our relationship. We also wrote a little about our future plans – eg. setting up home together in Australia and possibly getting married and having children together at some point in the future.
Soo…that’s everything! As you can see, the application was pretty lengthy. With everything together it was over 200 pages though I do think that is a fair bit shorter than some other applications I have read about. I have read some posts where people have submitted over 300 pages of information! So do I have any tips for prospective applicants out there?
- Before applying, read all the information given on the DIAC website thoroughly as well as Partner Migration booklet 1. This booklet was invaluable when doing our application.
- Read all the information given on the website for your local Australian mission or embassy. This will help you with each embassy’s specific requirements. They are all different and like applications to be presented in different ways. The process for paying your fee and requesting your medical may also be different.
- Keep abreast of updates and news relating to processing times/fees/visa requirements. We found out the fee for our visa was due to go up by £400 on January 1st 2013 – needless to say we frantically got our application in on 18th December 2012 to avoid this!
- You don’t have to hand your application in by hand if applying from the UK. If you do want to, check opening times and timings for handing in applications in person at your embassy very carefully. We made the trip to London only to discover they only accepted applications by hand between 9am – 11am. We got there at 3pm. We had to go to the post office across the road and post it regardless. It cost over £10 to send this special delivery (most secure). It would have cost the same to post it wherever we posted it in the country. Embarrassing!
- When completing your application read “applicant” as “me” and “sponsor” as “my lovely Aussie partner/spouse”. 🙂
- Follow the application checklists provided!
- Certified copies are:
‘Certified copies’ are copies authorised, or stamped as being true copies of originals, by a person or agency recognised by the law of the country in which you currently reside. All Australian missions have the facility to certify or witness documents and statutory declarations if necessary (this service may attract a charge).
- If you can, start collecting your supporting evidence well in advance of actually submitting your application. If we’d thought about it, P and I could have started collecting things together as soon as we moved in together rather than waiting until the end of that 12 months. We put the whole thing together in three weeks (mainly to avoid the Jan 1st 2013 price increase!). It would have been a lot nicer if we had put things together slowly – I guess we needed the year of living together to decide if Oz was really the next step :-).
- Forums are your friend – haunting various forums really helped me with our application.
- Remember each application will be different depending on your personal circumstances. Choose supporting evidence you think represents your situation and relationship the best. What worked for one couple may not be an option or the best choice for you. Use other applicants as examples but remember your relationship and therefore your application is unique!