Let me set the scene.
So you’re at a Saturday BBQ with Jane and Bob, just chilling with some beers and snags and you start talking about how you want to bring your American girlfriend Sally over to Australia. Suddenly Jane and Bob remember that their cousin’s best friend’s co-worker was dating a foreigner and had successfully got them into the country. Naturally you ask for the contact details because let’s face it, you want as much information as you can. It’s even better if its information from a real life human being who’s been through the process before. Nevermind that you don’t know that person or have the faintest connection with them, you’re bound by one thing: getting your foreign partner to Australia!
And that, my friends, is basically the essence of online forums.
Jane and Bob are the conduit to their cousin’s best friend’s co-worker, just like online forums are the conduit to someone else on this Earth who has gone through the process.
Nowadays it’s very common to ask on forums and social media for real life advice. Just have a look at status updates on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. There are even groups on Facebook that are exclusively built around answering questions and providing advice.
But not all forums are created equal. How do you know if the information is good or not? Well folks, I don’t usually advocate getting advice from strangers online, particularly if you already have legal representation, but a little assurances and hearing other people’s stories can be comforting. And sometimes, migration agents hang out on these forums hoping to get business. They’re generally quite agreeable until they ask for your money before chatting more.
Forums are a great place to get country-specific information and some can go as niche and specific as cities and communes. I’ve seen people in the same city meet up before for a coffee and to just ‘pick’ each other’s brains. See, strangers on the internet can be nice, friendly and helpful. But the usual warnings should be said because nobody wants a repeat of the Craigslist serial killer.
I’m going to list and provide some reviews on forums where you can safely ask for information and receive genuine answers as well as connect with real people who have done it before you. Check them out for yourself.
Important warning about forums
Do not give away identifying information or personal information related to your application. These are public forums.
If you’re on the forums and if migration agents are on the forums, don’t you think that maybe case officers are scanning the forums too? Or put another way, would you publish your date of birth, mother’s maiden name and ATM pin online?
Never include passport numbers or application numbers. You can of course talk about your situation generally but do use caution because just like the North, the internet never forgets.
The name says it all, it’s a forum entirely dedicated to Australian visas.
The forum runs the full gamut of visas but unfortunately it does have ads as you’ll see that most threads are ‘Sponsored’ by someone.
Although it seems to be an active forum with many users online at any one time there doesn’t seem to be much engagement.
When you drill down in to the Partner Visa thread which is what we’re interested in right now, most topics have many viewers but not necessarily replies. And the ones that do have replies are from the Moderators who I can only assume have either gone through the process themselves and helping out or are migration agents masquerading as users. Oh yes, did I mention that there are active migration agents in this forum? I guess its pretty obvious with the ‘sponsored’ ads everywhere.
I think the usefulness of this forum lies in the ‘updates’ for processing time. We all know that partner visas are taking a hell of a long time to process – 12 -15 months at time of writing – so to see other people’s processing times will give you an idea on how long it will take and how early that you should be preparing your application.
The British Expats forum is a veritable treasure trove of information for, you guessed it, British Expats. As there are expats all over the world, the forum is a global one with a sub-thread dedicated to Australia.
Within the Australia thread there are other sub-threads related to life in Australia but the one we’re after is the one titled ‘Immigration, Visas & Citizenship (Australia)’.
The best feature about this board is the Wiki at the top that gives a good summary of the popular topics. A note of caution though, the information, although structured and answers most questions, is not necessarily up to date. Rely on it at your own peril.
Unfortunately, it’s not broken down into the different types of visas like other forums and it seems to have a focus on Skilled Visas more than any other type. In order to find the partner visa related ones you’ll have to do a search.
I would say that this forum is more active than the Australian Visa Forum but it is also more niche in that it’s for British people who are living abroad so most will have a UK perspective. That being said, the Australian visa application process is by and large the same for all countries so whilst it may not directly relate to your situation, you can find some interesting and helpful information here.
Whether you’ll get a reply to a non-British focused question is a different question.
The Australian section of the Expat Forums is supposed to be about living in Australia but it seems to be used for immigration advice more than anything.
When I was browsing this site a lot of the questions and answers seem to come from India and are focused around skilled visas and getting sponsored to work in Australia. This is just a sample of what I’ve seen so I may be wrong, you might be able to dig up more useful information.
Once again there’s no structured sub-threads so it’s a bit of a free-for-all of information. If you want partner visa specific information you’ll have to search for it using their search tool.
It’s quite an active forum with many users and members but it looks like not many stay around after they’ve gotten what they need. This is not necessarily bad but it also means you’re not really able to connect with people if they don’t stick around.
However, it is a very encouraging forum and everyone helps each other out. I’ve seem some letters and templates fly around too but once again, it’s more skilled visa focused.
The Australia forum has threads for all aspects of life in Australia, not just immigration. Under the immigration sub-forum there is only one other sub-forum and that’s for processing times. For different visa classes, you’ll have to use the search tool as well. There is however a sticky topic dedicated to partner visa wait times here which is very handy in answering your basic questions.
That being said this is a forum crawling with migration agents and it’s probably the most active forum for migration agents (or perhaps just one migration agent?). Any new post will get a reply from one or from a moderator who has gone through the process before and stuck around to help out. Only the update threads or waiting time threads seem to get the most attention and replies. The rest go unnoticed like the first forum Australian Visa Forum.
I do have to say that this is a strictly regulated thread and there seems to be a lot of beat downs meaning a moderator will come along and tell you to consult a migration agent and that they can’t answer your questions or that it’s not appropriate to ask those questions. I guess it is a migration agent run forum after all. Like wolves herding sheep they naturally want to steer you towards them.
Similar in sentiment as British Expats but more specific, Poms In Oz, are British people in Australia (either as an expat or even just visiting).
This one has heavy sponsorship as shown on the side bar to the left listing ‘Partner Forums’. Don’t be fooled, this doesn’t mean partner visa forums, it’s for the sponsors of the forum to talk about their services and how they can help you.
The sub-forum we want is ‘Migration Issues’. There are more skilled visas and sponsorship visa requests than partner visas but I guess that’s because there are more options open to British people given Australian history with them.
Partner visa related threads are restricted to processing times so not a lot can be discerned from this forum. It’s also British focused.
Migration agents on forums
A word of warning is that migration agents do love to go on forums to connect with their audience and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, you should be aware that, like everyone else there, they’re not held accountable to what they say.
Basically, take their advice with a grain of salt. They are just like everyone else on that forum in that they don’t know your situation and can’t know it unless you consult them (and pay them) so the advice they provide would be general. Don’t think that because a migration agent replied to your topic that you have now somehow received immigration advice. It doesn’t work like that.
And on a similar note, as it’s a public forum you’re under no obligation to sign on with them even if they reply to your topic. Do not hand over money to a migration agent in a forum. Always interview them first and do your own research into them before deciding.
A lot of the immigration forums out there are more to do with skilled visas or sponsorship and none that are quite so dedicated to the challenges of a partner visa.
Migration agents have infiltrated many and whilst they seem helpful at first, their advice always ends up being ‘ask a migration agent’ and if you’re lucky they’re not going to say ‘ask a migration agent like me’ but we all know that’s what they’re hoping for.
There are many more forums out there that I haven’t covered and you should explore them too, particularly forums that are in your own languages. I only did a search in English so naturally English forums turned up but we all know there is a wealth of information out there in many different languages.
And finally, just to throw our community into the ring as well, we have a Facebook group for readers of the Partner Visa Guide. This Facebook group deals exclusively with partner visas and it’s a place where you can connect with others going through the process. There’s no need to search for partner-specific posts because everything in the group relates to partner visas.
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