Australian partner visa answers

Thursday Answers are a response to questions submitted by readers on our regular Ask Mondays posts.

Every Monday I ask people to send in their questions and concerns and I select one to answer. In doing this, I hope you will see that a) you’re not alone in this, b) there are no stupid questions and c) we’re all here to help!

This edition of Thursday Answers will be a mixed bag. I receive a lot of questions and can only choose a few to answer each time and since there hasn’t been an edition of Thursday Answers for a while I decided to tackle 3 questions this time.

Criminal record

Q. I’m looking to apply for a partner visa to be with my girlfriend. Last year I was involved in a car accident and I was found to be at fault. I had drunk some alcohol celebrating with some friends. I was then charged and sentenced for drinking driving. Does this affect my visa chances?

First of all, have you checked out my earlier post on criminal records and Australian partner visa applications? It’s here if you’d like a refresher.

Secondly, I’d like to draw your attention to another post I wrote about the sponsor’s police check which can inform you on what the Department is looking for when they request police checks.

Furthermore, Form 80 and the declaration at the end of it provides insights into what the Department considers serious offences that may hinder your partner visa application.

In all visa applications, the applicant must show that they’re of good moral character in order to be let into Australia. We’re talking about permanent residency here so the Department would like to be absolutely sure that they’re letting in the right law abiding people. This is called the ‘Character requirement’. The Department states that:

You will not pass the character test if:

  • you have a substantial criminal record
  • you have been convicted of escaping from immigration detention, or convicted for an offence that you committed:
    • while you were in immigration detention
    • during an escape from immigration detention
    • after an escape, but before you were taken into immigration detention again.
  • you are or have been a member of a group or organisation, or had or have an association with a person, group or organisation that the Minister for Immigration reasonably suspects of involvement in criminal conduct
  • the Minister for Immigration reasonably suspects that you have been involved in people smuggling, people trafficking, genocide, a war crime, a crime against humanity, a crime involving torture or slavery, or a crime that is of serious international concern, whether or not you have been convicted of such an offence
  • your past and present criminal or general conduct shows that you are not of good character
  • there is a risk that while you are in Australia you would:
    • engage in criminal conduct
    • harass, molest, intimidate or stalk another person
    • vilify a segment of the Australian community
    • incite discord in the Australian community or in a part of it
    • be a danger to the Australian community or a part of it.
  • you have been convicted of, had a charge proven for or have been found guilty by a court of one or more sexually based offences involving a child
  • you are subject to an adverse security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
  • you are subject to an Interpol notice, from which it is reasonable to infer that you a direct or indirect risk to the Australian community, or a segment of the Australian community.

Also in my experience, I’ve had clients with criminal records get their visas approved because the ultimate answer is: it depends.

But naturally, the number one rule is if you have any doubts or questions you should always consult a legal professional before proceeding. A legal professional will be able to assess the impact and advise you on the best strategy ahead.

Same-sex couples and Australian Partner Visas

Q. We’re a same-sex couple, are we eligible to apply and will your book help US specifically?

This one’s an interesting one given that Australia legalised gay marriage late last year. But even prior to this the partner visa has been available to same-sex couples. Same-sex couples would have had to apply as ‘defactos’ and as we all know there’s a bit more of a burden of proof when it comes to showing a defacto relationship. It’s as if a marriage certificate is the one and only proof of a long lasting committed relationship and nothing more needs to be said.
So before gay marriage, same-sex couples could still apply for a partner visa.

After gay marriage was legalised, same-sex couples can also apply for a partner visa.

The distinction is really between ‘defacto’ relationships and ‘married’ relationships.

Regardless of how you label your relationship, in an application for a partner visa, you will need to prove that you have an ongoing, exclusive and committed relationship. And that is how I wrote the book. It’s based on this premise that I wrote the book, detailing the process and the types of evidence that will be acceptable and useful to proving a relationship.

Therefore, the answer to this question is yes, same-sex couples are eligible for Australian partner visas either as defactos or as married people, and yes the book will be helpful to you too.

But as always, if your situation is complex then it’s highly recommend that you seek the advice of a relevant professional before you proceed.

Age requirement

Q. My boyfriend is 30 years old but will be turning 31 very soon. Is it still OK if he applies for the visa when he’s 30 years old? Would it be fine for processing?

This one baffled me because there’s no upper age limit to a partner visa application. The only age requirement for a partner visa is that the marriage is valid under Australian law. If you are 16 or 17 then you must have parental permission.

So I repeat, there is no upper age limit to partner visas. You could be 65 years old as an applicant and still be eligible for a partner visa. However if there is a significant age gap between the applicant and sponsor, there may be additional scrutiny of your relationship. I discuss a significant age gap here in this post.

Having strong evidence of your relationship is key to convincing a case officer that your relationship is genuine and can get you over the perceived hurdles of age difference. I go through this in the book as well.

Proving Finances for an Australian Partner Visa

Q. Since my partner and I live in separate countries we don’t share any financial responsibilities. Is this an issue? We started dating in high school when I lived overseas and then I moved back home to Australia.

And a closely related cousin of the first question:

Q. Me and my partner we live with his parents and we’ve been living with his mother for about 2.5 years. We pay for bills to her and everything is under her name. How can I prove our financial part to our visa?

Another very common question that pops up time and time again. The reality is that when one partner is foreign, they may rely on their sponsors for support because when foreign partners move to be with their sponsors, the usual support networks are gone. This may mean that the sponsor is financially supporting the foreign partner but that doesn’t mean the foreign partner cannot contribute to the relationship in other ways.

I tackle this exact issue of finances in an earlier post here.

I also go through it extensively in a chapter of the book on how you can prove that you both contribute financially, despite not having joint accounts or that all the paperwork is in one partner’s name.

In regards to these specific questions, I say, don’t fret! There’s always a way to document these things and I suggest you start by reading the post I wrote on it.

That concludes this week’s Thursday Answers.

Until next time,

Fiona

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