Marriage certificates and proof of relationship

are marriage certificates enough to prove a relationship

Here’s an interesting one and something that I make clear in the book but I realise I haven’t addressed to the public.

This question came to me by chance. Or rather, a very deliberate spam campaign. Someone was clearly mass emailing migration agents to see which one would help them out for free. While I would never give immigration advice over email like that I was inspired to write this article on the subject of marriage certificates as the only proof of relationship.

The wayward reader had submitted a partner visa application without an agent (good on them, and yes, entirely do-able) but has been met with a response for more information by the case officer.  The case officer cited that they wanted more ‘Evidence of your relationship with your spouse’.

Although this couple had been together for a very long time they had only recently married. So while the relationship was as long and enduring as many marriages, they only tied the knot about a year before they applied for the partner visa.

The unsolicited story continued.

The applicant simply uploaded the marriage certificate as their evidence of a relationship with the sponsor.

That was it.

One document to prove their relationship.

And here I am making sure that all my clients had ample proof and really stressing the 4 aspects of the relationship in the book and this applicant thought that one certificate would be enough. I’m shaking my head as I write this.

But it’s pretty common. Scarily common. Enough to make me write this post to address it.

So what’s the issue here if there’s a marriage certificate? Surely that should be enough. They got married, legally sanctioned before the State. Both parties entered into a binding agreement to love each other till death do they part. What’s the issue?

The obvious one being that there is no way for the case officer to know that you’ve been in a relationship for 10 plus years if all you have provided is a marriage certificate dated one year ago. Of course that looks like you’ve only been in a relationship for a year. Of course the case officer is going to ask for more information (if not deny the entire application for not being able to satisfy the visa requirements).

Marriage certificates are but one type of proof of your relationship with your defacto partner or spouse. It is not however the be all and end all. It’s not a magic bullet, pill or miracle cure that says if you have a marriage certificate, you’ll have satisfied every single criteria of the partner visa.

As I’ve talked about many times, a case officer must consider the 4 aspects of a relationship in order to determine if it’s a relationship that falls under the definition of the partner visa. If you’re just uploading a marriage certificate it only proves that you are legally married to your sponsor – nothing else.

You still need to prove the financial aspects, the social aspects, the nature of the commitment and the nature of the household. You need a lot of prove your relationship with you sponsor. That’s why this visa is so hard, complex and time-consuming.

Uploading a marriage certificate does not answer the broad and open-ended question of whether you two are in a genuine and committed relationship to the exclusion of all others. Nor does it prove that you’re living together and not separately on a permanent basis.

You absolutely need more evidence than just your marriage certificate.

In the book I go through extensively what you need to provide as a minimum to satisfy the 4 aspects of the relationship. I even have a checklist for you that can help you organise your evidence to make sure you have enough of each.

When I read experiences like that I think if only someone told them about how complex the decision making process is when it comes to determining visas. And then I think, oh wait I do that! And that’s how posts on this blog are born.

Everyone seems to doubt the amount of evidence to provide. They don’t want to provide too much, they don’t want to provide too little, they think there’s a sweet spot of evidence to provide – just like Goldilocks. But there’s not. My rule of thumb is always to over-deliver than under-deliver.

Here’s how you should tackle this issue:

  1. Provide the required documents – the passports, the birth certificates etc
  2. Provide the minimum amount documents on the checklist (included with book)
  3. Then add some more to bulk up each point that you’re trying to prove.

And whenever you’re in doubt again, think about it this way:

It’s a $7,000 visa that takes almost 2 years to process. At the end of it you may or may not become a permanent resident of Australia and on the fast track to becoming a citizen of Australia.

Do you really think that one certificate will be enough to base your entire partner visa application on?